Andrea Mai Atkinson
September 24, 1953 - January 4, 2019
Andrea Atkinson left us in the early morning on Friday, January 4, 2019, quietly and with her husband Lee beside her, two and a half years after being diagnosed with cancer a second time. She faced her daily struggles with astonishing grace and courage, always grateful for the support of her family and friends, and usually more concerned about them than she was about herself.
Andrea was born on September 24, 1953, in Kapuskasing, Ontario, the third of eight children for David and Gunilla Husband. The family moved to North Bay, Ontario, where Andrea grew up surrounded by the forests that would become the focus of her life’s work. Andrea and Lee met when they both had summer jobs at Algonquin Park, a place she loved. They were married on August 29, 1975, and for more than 43 years Lee was her loving partner and best friend. They were blessed with two children, Ingrid and Guthrie, and Andrea saw them as her greatest gifts.
In 1979, Andrea completed her Bachelor of Science in Forestry at the University of Toronto and, soon after, moved “temporarily” to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She was hired as a forester with the provincial government, beginning a 38-year career with the Forest Service. Her intellect, passion for the work and practical approach earned her the respect of colleagues and clients, although more than one person learned the folly of underestimating the cheerful, deceptively young-looking woman with the braids and the big smile. Andrea firmly believed that work should be fun, and her co-workers will remember her enthusiastic participation in branch Christmas parties (‘Wheel of Forestry,’ anyone?), dressing up for Hallowe’en, and her delivery of ‘the birthday gift of song’ to their offices. She was a charter member of the Studs and Peelers, the Forest Service Relay for Life team, shaving off her beautiful long hair, not once but twice, to raise money for the Cancer Society. Despite her failing health, Andrea leaned on Lee and Guthrie to walk with the team at the 2018 event, her eighteenth.
Words can never properly convey all that Andrea was and how much she meant to so many. She was one of the original Wild Women, a group of friends with whom she shared many weekend getaways filled with laughter. Andrea loved old movies, good books, dancing, puzzles, gardening and collecting quotations that inspired her. She had a gift for writing and was known to one and all as the Grammar Queen. Andrea was willing to lend a hand anytime, at work, at home or to her Wesley United Church family. One of her greatest pleasures was sharing a glass of wine with Lee at the end of a long day, ideally with a purring cat curled up in her lap.
Andrea will be remembered with love by her husband Lee, daughter Ingrid and son Guthrie; her siblings Kathryn, Christine (Bill Boyd), Shelagh (Steve Kressler), Brita Promane, Fiona (Stuart Laidlaw), Lennart (Nancy Prior) and Rhondda (David Nathaniel Webster); Lee’s sisters Laurie (Don Boyd) and Iris; father-in-law Rodney Atkinson; many nieces and nephews; and her many, many friends. Andrea was predeceased by her father David in 1992, her mother-in-law Alanna England in 2011 and her mother Gunilla in 2017.
A service to remember Andrea will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, January 26, 2019, at Calvary United Church, 115 25th Street East, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. A private family interment will follow at a later date.
Instead of flowers, Andrea’s family would appreciate donations in her memory to the Canadian Cancer Society or to a charity of your choice. Arrangements have been entrusted to Gray’s Funeral Home, Myriam Minier, Funeral Director, phone 306-922-4729. Condolences may be sent to the family at grays.ca
“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” ― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream