Emery Cawsey, an only child, was born in Red Deer, Alta. in 1940. His mother passed away when he was just four years old.
After high school, he was hired by the Beneficial Finance Corporation in Red Deer; three years later he married his high school sweetheart Geraldine (Gerry) Ditto.
Gerry was born in Lacombe, Alta. in 1942. She was raised on a farm in the small community of Alix.
Gerry reflected back and said, “Emery and I actually met in grade school in the small village of Alix which is just northeast of Red Deer. We dated through high school, went to barn dances together and held hands every chance we got.
“In 1960, Emery moved to Red Deer and I was off to Calgary for three years of nurses training at the Calgary General Hospital. We got married in 1963 and shortly after that Emery received a transfer to Prince George which required a two-year commitment. We decided to call it our B.C. honeymoon and we moved west.”
Emery said, “I opened Beneficial’s new Prince George office above Woolworth’s, on the corner of Third Avenue and Victoria Street. We actually had more signage on the building than Woolworth’s did.
“We were totally unprepared for the boom town of Prince George. The city was exploding with people and living accommodations were hard to find. One prospective landlord demanded one year’s rent in advance - and he got it. There was a big demand for services and scheduled appointment dates were not always reliable. We learned patience living in a motel and finally found a place to rent.
“Slowly things came together. Gerry was working in the surgery unit at the hospital and my business was booming. Moving to Prince George turned out to be the right thing to do.
“After the two-year commitment was up, the company being true to their word offered me another transfer; by this time, we could see a real future for ourselves and for the city of Prince George so we easily decided to stay. It seemed that nearly everyone here was new to Prince George just like us so we all had that in common. We met many new friends and we all became like family.
“I worked for Beneficial for 39 years and retired in 1999 at the age of 59.”
Gerry worked at the hospital until the children started to arrive and then she became a stay-at-home mom. She loved every minute of it and her life now centered around her family. They were well connected, enjoyed family activities and spent time at their cottage at Cluculz Lake. While the children were in school, Gerry taught piano lessons and hosted recitals with her students.
The children got older and Gerry started to prepare to return to her nursing career by taking the required refresher courses. She did her homework at the same table next to the children as they did their homework. Gerry said, “Those were really some special times. We have three wonderful children: Denise (Phil), Cheryl and Emery (Ann) and we are blessed to have six beautiful grandchildren. They are all such good people.”
Gerry went back to work and retired in 2003 after a rewarding career as an enterostomal therapy nurse at the ostomy and wound clinic.
Emery has served on the board of the Prince George Senior Citizens Housing Society, coached a minor hockey house league and is a charter member of the Spruce City Lions Club.
They are both active members of Trinity United Church, supporters of a nursing bursary with the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation and volunteers at the cancer clinic. Over the years, they have volunteered for many major events held in Prince George that needed volunteers.
They have always enjoyed time with their friends from the square dance and round dancing group, golfing and the seniors curling group just to name a few.
Of course, all of this has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so for now they stay connected with family and friends in their small bubble, reach out to others on line and stay active by exercising at home and walking their dog Mr. Mitchell.
In conclusion Emery and Gerry said, “We feel grateful for each other, for our life in Prince George, for our family and for our friends.”