Sally Ann Gilchrest-Unrau

1951 - 2015

 

S UnrauOn Wednesday February 18, 2015 at her residence in Morden, MB, Sally passed away at the age of 64 years. 

It was 1951. Perry Como and Tony Bennett were topping the charts. Edward Gilchrest, owner of a small grocery store and Livia Valletta, a first generation Italian and homemaker were newly married with baby Sharon, only one year old when along came Sally Ann on February 16th. Sally, along with big sister Sharon, was eventually joined by Linda and finally a boy, Edward, born on his father’s birthday. Sally was raised in Stratford, Connecticut, a town of 50,000 along the CT shoreline, an hour’s drive from New York City. She had many friends throughout her life.  As many teens in Stratford, she spent a lot of time at the local beach and hung out at Danny’s for hotdogs and french fries. 1969 saw many things -- the first man to land on the moon, John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” and sex, drugs and rock and roll at a little outdoor concert called Woodstock.  1969 also saw Sally and the 450 other members of her class graduate from Bunnell High School (including her future brother in law Rich). Sally attended Southern Connecticut State University and graduated with a teaching degree.  She promptly moved to Colebrook, New Hampshire for a teaching position.  We thought Colebrook (a town on the Canadian border) was a cold place, but little did we know she would head to colder and colder climes. She soon met and married Bertrand Beaudry and moved to Quebec City for 2 years. Beautiful little Michelle was born in 1976. Quebec was a bit colder than Colebrook, which was a bit colder than Stratford, but Sally was not content and moved to Winnipeg where she lived for 5 years. Sally and Bert eventually went their separate ways. In 1990 Sally met the love of her life, Hank, whom she promptly (and smartly) married. Sally’s creative juices began to flow with and she found herself involved in many endeavors. Quilting became a passion. She was a member of Barnswallow Quilters for 17 years taking on many roles throughout those years. She loved to volunteer in a variety of organizations and events including the Corn and Applefest and Morden’s art gallery. Sally had a rich career in the field of early Childhood Education. She worked as a Provincial Childcare Coordinator licensing day care centers, nursery school programs and family day care homes. She retired in 2006. Breast cancer became a part of Sally’s life in 1999 returning multiple times. Despite these setbacks, Sally rarely complained and continued to lead a rich life. As we all experienced at one time or another – it was hard to complain about anything in our own life when Sally did so little complaining about hers. In 2009 Sally wrote and published the children’s book, Sam’s Weird Afternoon, as well as the story Location, Location, Location in the book, Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors. In Sally’s final year of life, she confronted her cancer in the way you might expect -- a direct no nonsense fashion. She never looked for sympathy and didn’t want to be treated any differently because of her illness. She continued to meet with the Barnswallows, attend and host pot lucks, and complete some of her most creative projects of her life.  In the wake of this final diagnosis, Michelle moved back home from Vancouver to be with her Mom. Michelle and Hank, the dream team, took full time care of Sally to the very end. They planned amazing events (group kite flying, tribute video, balloon extravaganza), cared for her every need, and THEY NEVER complained. They showered Sally with a big beautiful love that was inspirational and truly heroic. 

Sally was born in 1951, the year of the Metal Rabbit, a soft cuddly animal with a backbone of steel. It is said that with firm goals in mind the Metal Rabbit will use strength of character and determination to achieve all that they desire.  Sally was strong beyond strong and achieved a life for herself that can only be envied. And we all know that a rabbit’s foot is extremely lucky – and we are all extremely lucky to have been blessed with Sally in our lives. 

Memorial service was held at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday February 24, 2015 at the Access Event Centre in Morden with a private interment at Hillside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Sally’s memory to the Boundary Trails Health Centre Cancer Unit. 

Wiebe Funeral Chapel, Morden

In care of arrangements

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