A Tribute to My Loving Sister Dale Roberts

Wayne’s November 19, 2011 memorial tribute to Dale Roberts:
Welcome, and thank for you coming to this celebration of Dale Roberts.  I hope we can share many happy memories together, and support each other through our sorrow.
Dale wanted this gathering to enjoy one of her favorite views, which I think offers a lovely picture window into her own life. The two of us spent many days of our childhood clambering about these hills getting fully-body poison ivy rashes. Decades later, we often came to this park with our parents and children. A duck named Fred came here every spring to say hello to Jaime when she was very young. And we enjoyed many special meals in this restaurant.
As you know, Dale loved the outdoors, camping, picnicking, hiking, biking along the waterfront. These Scarboro Bluffs are  one place where she learned to love spending time with family and friends in Nature.
Dale lived her days well. She was a loving daughter to my parents, a great sister for me, a joyful participant in the Farmer clan, a wonderful neighbor, a terrific friend, a gifted teacher, a dedicated activist and a delightful life companion. We will catch some glimpses of these sides of her today.
Dale’s spirit triumphed despite her illness. She knew she had lived a full life. The day after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, still full of energy, she walked over to my house, Lori and I walked her back along the boardwalk, through the yard of her lovely apartment overlooking the beach, and she said to me “I’m a lucky girl.”
Dale was born in 1948 and spent her childhood on Oakridge Drive, a few miles from here — a lovely street occupied by World War 11 veterans who were offered half an acre for $200, and a chance to build their own homes and a new life after 15 years of Depression and War. Among the families on that street were the McGee’s and the Gassyt’s, both from the family that adopted my own mom when she was 14. We grew up surrounded by neighbors who can only be described as “salt of the earth,” people who gave Dale and me our lifelong sense that the world has many good people who sometimes need a little hand up, but will pay that gift back many times over.
Though she had to endure a lot of teasing from me, she grew up in a loving home and neighborhood, had great girlfriends and boyfriends , enjoyed skating on the rinks along the street, became an excellent swimmer, was a very good student, and an excellent fun-maker.
She  loved jumping into piles of leaves, could contort her face to do some great imitations of people, sang a wonderful falsetto that made dogs howl and cats squeal, made up lovely silly verses for people on birthdays and Christmas.
Although she was relatively short and slight, she lived life Big, travelled around most of the world, climbed Machupichu, supervised a children’s camp in the Ukraine, hiked through southern Africa, bussed through Europe, traipsed through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand,  trekked through Nepal, and beached it in Cuba.
She loved children, and delighted in giving them a good start in life. She and my mom used to travel to different schools to give talks about peace. Her first fulltime job was at the Massey Home for single teenage moms. She was a devoted teacher of kids with special needs.   She was totally devoted to her own children, and was a loving aunt to my two daughters, especially during the years Jaime and I lived with Dale’s family.
Dale lived life big and she lived life strong. Our public medical system came through for her with flying colors. Our own family doctor, Donna Hendrickson, turned on a dime to come through for her and quarterback Dale’s care in the first traumatic days. Then a series of Toronto East General  oncologists provided treatment, advice and kindness, and doctors and nurses and support workers went the extra mile for her in palliative care – not that Dale, stoic to a fault, wasn’t always checking in to make sure they were all okay, and she wasn’t inconveniencing them.  I am so grateful that she got to feel the deep love of family and friends by her bedside, free of pain.
We all had to  be very strong for Dale to support her over her last two months.  To be honest, I am just starting to let go today.  I hope you all feel comfortable expressing your sorrow here today, but leave here confident that we will long share the great gift of many memories she leaves behind.


  1. Anne Palmer says:

    Thanks so much for posting this for all to see. How lucky you all were to have her in your lives as she was to have you. Many blessings sent your way. Anne

  2. Joanne Bays says:

    This is a such loving touching tribute…
    My heart goes out to you all


  3. Jan Mears says:

    Sitting in the comfort of my living room on a cold and rainy night, I found this. What a wonderful uplifting tribute to Dale. Thanks for sharing it Wayne.

  4. David Kruger says:


    Like everything I’ve read that you written, beautiful. I’m sorry I never got the chance to meet her. She sounds like somebody I’d really enjoy being around. Sending you a hug.

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