AIRTH – PHYLLIS CHRISTINA

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    AIRTH – PHYLLIS CHRISTINA Phyllis Christina Airth was born on November 22, 1942, at Bassano, Alberta. Phyllis passed away in the Maple Creek hospital, after a battle with cancer on Tuesday, April 13th at 61 years of age. She is survived by her mother Elsie Airth, her daughters Jean Tinney and Debra Snover and son Jack Tinney, Debra’s husband Bruce Snover, their sons Matthew, Daniel and Paul, her brothers Jock and David Airth, Jock’s wife Linda, their son Shawn and daughter Shawna, David’s wife Kathleen and their son William. Phyllis was raised on the farm near Brooks and spent a lot of time with her grandmother, Christina Sunstrum. Phyllis attended grade one in Brooks, but went to grade two at One Tree School, riding her pony Biscuit 4 miles each way. At the end of the school year, the country schools were all closed and buses were put in place to transport all nearby kids to Brooks, where Phyllis completed the rest of her schooling. All throughout her life, Phyllis had a tremendous love of animals, especially horses, sheep and dogs. She took equestrian lessons at Stan and Lenore Wilson’s west of Calgary one summer and impressed the Wilsons by halter breaking a young colt, just to show that she could. Later on, she bought an Arabian stud from Wilsons to put with her mares, but unfortunately not one colt was produced. A local veterinarian commented years later that if that stud had worked better, she would have never gotten married. Her love of horses was matched by her affection for dogs. Her father Andrew always owned many hounds for hunting use and Phyllis could often be found in her favorite place under the step with the dogs. After high school Phyllis attended Garbutts Business College where she completed the 2 year program in 1 year, graduating in 1963. After graduation she worked at the Newell Veterinary Clinic in Brooks, Alberta until her marriage a couple of years later. Phyllis married Earl Tinney in 1965 and moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan. She had 3 children, Annie Jean in 1965, Jack Clifford in 1967 and Debra Faye in 1969. She stayed home with her children until they were all in school and then began working at the North Battleford swimming pool, where she stayed for 19 years. She earned her Life Guarding Certificates and taught swimming lessons as well as becoming the pool supervisor. She helped kids and grownups overcome their fear of the water. Towards the end of her pool career her lifeguard teams won Provincials a couple of times beating teams from the Universities in Saskatchewan. They also placed well at the Nationals and at the Expo 86. While at the pool Phyllis worked with individuals with spinal cord injuries, teaching them how to swim. She trained Clayton Gerein for the Wheelchair Olympics in the breast stroke and traveled throughout North America and Europe with him to compete. Clayton won many swim meets and also went on to become a world champion wheelchair marathoner. Clayton was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and cited Phyllis as the most influential person in his life. This comes as no surprise to those of us that knew Phyllis. For her tireless contributions to organizations for the Mentally Challenged, to the Red Cross, to the Royal Lifesaving Society and to many others she was bestowed the Saskatchewan Award of Merit for her exceptional contributions to Saskatchewan Society, in 1996. Phyllis was a loving and giving person who always gave more of herself than she really had time for. For years she participated in all her children’s activities, taking Jean to dance competitions Jack to judo and motocross competitions and Debbie to baton twirling events both near and far. Being good at sewing, she was always sewing costumes for the girls, and was always available for driving groups of kids. The kids were always bringing home stray kids for loving and home cooked meals and sometimes stray adults would show up for meals at all times of the day or night. Phyllis was always happy to help people in need and was always happy when a big meal got eaten. Every holiday and birthday was an event and an excuse for a big party. Every Valentine’s Day started with heart shaped pancakes and every Easter with Easter egg hunts. Halloween included a party complete with scary decorations and music, bobbing for apples and popcorn balls. Christmas never went by without a polka around the Christmas tree to Jim Reeves, and a big feast. For the kids’ birthdays each cake was tailored to the activities they were doing at the time. Each cake she made was a masterpiece and no two alike. Phyllis loved the outdoors and wanted her kids to love the outdoors. From the time her children were small she took them on camping trips every year. She enjoyed teaching them how to cook on open fires, paddle a canoe, and pitch a tent. Vacations for Phyllis always included the entire family and camping gear. Starting in the late 70’s, summers were spent at a cabin at Attons