Joan Dorrington

Obituary of Joan Alayna Dorrington

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Dorrington, Joan Alayna– Glen Margaret, Nova Scotia It is with deepest sadness that we announce our mother’s passing on March 2, 2024, surrounded by family. Mom was born in London, Ontario, in 1942. She grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Monkton with her five siblings. Mom excelled in school, skipping two grades, and received many awards for public speaking. At the age of 17 she went to the Stratford Teachers’ College and then began teaching in Brantford, where she started on the professional path in education that she would follow until she was 55. While taking further teacher training at Queen’s University in Kingston in 1963, she met the love of her life, Peter, an officer cadet at the Royal Military College. They were married in Kingston in 1964. As Dad had been posted to Halifax as a navigation officer with the Royal Canadian Navy, the new couple moved to start a new life on the east coast, where Mom taught the first year in Cole Harbour. In 1966, they found their forever home in Glen Margaret on Saint Margaret’s Bay, where they raised their three children, Peter, Nick and Rachel. Always a teacher at heart, Mom ran a nursery school out of the house while we were young. In order to requalify to teach, Mom completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University in the 70s. In 1978, she began teaching again, working with special needs children at Saint Andrew’s School in Halifax. In 1978, Mom became an elementary teacher at the school of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, later known as Sacred Heart School of Halifax. Mom was soon appointed principal of the elementary school and then headmistress of the Sacred Heart School, a position she held until 1998. Always guided by a reflective Catholic faith, Mom was profoundly dedicated to the educational mission of the Sacred Heart School. In 1992, our Dad was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 52. Mom cared for him lovingly, even heroically, until he died in 1995. Mom suffered a serious brain aneurysm only two-and-a-half years later at the age of 54. Miraculously, she survived, but Mom’s world was forever changed. It was her inherent determination and strength of character, as well as the outstanding interventions and support of the Neurosurgery Department of the QEII Health Sciences Centre and the team at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre, that allowed her survive, and then relearn how to eat, walk and talk, thereby regaining a measure of independence. Incredibly, she was able to return to the family home in 1999 where she continued to live until 2023, thanks to the dedicated support of various wonderful caregivers over the years. Mom continued to play an important role in the lives of her grandchildren, while teaching all of us important lessons in life through her example. Mom was also involved in the community, where she was surrounded by wonderful neighbours and friends. In the late 60s, she was a founding member of the Glen Margaret Coffee Club, a group of women who got together every Wednesday to socialize. Though Mom took a temporary “leave of absence” from Coffee Club when she started teaching again, she rejoined the group following her aneurysm and was a regular until 2023. She was also an active member of Saint Margaret’s of Scotland Catholic Church in Glen Margaret, until its closing in 2007, and then became an equally active member of Saint Peter’s Anglican Church in Hackett’s Cove. Up until her aneurysm Mom was a also “cuddler” for premature babies at the Grace Maternity Hospital. Over the past year, Mom resided at Northwood Manor, where she was not only surrounded by new friends and wonderful staff, but also became the resident bingo champion. We are very grateful to Northwood, and particularly the doctors, nurses, staff and residents of 8 Manor and 5 Centre, who created a loving and supportive environment for Mom. In return, they were treated to Mom's jokey good humour and spunky personality. As one of Mom’s fellow residents at the Manor said, in a touching message that he wrote on March 2 on the eighth-floor notice board: Dear Joan, Your smile, your frown, Your amazing style, We’ll remember you, Joan For much more than awhile. Mom was a loving and inspiring daughter, sister, wife, mother and (great) grandmother. She is predeceased by her parents, John and Sally Hennekam, her brother Jeffrey, her husband Peter, and her grandson Ryan. She is survived by her brothers Jim, John and Jordy, her sister Jennifer, her sons Peter (Kerry) and Nick (Dawn), her daughter Rachel, her grandchildren Amy, Brittany, Tatiana, Harley, Benjamin and Charlotte, and great grandsons Nathan and Owen. Donations can be made to the Northwood Foundation, where they will be directed to specifically support the recreational therapy program that Mom so enjoyed. A celebratory service in honour of Mom will be held in August, at Saint Peter's Anglican Church, at a date to be determined.
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