Murray Roddis and Bunnie Wigley at the block party (contributed photo by Bob Argent).

A celebration of a Red Deer woman’s remarkable life turns into a block party

Bunnie Wigley wasn’t supposed to survive to age 60

Bunnie Wigley was just 13 years old when a doctor predicted her acute Type-1 diabetes would kill her by the time she was 30.

On Saturday, the irrepressible Wigley celebrated her 60th birthday with a giant potluck block party her husband threw for her in Red Deer’s Eastview neighbourhood.

More than 100 people came out to be entertained by a Beatles tribute band from Calgary. Even Red Deer’s Mayor Tara Veer attended the celebration on the Joseph Welsh Elementary School grounds.

Wigley was tickled when Veer quipped, “If you get a band, you have to invite the neighbours. If you want to hold back all the complaints, you invite the mayor!”

But then, the Stettler native has been looking for the fun side of life since getting that emotionally devastating diagnosis.

Wigley can still remember the look on her parents’ faces when a Lacombe doctor told them she’d be blind by the age of 25 and dead by age 30. “It was the first time I’d ever seen my dad cry …”

She became angry at the diagnosis. “I was just 13!”

She decided that if her life was to be short, at least it could be full of laughter and adventure. Her philosophy has been: “I’m going to leave my dirty dishes in the sink for later — so let’s go!”

She motorbiked to the Mexican border at age 19, after marrying the first of three husbands. When her high school sweetheart broke up with her before she turned 30 because “he just couldn’t deal with it,” Wigley didn’t let it get her down.

She was to receive more bad health news, getting diagnosed with spina bifida, and going blind three times and having to get operations to regain her eyesight.

Wigley believes no one should give in to a diagnosis, but continue being grateful for the abilities they have.

She’s travelled to Europe three times, and taken every opportunity to golf. Two weeks after one of her legs was amputated due to an infection, she was dancing for the first time on her prosthetic leg.

In 2013, she met her present hubbie, Murray Roddis, a construction surveyor. “I’d never met anyone before who was that grounded and full of life!” he recalled.

He proposed to Wigley shortly after she suffered a debilitating stroke in 2016 that paralyzed half of her body. Wigley credits his support for helping save her life.

Although she now uses a wheelchair, she hasn’t given up hope of walking again one day.

With everything his wife has surmounted, Roddis figured a block party with a live band would be a great way to celebrate her 60th birthday.

The event was such a success the couple are planning to do it again next year as a fundraiser for local charities. They have already formed the All U Need is Love non-profit.

By then, Wigley might have crossed another item off her bucket list: “I want to try bungee jumping,” she said.


Murray Roddis and Bunnie Wigley at the block party (Contributed photo by Bob Argent).

Murray Roddis and Bunnie Wigley at the block party (contributed photo by Bob Argent).

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