Lake where Phyllis taught swimming lessons and spent time picking Saskatoon berries with the kids. True to her giving nature Phyllis also worked at different times for the Young Offenders Correctional Centre and for Regional Care as a Special Care Aide. The family was never without a dog and when Debbie got old enough she wanted a Golden Retriever. This opened up a world of dog breeding and dog shows for Phyllis. Phyllis began teaching dog obedience classes in North Battleford and Maple Creek. The family then moved from North Battleford to the Prongua area where they bought a home quarter. Phyllis started the Galawater kennels there in 1987, named after a district near Edinborough, Scotland where her ancestors came from. This brought a new level of “busy “ to her already extremely busy life. All dogs were welcome at Galawater, from the pampered poodle to the working RCMP German Shepherd. At holiday times you could be greeted at the door by up to 50 dogs, and Phyllis felt if they were a “house dog” at their home they would be one at her house too. It’s no wonder that most dogs who were regulars at Galawater were much more excited at the beginning of each visit than they were when it was time to go back home. In 1991 an abused and abandoned Border Collie wandered into Galawater kennels and into Jean’s heart. Phyllis had of course taken the dog in and insisted on buying sheep to train the dog with. This was the beginning of a lasting relationship between Phyllis’ Border Collies and sheep. In 1995 Phyllis moved to the Maple Creek area and learned more about training sheep dogs from Dale Montgomery. Shortly thereafter she and Earl divorced and Phyllis bought a home in Piapot. She worked at the Maple Creek District Opportunities with Mentally Challenged individuals. She also drove school bus for the Piapot School. She was a project leader with the High Country 4H Multiple Club. She felt strongly that all children should have experiences with animals and made sure that any child who wanted to could participate in any of the events. She taught obedience, agility and stock dog training. She also organized and hosted stock dog clinics and a trial in 2003 at her house in Piapot. She was on the Board of Directors for the Sask. Stock Dog Association and a member of the Maple Creek Stock Dog Club. She offered boarding and custom training in Piapot as well. Her door was always open to anyone who needed help or advice with dog training dilemmas. Phyllis spent five summers working as a shepherd in the mountains of Northern B.C., controlling vegetation on cut blocks by using 2 or 3 of her dogs to move thousands of grazing sheep. This was in her late fifties, hiking up and down grizzly bear inhabited mountains, with the nearest town hours away. And Phyllis loved it – the outdoors, the mountains, her sheep, her dogs and for two summers working with her daughter Jean. Phyllis’ last year of summer herding was a prairie project near Regina. Recently, Phyllis started enjoying scrapbooking and became a Creative Memories consultant. She taught people how to beautifully preserve their lives with pictures. She was very happy volunteering at the Piapot School teaching children how to preserve their memories. She received many cards while in the hospital from kids thanking her for this, and telling her she was the best bus driver they’d ever had. This always brought a smile to her face. Phyllis also worked at Maple Creek Cowtown Livestock Exchange as an “alley rat.” Many co-workers have commented on how she could work harder than many of the younger guys, but always had time to greet you with a smile. She enjoyed working the Tompkins Sheep sale every year and last summer worked for the Dept. of highways on the last of the Trans-Canada Twinning project. One of Phyllis’ joys was spending time with her grandchildren, Matthew, Daniel and Paul. She loved going on many hikes with them and on one of her many trips to Texas Phyllis carried 3 year old Matthew on her shoulder to the top of “Enchanted Rock” about an 800 foot climb. This was no ordinary 58 year old lady. In recent days 6 month old Paul could always bring a smile to Phyllis’ face no matter how bad she felt. Phyllis always said it’s not the years in your life, but the amount of life you put into your years, and she did pack a lot of living into her years. She had a super human work ethic, and always put the needs of others ahead of her own. She was devoted to her community, her friends, and her family and she will be missed by all who knew her. Her life is an inspiration to us all. The funeral service was held from the Piapot Legion Hall, Piapot, Saskatchewan Saturday, April 17 with Pastor Bob Dove officiating. Interment followed in the Piapot Cemetery. Pallbearers were – Gerald Sanderson, Ray McDougald, Lorne Smith, Dale Montgomery, Terry Knodel, Mike Gillas. Those who so wish may remember Phyllis with a gift to the Piapot School or to Maple Creek and District Opportunities Inc. Binkley’s Funeral Service of Maple Creek and Leader was in charge of arrangements.