It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mom, Elizabeth Saunders (nee Mitchell), better known as Betty -- and to those who loved her the most, Granny Bet. She died peacefully and gracefully, just as she lived her life.
Born in Toronto on July 9, 1932, she was the daughter of Ed and May Mitchell (nee Coburn) and younger sister of Gwen and Ernie. As a child she lived in Clarkson but returned to Toronto in her teens where she attended Vaughan Road Collegiate and later went to work for York Township Hydro. Somewhere along the way she met our dad, Bob Saunders (d. 2001) and together they worked to build one of the largest, single travel agencies in Canada. Mom did the agency’s accounting at home while hamburger stew and dumplings bubbled on the stove. Every night when he got home Dad would ask “How were the sales?” and they would discuss the business of the day. They worked together to make a good life for their kids.
Those kids were four – Linda (d. 1973), Connie, Rob and Kelli. Mummy loved us equally, unconditionally and each in a unique way. Her lessons were many…the value of work, of fun, of friends, not to be afraid to stick your hand in the turkey to prepare Christmas dinner, how to do Downward Facing Dogs and most of all, how to stay together and love one another. She made us promise to always celebrate her birthday as a family, even if she wasn’t there, giving us an easy reason to spend time together and stay connected.
Other family members who will miss her optimism and joie de vivre! include Paul Murphy, Lisa Saunders, and T.J. Rinomato. Grandkids Bryan and Dawn Murphy coupled with their spouses Ashleigh Murphy and Jeremy Currier, held a special place in her heart as did great granddaughter Bridgette. Bridgette’s baby sister, expected in August, won’t actually meet Granny Bet, but we know she’ll ride with this little one in spirit, constantly being awed by how babies develop and the new ways of parenting, especially by the dads. She loved witnessing this.
Granny Bet had other loves too. She was all about wine and goodies with family and friends, Scrabble (even in her last days she whipped Connie and Rob!), great movies, good books, history, chocolate, PC Rosemary Crackers, coffee (lots and lots of coffee and always with just the right amount of cream, never milk!) nice serviettes, and travel. “I only like to travel with you kids” she’d say when she got older. When dad was alive, partly because of his profession, they travelled the world – Australia, Japan, Ireland, England and more. With Kelli and Connie, almost every corner of the Canadian Maritimes was explored, with shorter trips throughout Ontario and Quebec. At 81, she spent a week in Barbados; even bobbed in the surf! She loved visits to Rob and Lisa’s cottage, and was always game for a day trip to Tobermory, Stratford and other destinations near her home in Port Elgin.
When Mom and Dad retired in 1996, they moved from Toronto to Port Elgin in Bruce County and never looked back. It’s such a great community where neighbours became true friends and staff in the retirement home epitomized the definition of good care. Granny Bet moved to Elgin Lodge Retirement Home in 2014 and stayed until just a few weeks ago. Many assisted in keeping her there as she didn’t want to leave. Long term care wasn’t “her thing.”
Life wasn’t always easy. When the worst tragedy imaginable hit our family (the sudden death of our sister Linda) she told us our family was special and did her best to help us through it. Severe scoliosis left Granny Bet’s back twisted, but her determination intact. To keep herself straight, she not only took Yoga, she taught Yoga, helping others to reap it’s many benefits. Leukemia and Parkinson’s in later years didn’t keep her down either. It gave her the opportunity to meet the wonderful nurses and doctors in the Port Elgin/Southampton area and at Owen Sound Hospital who she (and her family) thought the world of. She was as fascinated by the changes in her body as she was accepting of them. “You have to get out,” she’d say while slowly wheeling her walker to Bingo or Bid Euchre or The Puzzle at The Lodge, even just a few months ago. And while her shaking was debilitating at times, she’d say, “I’m just a person living with Parkinson’s.” Amazing.
The Saunders and Murphy family would like to thank the many, many friends and family who contributed to the life of this warm, loving woman who meant so much to us. Great appreciation also goes to the staff of Elgin Lodge, the Southampton Memorial Hospital and Owen Sound Hospital. The care she received was exemplary and caring.
Granny Bet, we will miss you. But you left us with so much.
Friends will be received on Monday, June 28, 2021 from 6:15pm at the T.A. Brown Funeral Home, 510 Mill Street, Port Elgin, 519-832-2222. Appointments for visitation must be booked in advance. Please call the funeral home to book a time to attend.
A private family funeral service will be held and live streamed on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 1:00pm. Family and friends wishing to view the service may do so on facebook @BrownFamilyFH or in the service details below. Interment Beechwood Cemetery, Toronto.
Memorial donations to the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation or the Owen Sound Hospital Foundation for the Oncology Department would be appreciated by the family.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Elizabeth Saunders, please visit our floral store.