Irma was born on MacKay family farm near Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia on March 28, 1926, the eldest child of H. Guy and Gladys (Spares) MacKay. She attended school in Mill Village and nearby Shubenacadie to Grade 11, completing her Grade 12 in Truro, some 25 miles away by train, boarding with relatives there during the week. One of her fondest memories of that period was of her father meeting her at the train each Friday evening. Although she had always wanted to be a nurse, she was too young to be accepted at nursing school when she finished grade 12, so worked as a teacher in a one-room school house for 2 years. Irma graduated from Aberdeen Hospital Nursing School with top honours in 1948. As a nurse, she travelled and worked throughout the US (Detroit, Spokane, Santa Monica, Juneau) and Canada (Montreal, Calgary, Elnora, Salmon Arm, Stettler) making many life-long friends along the way. When she had first worked at Elnora Hospital in 1949, she met young Alan Barnes, who farmed west of Elnora, and although she left Elnora to continue her travels, they kept in touch by mail. She returned to the area in 1954. Irma and Alan were married on December 25, 1955, and worked together on the farm for the next 56 years, until Alan passed away in 2011. Irma continued to live on the farm, enjoying her garden, watching birds, and visiting with family for several more years. She moved to St. Mary’s Extended Care in 2017.
Irma is survived by her daughters Heather (Dan) Dorsey and Marion Barnes; her grandsons Lionel Dorsey and Mathew (Tara McNeil) Dorsey, sisters in law Helen Neufeld and Jean Ferguson, and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband Alan, and sisters Claire, Beverley, Dora, Anna, and Jean.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Irma’s memory may be made to Elnora Museum, Elnora Fire Department, or charity of choice.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, August 24, 2019 at 2 pm at the Elnora Community Center, Elnora Alberta with Rev. Margaret Lange officiating. Kneehill Funeral Services, Trochu, entrusted with arrangements. 403-443- 5111
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