Irla Stewart

Obituary of Irla Stewart

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Irla Stewart (Telfer) 1927 - 2020

With sorrow and thanksgiving, Carole, Louise and Brenda and their families (Carole Ann Anderson (Bob) Mississauga, Louise Diane McGill (Tom) Markham, and Brenda Leigh Mercer (Steve) Belleville, grandchildren Catherine Anderson, David Anderson (Jenny), Karin Anderson (Bryce), Meghan McGill (Sean Albert), Eric McGill (Shane), Jake McGill (Erin), Jessie Mercer, Max Mercer and three great grands Brady and Adelaide Anderson and Felix McGill. announce the death of our Mom, Irla Dorcas Stewart (Telfer). Irla died peacefully at home, on October 22nd in her 94th year, and joined her beloved husband Don of 66 years.

Mom was born June 16, 1927 to Leigh and Edna Telfer, on a dairy farm near Ilderton. She shared her childhood days with brother Bill and sister Mary doing chores, cherishing family, community, and a love of music.  The Telfers had strong roots, and even stronger values. Mom married our Dad Donald in 1953, raised three girls and embraced nearly 66 years of a wonderful partnership with her best friend.

Irla celebrated eight grandchildren who, every day, she loved so very much.  From circus and musical performances, leadership, sport (baseball, golf, rowing, hockey, trampoline, figure skating, soccer, volleyball), business, academics and family, the achievements and successes of Catherine, Dave, Karin, Meghan, Eric, Jake, Jessie and Max made her so very very proud. Mom never missed a grandchild’s birthday or an opportunity to attend a milestone event. In recent years the addition of great grandchildren Brady, Felix and Adelaide brought a new glow for mom.

Irla Stewart leaves a true legacy that our families are so very proud of. Listing her achievements does not do it justice. Mom was driven not by just her love of music but the role it plays in our lives. Music makes laughter more boisterous, sentimental times more special, and times of hardship more manageable. Music was a pillar in her life. Where could we possibly begin to describe this? The Humberettes, Goderich Teen-Tones, McKay Choristers, Goderich Laketown Band, New Horizons Band and the world-renowned Earle Terry Singers are just a few of the amazing groups that she worked with and enjoyed every day. Mom saw a major concert in the same light she saw a singular music student at her piano. Music is a gift and Mom was determined to share it, big or small. Mom shared it on the big stage and the small stage, both as equally important. Mom’s impact on the music community and what music means will be felt for years to come.

Mom saw her church and community as the cornerstone of our family. When it came to church and community mom asked only what she could give. Mom would enter a room quietly and leave as a leader.  Mom had a deep commitment to her community, her neighbours, friends and family. Respect, empathy and understanding carried her forward as a highly effective community leader. Her church and her love of music made this a natural fit.

Mom had a keen attention to detail.  Irla was an organizer, a doer, always looking forward to, and usually at the forefront of the next adventure. ‘Let’s do it, get a list of what needs done, say thanks. This was a common conversation for the three of us growing up. The Scottish roots tour, family get-togethers, weddings, massive fundraising undertakings, band trips to Europe, only touch the surface of her organizing abilities. Mom made things happen. Although receiving many awards including the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow, she reluctantly took credit with humble dignity. Mom passed credit on to others, that’s just who she was. Mom led by hard work and example, she learned that on the farm in Ilderton

Mom enjoyed big events like attending the Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany in 2010 as much as having coffee more recently with her friends at Rosecliffe Gardens. Mom was about relationships and fellowship. From helping to raise funds to name a voice studio in honour of Earle Terry at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, Western University, to fundraising to build the Maitland Valley Medical Centre, to organizing a roots trip to Scotland for 80 people, Mom took pleasure in supporting her communities. Seeing happiness and enjoyment in others was thanks enough because, it’s all about service and what we can do for others.

There will be a Celebration of Life in Wesley Knox Church on November 6, 1:00pm. Sadly, due to Covid restrictions attendance at the church is restricted to family only. Wesley Knox will make a recording of the service and this will be made available through YouTube. Please feel free to express your favourite memories and condolences at the link provided.

We wish to thank Mom’s friends at Rosecliffe Gardens, her Wesley Knox community and Dr. Nair for all their love and support


Memorial donations can be made to any of the following:  Wesley Knox United Church at , or the New Horizons Band Award (The "New Horizons Band Award" in support of Music students at Western University, attention Karmen Ferraro, Don Wright Faculty of Music, Talbot College, Western University, London, ON  N6A 3K7 (cheques payable to Western University) or by calling 519-661-4200 or online at or to Earle Terry Singers (ETS) Scholarship donations payable to Conservatory Canada, 101 - 202 Queens Ave., London Ontario N6A 1J1.

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