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Gloria (Fox) Wilkinson

Gloria Ann Wilkinson

Gloria Ann Fox was born June 2, 1928 at the Holy Cross Hospital in Calgary, Alberta. She was the eldest of the five children of George Cecil Fox and Ethel Margarite Fox. Gloria’s early years were spent growing up in the town of Hanna, Alberta. It was there she attended school, helped with her younger siblings and babysat neighboring children. Her father ran a John Deere Implement Dealership in Delia, Alberta and worked on local farms during hard times. She loved visiting family and friend’s ranches and riding horses across the prairie. She was also an excellent shot with a rifle and loved to recount the time she shot two pheasants with a single shot. Gloria would also visit her grandparents, Roland and Bessie Mitton, on their farm in Jarvie, Alberta. While there she would help with the farm chores, like gathering the eggs or picking berries. Gloria was always very family-oriented and very close with her loved ones. Gloria’s brother George was born in 1930 and her sister Myrna was born in 1934. Myrna passed away at age 3 in 1937 and another brother, Eugene, was born that same year. In 1941, Gloria’s brother Richard was born.

When Gloria was 17, her family moved to Strathmore, Alberta, where she worked as a telephone switchboard operator. Her family lived right next door to the building and could watch her through the window as she worked. When she was 18 she moved to Airdrie, Alberta and worked as a waitress in a restaurant. Gloria would often catch a ride home on her friend’s motorcycle to visit her family in Strathmore.  On one these trips home, she met Jack Wilkinson. Jack had arrived back to his home town of Strathmore after serving overseas in WW2.  The pair started dating and married in Drumheller, Alberta on August 31, 1950. During this time Gloria worked as a chambermaid for some friends who owned a small motel. Later on, Gloria’s friends acquired the Highlander Hotel and Gloria worked as a chambermaid there. Gloria and Jack’s first home was an upstairs apartment suite across the road from the Stampede Grounds in Calgary, Alberta. Jack was a welder and worked in Calgary. In 1951, they had a daughter, Susan.  When Susan was one, they moved and rented a home on Scotchman Hill over looking the Stampede Grounds.  They lived there for four years and then purchased their first new home on the North Hill in Calgary. 

Gloria loved doing crafts and was talented at any craft she chose to do. She was hired by a hobby craft company; this job gave her the opportunity to be on a local Calgary TV network several times, demonstrating hobby crafts. After her television appearances, she began to travel across Canada and demonstrate hobby crafts in department stores. She particularly liked making ribbon flowers, and young women would purchase them to wear as corsages at their graduations.

Gloria’s family was very close, and eventually settled close to each other. Gloria’s parents moved to Leduc, Alberta in the 1950s to follow the Alberta oil boom.  Gloria and Susan would take the train from Calgary to Leduc to visit them once or twice a month. Gloria’s oldest brother Delbert also worked in the oil patch until the 1960s, when he bought a farm just south of Gloria to stay close to his family. Her brother Eugene went to university in Edmonton and was a Psychology Professor for many years. After a property became available in the area in the 1970s, Eugene also moved to close by, on a farm west of Millet, with his wife and two daughters. His farm was known as The Fox Lily Farm. Gloria's youngest brother, Arliss, moved to Vancouver. Despite the distance, Gloria and Arliss stayed in contact throughout the years.

In 1962, Gloria and Jack purchased their farm west of Millet through Veteran’s Affairs.  One of Gloria’s first experiences with farming was the acquisition of 10 milk cows.  She was terrified of milking them at first and it took a while to summon the courage. Susan had to milk the cows at the beginning. Gloria also raised chickens and made her own granary to raise her chicks in.  When she went to pick up a hundred chicks, they looked so small that she doubled her order. The granary quickly became too small to fit all the rapidly growing chicks, and she frantically loaded the poultry from the overcrowded granary into a wheelbarrow, making several trips to move them to another barn. Gloria sold eggs from her hens, separated milk, and sold the cream.  She loved to make cottage cheese and churn butter. Gloria also raised ducks and geese, but they became a messy nuisance when they loitered around the sidewalks and back step. In the 1980s, Jack and Gloria took great pride in raising and showing off their pure breed Herefords.

In her spare time, Gloria loved oil painting, and created many beautiful paintings in her life. Gloria took many painting classes. Gloria also found enjoyment in crocheting, knitting, gardening, canning, and pickling.  She loved entering the Millet Agricultural Society bench shows in the fall with her wares. Gloria enjoyed going to Bingo in Wetaskiwin or Leduc and was fairly lucky.  She liked buying lottery tickets and won a car in a Western Lottery.  One of Gloria’s greatest pleasures was writing letters to friends and family. One of her favorite pen pals was her husband Jack’s sister Rosie, who lived near Cremona, Alberta. Gloria also was an avid photo buff and always had her camera with her. She oved all kinds of music, from Symphony to Willie Nelson.

Throughout her life, genealogy and history always fascinated her. In 1986, Gloria happened to be taking in an exhibit at the museum, where Jo Moonen was on volunteer duty. Jo talked to Gloria about the Millet & District Historical Society and convinced Gloria to join From 1989 to 1991, Gloria was the president of the Millet & District Historical Society, and from 1990 to 1992 she was the co-curator of the Millet Museum. She became the curator manager for Millet Museum shortly afterwards and held the position for a few years. During her presidency, Gloria put in approximately 32 hours each week.  She worked with other volunteers at the museum, designing and setting up exhibits. Gloria also spent a lot of time managing the archives. Her creativity and artistic eye added a lot to the Millet Museum exhibits. Her family was very proud of her achievements.

Unfortunately, Gloria’s contributions lessened when her health began to decline. However, her volunteering did not stop at the Millet Museum and Historical Society. Gloria was a member of the Rebekahs and enjoyed making meals with the members for the Lion’s Club meetings. In 1992 she was awarded a Volunteer Culture award for her efforts.

Two of Gloria’s greatest joys were her grandsons, Tyler & Cody Pahl.  Gloria was a great influence in their lives because she lived just down the road from her daughter and son in law, Susan and Garry Pahl.  The boys spent a lot of time down at their grandparents', baking cookies, playing games and working in the garden. Gloria helped to raise her grandchildren, as Susan worked a lot. Gloria had fond memories of family vacations to Hawaii, Disneyland and Reno, along with many camping trips. Gloria’s youngest grandson Cody and his wife Chelsea purchased Gloria and Jack's farm in 2008. The original farm yard still exists, but Cody, his wife, and their two boys live in a new home on the farm.  

On March 5, 2006 Gloria passed away after a lengthy battle with COPD and lung cancer. At this point she had been on oxygen for several years.  Her husband Jack had passed away in 1999.