Sewing 08

Dorothy "Lorraine" (nee Partlow) Church

August 16, 1929 ~ January 11, 2024 (age 94) 94 Years Old

Dorothy "Lorraine" Church Obituary

Dorothy "Lorraine" Partlow Church

With sadness, the Church family announces Lorraine’s passing on the morning of January 11, 2024. In the unprecedented cold that engulfed Alberta, the girl from the north country completed her life journey and made for home. She was 94 years old.


Born in Grande Prairie in 1929, Lorraine was the oldest child of Albert and Helen (Powell) Partlow. She was beloved by Stuart, her husband of 65 years, who passed in 2016. Mourning her loss are sons Donald (Sandra), Brian (Kathy), Robert (Margaret), and a daughter, Kathryn (Timothy): grandsons Paul (Mariken), Wade (Ida), Eli (Supuni), Eric (Mina), and Kody (Shelby); grand-daughters Sarah (Mike) and Brooklyn (Luke); and great-grandchildren Olivia, Leoden, Crew and Hadley Jo. Predeceased by her sister, Joyce, she is survived by her brother, Don, of Victoria, BC.

At the age of 18, Lorraine made the leap from a one-room schoolhouse in the Flying Shot District to the Vermilion School of Agriculture (now Lakeland College). A talented artist and dressmaker, she graduated in 1949 with a diploma in Home Economics and the unshakable adoration of Stuart, a fellow classmate. He pursued her through the years that she worked at Singer Sewing Machine Co. They married in 1951 – she in a dress of her own making. His first job at the federal Research Station (“the Farm”) brought them to Lacombe. She was a member of this community for 70 years.


Lorraine dedicated herself to domestic life in the family home on C&E Trail. Known for her casseroles, she was a great baker who wowed us with her mastery of lemon merengue pie. Visitors who dropped in for tea could count on fresh cookies and squares. Her preserves cupboard groaned with jars of raspberry jam from her own berries and crab-apple jelly from local trees.

Lorraine sewed drapes for Rogers Home Furnishings but her real career happened day by day in the basement of her own home. On her trusty 1950’s Singer Sewing machine she churned out all manner of clothing; her knitting needles clicked away long into the evening. From mending and hemming to baby sweaters and Barbie Doll clothes, from wool mittens and socks to square dance and graduationdresses, from welding gear to denim bags and blankets, the range and quality of her production was astounding. If you have one of these objects in your life, you know not just her skill and creativity but her love as well. In service to others, her hands were never idle.

The most public celebration of Lorraine’s artistry was Fabrications: Stitching Ourselves Together. The first museum exhibit of domestic sewing in Canada, it featured 23 wedding dresses that she designed and sewed in the years 1950 to 1995. With 200,000 visitors in six cities, the exhibit drew her into the spotlight and onto the podium. Initially reluctant, she came to understand herself as one individual in the long, often invisible history of women’s textile production.

An admirer remembers Lorraine as “a gracious lady with a lovely manner”. She was capable of great warmth and generosity - and, in private, a startling sense of humor which - shared by Stuart - sustained their long and companionable marriage.

In four years of residence at Royal Oak Village, Lorraine faced challenges with dementia, deafness, pandemic isolation, loss and grief. She did so with grit and grace. The family wishes to thank Drs Olivier and Johnson, and the nursing and support staff at Royal Oak for their skillful attention.

In celebration of Lorraine’s life, we invite you to share your creativity and kindness with a world in need. Her ashes will lie beside Stuart’s in the New Salem Skafse Cemetery, Camrose, Alberta.

 

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