Born: March 21, 1924, Saint John, New Brunswick
Died: April 7, 2008, Ottawa, Ontario
When she was in public school in Saint John, New Brunswick, the teacher asked the class who among them was a Loyalist. Afraid and ashamed she wasn’t, she ran home and was relieved to learn the Lefurgeys were indeed Loyalists, a proud and important legacy to her.
Dominated by a fiercely jealous husband, Gloria nevertheless remained fun-loving and young-at-heart although his post-war trauma began to interfere. When Ed won a scholarship to the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, their home was with other artists on then-undeveloped Toronto Island where living was carefree and cheap. She sold his illustrations to publishers for the cover of lurid pocketbooks “because she had great legs”, he said. In turn, she adored her gifted husband.
Lack of money for the purchase of a home and the niceties of life, even a vacation, resulted in years of frustration. She penny-pinched so her daughters would have pretty clothes at school and her sons could play with the latest sporting equipment.
Eventually her husband was diagnosed with PTSD and took an early retirement. Her life, as she knew it, shattered. At forty years old and with children still at home plus an ill husband, this brave and still-beautiful woman, who had never worked outside the home, was forced to enter the workforce. She taught herself typing at the kitchen table every night after everyone was in bed. She worked odd jobs: once as a hospital admissions night clerk in Emergency but quit because she couldn’t stand the sight of accident-mangled children or suffering patients. She ended up in Customer Relations at OHIP where suddenly Gloria’s wings began to spread.
When her husband died in 1986, she was grief-stricken. “You promised you’d never leave me alone,” she cried.
Although she lived on the memories of their passionate love affair in their youth, Gloria rediscovered herself. Besides making lifelong friends in her workplace, she received glowing performance evaluations. She became her own person and recaptured her youth through travel with friends, fine dining and elegant clothing. She was always there for her family and friends and loved to entertain. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren were her greatest joy.
She often said she was no-one special and had done nothing worthwhile in her life but Gloria lived a life worth living. At her Celebration of Life, one of her children shared this comment: “Years ago I asked Daddy why he always painted Mommy looking so sad, and he replied, “Because I captured a butterfly.”