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In Loving Memory
December 31, 1926 ~ November 18, 2023
Annetta “Annette” Lillian Boles was born December 31, 1926, in Linwood, Manitoba, south of Carberry, to Jack and Fan McLaren. She was born the first of five children, big sister to Doug, Don, Marg and Jimmy. After high school Mom worked for the Manitoba Telephone System as a switchboard operator, often working overnight. As she and Doug shared a bicycle, he would bike into high school in the morning, and she would bike home. When the machine shop was turned into a museum and had an exhibit of the switchboard, she was able to confirm that Kelly had gotten the process right.
Right after turning 18 she married Harry Boles on, January 10, 1945, and her oldest son Ken was born before the year was out. Over the following 11 years she had seven more children, Merle, David, Carol, Val, Clarke, Murray, and Wilma “Billie”.
Harry and Annette began their married life together with his widowed mother living in the house his father built in the Harte area. Despite her youth, Harry had found himself a capable wife; cooking over a wood stove, milking cows and generally working on the farm, maintaining a garden, and bearing and caring for more and more children almost every year.
Around the time David was born something important happened to her. She fell in love with the Bible and the God who authored it. She took great pride in being part of the effort to obtain religious freedom, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Canada and helping promote the creation of a national Bill of Rights by collecting Signatures for the 1949 Bill of Rights petition by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Soon she dedicated her life to her God Jehovah on June 19, 1949. It was always a pleasure to attend conventions and circuit assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She sewed every outfit her daughters wore to these occasions, sometimes four identical outfits several times over, now memorialized in quilts somewhere. She found great joy in talking to her friends and neighbours about the grand promises the Bible contains regarding the future for mankind and our earth. Mom’s trust in Jehovah included absolute faith in the resurrection hope and the promise of life everlasting in a paradise earth, free from sickness and, death as described at Revelation 21:3, 4. She’d be the first to say: “Graveyards remind us of the brevity of life; the resurrection hope reminds us of the brevity of death.”
In 1960 the Boles family moved to the Boles homestead at Summerville. More room and more garden space. The family happily farmed there, frequently enjoying baseball games with the congregation and the school district until 1968 when the farm was sold. Socials at the Summerville School House were always a fun event.
In 1968, with the three youngest children still at home, they moved into the Gingerbread House in Carberry, renting for a year and then purchasing it in 1969. First order of business after the house was hers was to paint the white brick & trim on the Gingerbread House, painstakingly outlining each white brick with black paint to make them Pop! Annette was 75 the last time she borrowed enough scaffolding to paint the trim. Having broken her shoulder the summer before, she commented that “Climbing up and down three storeys of scaffolding three times a day has really worked out that shoulder.” Many family and friends remember the annual corn boils at the Gingerbread House, and take pride in having been invited to stay there over the years.
The Gingerbread House was sold to the Museum Board in 2004` when they moved to an apartment in the Marshall Place. Whenever, the regular tour guide needed a day off, Mom was happy to take over at the museum giving tours. Whenever she would walk people through the house, she’d look at the floors and tell everyone that “if I’d known how good those floors would come up, I’d have four sons very angry with me”. Our mother has continued to maintain the flower beds and her garden at the house through 2023. When we tried to encourage perennials going into the flower beds instead of her purchasing annuals every year she said: “But the perennials don’t have that POP of colour that the annuals do”. So we’d make donations to her flower expenses every year to ensure she could afford to make the flower beds look as lovely as she wanted. Every year, the flower beds at the house had to be “just so” in time for fair week.
Mom’s interest in everyone and everything was evident in her relationships with all who knew her and often those who hadn’t met her yet. Anyone wanting to find out about the history of this area, only needed to ask Annette. In going through her papers, we found many letters from people from all over the world asking about their ancestry as it related to Carberry. Want to know where some long-lost relative might live? Ask Annette. Her reply would be “just a minute’” and in a bit she’d come up with who they were, where they lived, what type of farm they ran, and everything in between.
With children grown, her work ethic dictated she must keep busy, although in later years, she decided when she turned ninety she’d quit some of her jobs. She helped her former daughter-in-law launch a flower shop business and when that was finished, opened her own. She was someone who could learn to do anything from a book and was able to make beautiful arrangements without any formal training. When the Watchtower Society began putting research literature on computer, she got a computer and learned how to use it. To communicate with her grandchildren; was a regular at the library using the internet to email everyone. For many years, she delivered library books to the care home and even read to the elderly (many of whom were younger). CoVid Lockdown? No problem, she not only had her laptop and the internet, she also subscribed to have a Zoom account so that she could keep connected with family and friends for more than 40 minutes at a time, and up to late October was hosting the monthly Boles family zoom meeting. Even taking on responsibility to open and close the outside doors at the Marshall Centre right up to the end of October, 2023. She failed at her goal of quitting her jobs. If anyone had a need, Annette was the one you knew you could always depend on.
She loved to travel, both far and wide. Sometimes to Yuma, Arizona with other snowbirds, a far away destination of Fiji and New Zealand for an International Convention, or to visit her daughter in England or another daughter at Mara Lake, BC in the summer.
Her longevity is no surprise, and not just because of good genes. She always maintained her health; both mentally and physically. Any time someone had an ailment they didn’t quite know how to deal with, Mom might have a solution for that. And her ability to do foot or hand reflexology, soothed many a weary body and soul. She maintained friendships with people of all ages and as a result has many bonus children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
After her diagnosis with cancer earlier this year, her family supported her in her efforts to slow its progress and to do the things she wanted to do. She never lost focus on the promise of a new world and perfect health that Jehovah has given us, holding this close to her heart. She found peace and tranquility in the song “Just Around the Corner”. When we hear that song we will always think of her huge heart, generous spirit, big smile and twinkle in her eye. This summer, most of her children, some grandchildren and great-grandchildren were able to come from far and wide for a good visit and to work with her in the garden and flower beds at the Gingerbread House.
Annette fell asleep in death November 18, 2023, with family by her side. Annette loved and lost her parents, Jack and Fan McLaren, son Murray Boles, siblings, Doug, Don and Marg, son-in-law Ken Judd and husband Harry Boles. She leaves a wonderful heritage of treasured remaining children: Ken (Amy), Merle Judd, David (Bev), Carol Vonau, Val Arrotta (Pat), Clarke (Helen Downey), Billie.
Cherished grandchildren – Mike, Trevor, Michelle, Raquel (Quinton)Stewart, Dan Judd, David(Angelle), Darrin, Ashley (Brent) Johnson, Kyle (Shandra) Vonau, Brandy, Kiera, Cort (Jeanette) Arrotta, Star (Allan) Park, Kaine Kozowy, Flynn (Rachel) Walker.
And several Great Grandchildren and one little Great-Great Grandchild. Five generations in all.
In lieu of flowers the family request: any charitable donations can be made to the Gingerbread House for upkeep of the house and grounds or to Watchtower at JW.org. Or, any time you’re in Carberry and pass by the Gingerbread House, pick a weed, or plant a flower in the flower bed in her honour.
For those unable to attend a zoom session will be available Thursday, November 23, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. C.S.T.
Zoom ID 89814345395
Carberry Museum and Gingerbread House
Box 1072, Carberry MB R0K 0H0