Valley Lives - Nodwell. Elizabeth Mary

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 24, 2019 issue. Reprinted with permission.

A life spent helping and teaching

By Hunter Cresswell

Elizabeth Mary Nodwell spent her life up until her last days helping others and teaching people to be as kind and generous as she was.

Elizabeth Mary Nodwell
Longtime Wakefield Elementary School teacher Elizabeth Mary Nodwell died on July 12 in her home country of Wales. Photo courtesy Bethan Nodwell.

Nodwell, née Fudge, was born March 21, 1939 in Porth, Wales and died in her sleep on July 12 in Swansea, Wales.

Most Wakefielders would remember her from her decades teaching kindergarten at Wakefield Elementary School. She was a large part of its happy atmosphere and was integral to the education and development of many children in the community. She was well known for her jolly songs and piano playing, and for her beloved 'dinosaur week' classroom decorations.

At the time of her passing, Mary had returned to her home country for two reasons. She was to attend a 60th reunion of her teachers college. Generous to the last, she was helping current Wakefield Elementary School fifth grade teacher Alison Hopper, also from Wales, take care of her three-year-old twins on the trans-Atlantic flight to see her parents.

After graduating with her teaching degree in Britain, she followed her brother, Trevor Fudge, who had moved to Canada. It would be a bit of an adventure - a place to teach and explore for a while, with no longterm plan. She then met Samuel Allan Nodwell in Montreal.

She and Allan, as he was known, married soon after and moved onto Scott Road in Chelsea in the early-1970s. She spent those early years teaching morning kindergarten in Chelsea and the afternoon kindergarten in Wakefield. It wasn't long until they put down roots in Wakefield and she taught at the school full time. The community was welcoming, and in 1977, theirs was the first house on Chemin Tibbit.

Wakefield resident Erin Aucoin remembers her old kindergarten teacher from 1983-84 - they also became close friends. "I didn't realize that fantastic songs like 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary', 'K-K-K-Katy', and 'Molly Malone' were not part of a regular five-year-old's singing repertoire until I grew up," Aucoin recalled. "Many years later, I am teaching my children the same songs she taught me."

It was in this home that they raised Bethan, now a nurse at the Wakefield Hospital who still lives in Wakefield, and Trefor, a plastic surgeon, living and working in Ottawa. She was a loving mother who had a song for everything and a love of baking. She was so magnetic and engaging that many of her children's friends ended up befriending her.

Mary retired from teaching in 1996 but she still remained active in the community. She took part in book clubs, was involved with the Anglican Church, and even helped coordinate Wakefield Elementary student Christmas carols during the holidays. For years, she hosted medical students and residents completing their rotations at the Wakefield Hospital. With an unmatched ability to identify a pupil's strengths, she continued to tutor lucky students at her home on a weekly basis. As such, for some in our community, she taught three generations of family members.

About 10 years ago, Mary was diagnosed with cancer. The successful treatment was not without significant side effects, but even they couldn't keep her down. Never one to squander a second chance, she remained active with her family, friends, and community.

In the last decade, she travelled the world. In addition to visits to England and Wales, she would venture to Africa, St. Lucia, southern France, and Hawaii.

Mary had many accomplishments of which to be proud. Without hesitation, however, she would say that her greatest achievement was the daily and weekly involvement she had with her four grandchildren, her greatest loves. She was a beloved grandmother, known fondly as 'Aggie'. She had a song for every occasion, a craft for every season, and never arrived without homemade baking.

Trefor will always recall her boundless energy, selfless spirit, and unending motherly love.

Bethan will remember her mother as trustworthy, loving, warm, kind, generous, reliable, funny, and patient. "She was a natural teacher," Bethan said, "so she ultimately developed in my brother and me a love of learning."

She lived life to the fullest and, as Bethan aptly put it, "She went out like a comet."

Predeceased by her husband, Samuel Allan Nodwell, she is survived by her daughter, Bethan Nodwell; son, Trefor Nodwell (Jillian Macdonald); and four grandchildren - Sam and Robyn Hoopey, and Berkley and Wilder Nodwell.

A memorial service is scheduled for Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. at the Centre Wakefield La Pêche. In lieu of flowers, Nodwell requested donations be made to the Church of the Good Shepherd in Wakefield

With contributions from Bethan Nodwell and Trefor Nodwell.

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