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Obituary

MURIEL BETH GOURLEY (published on March 13, 2010)



MURIEL BETH GOURLEY The family of Beth Gourley report with sorrow that Beth died February 23, 2010 in Winnipeg after a long illness. Beth was born in Winnipeg December 24, 1915, the youngest of the five children of Laura Lyle and Robert John Gourley. Beth may have been the baby of the family but she quickly became a powerful force within it. Even as a child, her dominant traits of great wit, high intelligence and a strong will were obvious. Add in her physical attributes of flaming red hair and great height - she liked to describe herself as 5 foot, 13 inches - and Beth made a very imposing figure. Her family knew, however, that behind that seemingly imposing presence was a modest and generous woman who, with her older sister Grace, lavished love and interest on her nieces and nephews as if they were their own children. With them, every wedding was attended, birthday noticed, career success cheered. Beth had an excellent education at schools in Winnipeg and Quebec, and received her B.Sc. in chemistry at the University of Manitoba in 1937. Following further studies in Edinburgh, she returned to Canada to work as a technician in Dr. Wilder Penfield's department at the Montreal Neurological Institute during the war years and then moved to the Clinical Chemistry Laboratory in the Children's Hospital in Winnipeg. She completed her M.Sc. in 1956, was appointed laboratory head in 1965 and taught biochemistry at the university. Beth was very well respected in her profession, loved her work, and inspired many young biochemistry students. She retired in 1972 in order to spend more time on her other passions - family and travel. Beth developed her taste for travel at an early age with family trips to California and as a student in Scotland. Long before exotic travel was fashionable, she went to Japan and India on her own; took an around-the-world trip with a childhood friend and popped over to London for a week when she heard the airfare was $150. Later on, she and her sisters took numerous cruises to intriguing places all over the world. Beth was truly interested in the arts and people of different cultures and always kept in touch with friends in different countries. For many years, Beth would head off to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club where her far-flung family would assemble each February to celebrate family birthdays. In summer, she was found at the family island at Lake of the Woods and later at her own beloved cottage in Keewatin. Beth was a life long supporter of the arts, in particular the Winnipeg Symphony and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. She bowled at the Winnipeg Winter Club and golfed at the St. Charles Country Club. In the latter years, disease robbed her of her intellect and ultimately of speech, but the true Beth still shone through, and her family and friends will miss her very much. We would like to thank the Golden Links care facility, Beth's loyal caregivers, especially Venita who was with Beth in her final months, and devoted friends Shirley Lush and Vicki Todd. Beth was predeceased by her older siblings; Helen Lazier and her husband Morley, Grace Gourley, Byron Gourley and his wife Evie, and Arthur Gourley and his wife Margaret, and by her niece Ann Lazier Briggs and her husband Robert. Beth's family (David and Marilyn Gourley, John and Catherine Lazier, Mary Lazier and Mark Tichenor, Rob and Rachel Gourley and Catherine and Ron Pears and their children) will gather in Winnipeg in mid-June for a memorial service for their Aunt Beth. Beth also leaves 17 grandnieces and nephews and 23 great-grandnieces and nephews.


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