On a fall day, October 27th 1911 in Edmonton, Alberta to Frederick and Pearl Morrison was born a beautiful baby girl. She was baptized “Alice Irene Morrison”. When Alice was a young child her family returned to Fort Frances where she would spend the rest of her life.
Alice received her education from Robert Moore School, Fort Frances High School, University of Manitoba, and the Ontario College of Education.
She began her career teaching at the Fort Frances High School and the Emo Continuation School. In 1957, Alice married Jozef Widurski. They would spend 29 wonderful years together. With her career well established and Jozef at her side, her dreams were being fulfilled. During her teaching years, she was allowed a leave of absence by the Board of Education to further her interests in school librarianship by attending the Ontario Department of Education Summer Schools and the University of Toronto School of Library and Information Science. She received a degree in Library Science and a Specialist Certificate in School Librarianship. She became the first professionally trained librarian in the district schools and taught in that capacity in the Fort Frances High School for 36 years. In October of 1999 she was honoured with the naming of the new Fort Frances High School Library “The Alice Morrison Widurski Library,” a very proud day in her life.
Alice‚s community interests were many. During World War II, she joined the Canadian Red Cross Society and the Royal Canadian Legion Auxiliary. She was a member of the Fort Frances Historical Society, Save Our Station Committee, the Fort Frances Business and Professional Women’s Club in which she was a founding member, past secretary and past president. She was past member and past chairman of the Fort Frances Public Library Board. She was a member of the Fort Frances Public Library, a member of Friends of the Library, the Fort Frances Film Council, and the Fort Frances High School Reunion Committee. She was a member, past president and past secretary of the District I Superannuated Teachers of Ontario. As an executive member she was responsible for producing constitutions and bylaws. Alpha Delta Kappa International Honorary Sorority for Women Teachers, past president of Fort Frances Chapter and past secretary of Ontario Alpha Delta Kappa. She was a member of the University of Women’s Club of Winnipeg and the Canadian Federation of University Women. She was a member of Beta Sigma Phi Fort Frances, past director of Alpha Upsilon Chapter, City Sponsor of Beta Sigma Phi and an Honorary member of Beta Sigma Phi. She was a past member of the Fort Frances Heritage Committee where she formed policies and was a font of information regarding the history of Fort Frances. She was a member of the Fort Frances Hospital Auxiliary. A member of the Polish Alliance of Canada, Group 38. She was the secretary for the Rainycrest Auxiliary. She was on the board of directors, Provincial Auxiliary Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors Regional Representative Region 9, Provincial Auxiliary OANHSS past president Provincial Auxiliary OANHSS. Alice was the first Northerner executive member. OANHSS coordinates all the auxiliaries of such institutions in Ontario. She was responsible for drafting bylaws for the organization. She belonged to the Association for the Preservation of English in Canada. She was a member of St.John’s Anglican Church, past Sunday School teacher, past Vestry member, and secretary of St.John’s Guild.
When Alice was just a little girl she replaced her name with “Toots”, and this nickname would be who she was to her family from that moment on. She was always at her family’s side, such a strength and inspiration, but above all, she showed unconditional tender love and care, especially to all the little children. Toots always believed that family ties were of extreme importance. She considered herself as having three families; her immediate family, her church family, and her sorority sisters. As accomplished as she was, she was a very humble and modest person. A wonderful sense of humour was yet another great quality she possessed. She had a calming effect on all those who crossed her path. Her education was extensive, her achievements were many, and she earned the love, respect and admiration from people of all walks of life. She was highly regarded by her pupils for her insistence that they strive to reach their full potential. She was a “Grand Lady”.
Alice was prepared spiritually for leaving this world, as she felt very close to God. She said, “My only regret in leaving this earth is that I still have so much to learn!”
Alice made footprints in the hearts and lives of so many. She loved the associations of family, church, friends, students, peers, mentors, colleagues, the stimulation of work, of talk, of reading, of writing, of loving…..To all of her dear friends, her passing will leave a great void, however her legacy will never die; LOVE is stronger than DEATH. To her family, “Toots” was and always will be PRECIOUS…..VERY, VERY PRECIOUS…..
In the Autumn of her life, Alice passed away on Friday November 8th, 2002, at LaVerendrye General Hospital in Fort Frances with her priest and family holding her hand. She is Heaven‚s Lady now.
She was predeceased by her husband Jozef Widurski, parents, Frederick and Pearl Morrison, brother James Morrison, sister Kathleen Morrison Callahan, nephews, Thomas Callahan and Sean Callahan, great-nieces Allison Armstrong and Heather Sawada.
Alice is survived by her sister Shirley Morrison Pelkey, niece Fran (Rob) Sinclair, their children Robbie Sinclair and Kathie (Lorne) Jackson. Niece Kathie (Mike) Sawada, their children Dr.Michael Sawada and Raija Sawada. Niece Mitzi (Larry) Armstrong, their children Nikki (Chris) Wiedenhoeft and Shane (Bobbi) Armstrong. Great-great nieces and nephews, Nicholas, Danielle, Sara, Austin, and Callahan, and numerous cousins. She is also survived by her God daughter Marzana Wiewiorka Bates.
Alice will lie in state at St.John’s Anglican Church from 7:00 pm Tuesday, November 12th through 2:00 pm Wednesday, November 13th . Prayer vigil will be kept by Beta Sigma Phi. Family and friends may pay their respects at any time during this vigil.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday November 13th, 2002, at 2:00pm at St.John‚s Anglican Church with Father Wayne McIntosh and Canon Terry McNear officiating, with interment in the Fort Frances Cemetery.
Following the service a Silver Tea will be held in Alice‚s honour at St.John’s Anglican Church Hall hosted by St.John’s Guild and Beta Sigma Phi Sorority.
Honourary Pallbearers will be Marg Haley, Georgina Connor, Jo Benson, Bruce Biddeson, Bruce Murray, Barry Cox, Michael Pierce, Rodney Salchert, Doc Johnson, Ron Anderson, Ron Bernardi, Dr.Brian Johnstone, Dr.Barry Anderson, and the CCU Nursing Staff at LaVerendrye Hospital.
Active Pallbearers will be Victor Gustafson, Gordon McTaggart,, Bill Gadd, Bill Wasykowski, Tom Kiddle, and Kevin Begin.
Should family and friends so desire, in memoriam donations may be directed to St.John’s Anglican Church, 360 Church Street, Fort Frances, Ontario, P9A-1E1.