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  • - Betty Jean
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JANUARY 22, 1922-OCTOBER 24, 2011
Laverna (Verna, or Dolly as she was known to her friends) passed away quietly at Trent Valley Lodge in Trenton, Ontario after a life of adventure and travel around the world.
She was born at her parents' home in Toronto, Ontario a few years after the end of WW I. Her parents, William Dollimore and Eva Somner had arrived in Canada from England on the penultimate crossing of the Lusitania wither her older brother Hedley. Their first daughter, Winnifred, had only lived to the age of two and died before they left for Canada. She was also predeceased last October by her dear sister Neysa Clark.
Verna graduated from Oakwood Collegiate in Toronto in 1937, took a business course at what was then Western Technical Commercial School and worked for Jenny Lind Candy Shops and Dominion Paper Box Company. But, when WW II started, so did her adventures. With her brother in the Army and her brother-in-law in the Air Force, Verna signed up for the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (Wrens) and was posted to HMCS Cornwallis where she became a Leading Wren, responsible for "victualizing" the base. She had passed the Petty Officer exam but the war ended before she could realize this ambition.
After the war, there were several secretarial and accounting positions before she joined the Department of External Affairs in 1956. Her travels started with her first posting to Cairo (soon after the Suez Crisis), followed by Warsaw, Poland and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the early '60's. She was seconded to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 1964 and then to the UN in New York before leaving for Leopoldville (now Kinshasa, DRC) in 1965. Then there were postings to Moscow (during the days of the Cold War and the USSR), Vientiane, Laos (during the Vietnam conflict) and an extended stay in London England. She was assigned to the Canadian Mission to the European Union in Brussels before heading to the Canadian Embassy in Tehran in 1977. She was awarded the Order of Canada for her part in the "Canadian Caper" and her final posting was to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before retiring to Brighton, Ontario.
She always worked quietly, stayed in the background and was modest about her accomplishments and experiences. Even with friends and family she was a model of discretion and we're sure that a lot of good stories died with her.
Laverna was a very special lady who will be missed by all her close network of friends and colleagues around the world as well as her nieces, great nieces and nephews, cousins and their families.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of her life will be held in the spring. Donations in her memory to Rotary International to support children's causes in Africa would be appreciated. Arrangements in care of the Walas Funeral Home, Brighton.
Published in The Ottawa Citizen on Oct. 29, 2011
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