Mary Kathleen "Kay" Zelmer (need Grimes)
Obituary for Mary Kathleen "Kay" Zelmer (need Grimes)
Mary Kathleen “Kay” Zelmer (nee Grimes)
August 15, 1936 - May 4, 2020
Mary Kathleen “Kay” Zelmer (nee Grimes) was born in the Saskatoon Civic Hospital, Saskatoon Saskatchewan on August 15, 1936 to Henry Basil (Ted) Grimes and Eliza (Elsie) Craig Anderson.
A few months later the three of them moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba. That became her home off and on for the next 27 years. Through the course of her childhood she came to know the
Canadian Prairies well, living in Winnipeg Manitoba; Regina, Lumsden and Choiceland Saskatchewan; and Calgary and Edmonton Alberta. She also traveled frequently by rail to visit
grandparents in Brock and St. Louis Saskatchewan, often accompanied by her much younger brother Al who she tended to treat more as her child than a brother.
When she was 4, Kay caught polio. Fortunately, her mother was an experienced nurse; with her help Kay was able to shake off the disease and fully regain the use of her legs within a few
months. It only became an issue again much later in her final years when post-polio syndrome made it difficult for her to walk without a cane.
Kay was a very spiritual person since childhood. At the age of 9 she began attending a catholic school and discovered God. That led her and her parents to convert to Roman Catholicism. She
was a devout Catholic through most of her life. She left the Church when she married her husband Ralph Allen Zelmer in December 1959 given he was a Protestant, but rejoined it again
in 1991 after the two of them moved to Surrey British Columbia. She attended mass regularly from then on until her passing.
The arts were also a calling for Kay. She was an avid reader and a self-taught seamstress and painter. She read a wide range of books, loved to sew and quilt, and wrote an entertaining
auto-biography in later life (which was very helpful in preparing this summary of her life!). She also loved music. She sang in church choirs in Dorval Quebec and Surrey B.C. and loved the
musical events in her retirement home.
At the age of 16, Kay left school and began working at the Royal Bank of Canada in Winnipeg as a teller. That was the start of a very long association with that bank. She worked for the bank
in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and then back in Winnipeg until 1960 when her first son was born. After that she was a stay-at-home mother raising two sons until she rejoined the bank in
1973 in Dorval. A few years later she was transferred to the bank’s Montreal Head Office, where she worked in its real estate department until she left the bank in 1990.
Kay’s sense of adventure developed from her moves as a child carried into adulthood. After marrying Ralph in December 1959 she and Ralph had two sons: Mark in August 1960 and
Wayne in August 1963. The four of them plus their Irish Setter Shane moved to Dorval in January 1964 so that Ralph could work at the Royal Bank’s Montreal Head Office. In September
1990 they finally realized Ralph’s dream to retire to British Columbia and moved to Surrey BC.
Kay and Ralph spent more than 20 years in BC enjoying everything Western Canada had to offer. However, they were both getting older and health issues were beginning to emerge. So
in July 2011 they moved to a waterfront condo apartment Halifax Nova Scotia to be closer to family, notably Wayne and Rachel who live nearby in Waverley. They spent 7 years there until
August 2018 when they moved to the Parkland-at-the Lakes retirement home shortly before Ralph's passing.
Ralph’s passing was very hard on Kay. He had suffered from dementia and she had been his primary care giver for many years. After he was gone Kay’s health deteriorated and she found
the days long, especially in her final weeks where her retirement home like so many others was closed to visitors to protect the residents from the Coronavirus.
In the end she passed away suddenly but peacefully on Monday, May 4, 2020 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Predeceased by her beloved husband Ralph Allen Zelmer. Loving mother to Mark (Sheila) and Wayne (Rachel). Predeceased by her parents Ted and Elsie Grimes, stepfather George Demers,
and her only brother Alexander “Al” Demers.
Survived by sisters-in-law Ella Demers, Joyce Zelmer, Phyllis Robertson, and many nieces and
The family would like to extend their sincere thanks and gratitude to the staff of Parkland-atthe-Lakes (Kinross Hall) retirement home, Dartmouth N.S. for their care and support over the
last two years.
If you wish to make a donation in Mom's memory, please donate to the charity of your choice
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