Gardening 09

Betty Caroline (Pahl) Halm

May 26, 1928 ~ September 18, 2020 (age 92)


Betty Caroline Halm (PAHL)

May 26, 1928 - Sept. 18, 2020


It is with sorrow in our hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved mother.  

Betty was born in Chicago and also lived in Lipton, Saskatchewan and the Tupper district of Manitoba with her family of origin.  At a young age, she already showed her industrious tendencies. Her first job involved sweeping out the schoolhouse and lighting a fire prior to the other students arriving.  She spoke fondly of working in the Glenella post office when she was a teenager.  Betty always wished to play the piano and purchased a piano for herself when she was 16 years old. 

In 1947 she married Bernard Halm.   They farmed in Amaranth for 8 years (first children Wayne, Warren and Gloria were born), then lived in Richmond, B.C. for 6 years (added sons Glenn and Grant) and returned to a farm in the Plumas area in 1961 (added son Gregg).  Around 1967, the family moved to a farm in the Elphinstone valley (final child- Nadene). Mom grew vegetable gardens close to half an acre in size and canned hundreds of jars of vegetables, fruit and every sort of pickle every summer to feed the large family in the winter months.  She had enormous potato patches and baked huge batches of bread at least twice/week.  She made a ton of wild berry jellies which our Dad ate at the end of every meal with her bread. We were a lucky family to have everything homemade.  She was a meticulous housekeeper and we remember the amount of laundry she did on the old ringer washer, hanging everything to dry and then ironing.   Sweaters were hand-knit for everyone.  Mom and Dad enjoyed good neighbours and friends.  Mom gave every child the opportunity to take piano lessons if they wished.  Later this extended to Mom and Dad helping with post-secondary education for all 7 of us. I think we all brought friends home from university on weekends as Mom and Dad were such inviting and hospitable hosts.  

In the mid-1970’s, Mom took on the job of running the auction mart kitchen in Strathclair.  This involved cooking all day Monday in preparation for sale day on Tuesday.  Stock pots of soup, countertops lined with homemade pies, black forest cake, homemade hamburgers and a feature homemade meal were prepared every week for the crowds that gathered.  As I recall this now,  I do not know how she accomplished all of that on Mondays.  No wonder she became tired of cooking!  She also began to start tomato plants for her neighbours.  Bernard built her the first small greenhouse on the farm.  Little did we know what that would become as the years progressed. She was a quiet, cheerful woman and also a force to contend with in her strong will and energy.

In 1977, they built a house in the town of Strathclair.  Mom and Dad continued also with the farm until around 2003.  Mom was recruited at times to help with hauling bales or sorting cattle on the farm.  Along with the family, the first greenhouse moved to town also.  New buildings were added.  Mom melted snow and hauled water from the ditches in 10 gallon pails to water the plants.  A dugout was added to solve the water issues.  There was also the worry of the greenhouse furnace and heaters malfunctioning in the nights of cold, spring months when she had thousands of small plants newly transplanted.  A few of us had opportunities to help in the greenhouses but none of us could work as quickly or put in the 14 hour days that she did.   In the winter months, one of her great delights was assembling her seed orders for the following spring.  She enjoyed customers from many surrounding towns who would return year after year for Mom’s carefully tended plants- pinched back by hand to make them stronger, hardened off in cold-frames to make them hardier.  She was a calm, fair business woman and we observed hundreds of people having a little visit with her when they came to get their plants. 

Mom was a “sunny” person with an ever-pleasant demeanour and quick wit.   Betty and Bernard also enjoyed dancing- they were members of the local square dance club and attended old-time dances.  They had a wonderful circle of friends and in later years, regular card parties at each other’s homes. Betty came to enjoy a weekly outing of bingo at the municipal hall.  Mom won regularly- she had such positive energy- could that have anything to do with it we wondered? Dad and Mom liked going into Brandon for a day to shop and have lunch out a couple of times/month.  Mom was on first name basis with the major greenhouse suppliers and I would laugh that she wouldn’t even say who she was when she phoned them.  They knew her voice.  She took piano lessons in her 60’s in Brandon.  We all played cribbage with her and she usually beat us.   

Mom loved Christmas and would start baking multiple batches of Christmas cookies in November.  She was thrilled for everyone possible to come home for the holidays.  My children, Mary and Chris loved these extended sleepovers with uncles and aunts.  I would find them in Mom and Dad’s bed in the mornings laughing and playing with them.  She adored her grandchildren and they adored her.  She was a “fun” Gran, gentle and natural with children.  In later years, my children would stay with her in Neepawa for a week of swimming lessons.  She cultivated a raspberry patch because Mary loved them so much.   Everyone was excited for the times Gran would come to visit whether it be the west coast or Winnipeg.  At her house, she spoiled us with every type of pie and her fresh garden dinners with roast beef and gravy - incomparable in quality and flavour.   

In 2007, Bernard became ill necessitating a move to Neepawa, MB to facilitate her easily visiting him when his care became too heavy to keep him at home.  She looked after Dad at home for months past being advised that his physical needs surpassed what was safe for her physically.  She took care of him for hours every day at the facility and he passed in February of 2009.  Betty’s two sisters were also living in Neepawa and they helped each other through many losses during these years.  In hard times, Mom coped by plunging herself into work.  A greenhouse was erected, the entire backyard was tilled into a garden and the tradition of a business continued into her late 80’s.  She appreciated her good neighbours and a 1000-piece crossword puzzle on the dining table. She spoke of kind people from the local church and community looking out for her and regular visits from extended family and friends.  Mom was fiercely independent and stayed alone in the house in Neepawa until it was not possible any longer. 

Her last two years were spent in Winnipeg in and out of the hospital and finally at Riverview Health Centre.  It was a difficult time to be in a facility with covid-19 restrictions limiting family visits.  She had a bright smile for everyone into her final days.  She was brave and dignified.  

Mom is a hard act to follow.  Impossible really.  She was sweet and kind-hearted combined with incredible determination and work ethic.  She was admired and adored by her husband and children.  She always had a plan of what she wished to accomplish in a day but was also not short on nurturing and caring for her family.  We grieve her deeply and hold the memories of her close in our hearts.  

You did great Mom.  You ‘bloomed where you were planted’,  making the most of your circumstances and astounding everyone with what you could accomplish.  We couldn’t be prouder of you.   

submitted by Nadene Charlotte Halm Marlatt

  Pre-deceased by husband Bernard Halm, father Frederick Pahl, mother Charlotte Pahl (Dilk), brothers Herb and Donald, sister Ellen. Survived by her children Wayne, Warren, Gloria (Neil), Glenn (Carole), Grant (Michelle), Gregg (Bev) and Nadene (Derrick), 11 grandchildren and 15 great grand children, siblings Virginia Mercer, Howard and  Annette Pahl.

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