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Valley Lives - Eunice Honegger

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the June 16, 2010 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Chelsea School secretary was all sweetness

by Trevor Greenway

Eunice Honegger dies of cancer at age 80

Students could be most inventive in finding an excuse to get to the Chelsea Elementary School office during a 30-year period beginning in the late 1960s.

It wasn't to avoid math period, or to loiter in the hallways, it was the chance to dip a hand into school secretary Eunice Honegger's famous candy bowl. The kids did what they had to do, even purposely misbehave, to reach the prize while she filled the secretarial position - and the candy bowl - from 1967 to 1997 when she retired. "It was crazy how many excuses kids came up with to go to the office for candy," said Heidi Honegger, Eunice's daughter. "Even kids who got into trouble got to dig in to the candy bowl."

Valley Lives
Everybody still talks about Eunice Honegger's candy bowl on her reception's desk at Chelsea Elementary. Honegger died of cancer at the age of 80. Photo courtesy Heidi Honegger.

Marg Clarke, who was the Grade 6 and head teacher at Chelsea School from 1966-1994, remembers making up an excuse for a student visit to the office. "There was one young lad who said, 'I've never been,'" said Clarke. "There was no reason for the child to come (to the office), but he hadn't got any candy yet. So I made an excuse for him to go."

Eunice Honegger died of cancer on May 24 in Wakefield She was 80. "She was a really special lady and I am really going to miss her," said Clarke, who referred to Honegger as her "oldest and best friend in the world."

Heidi Honegger remembers not being able to get away with anything at the school, as her mom would always "hear about it." "There was no keeping secrets from her," she said. Heidi said it must have been a bit tougher on her older brother, Chris, who was prone to acting up a bit more than she. There was more to Honegger's office role than answering phones and refreshing the candy, for back in the day the school secretary was "everything," said Heidi. She was the keeper of the first aid kit as well and she spent hours patching up kids who had scraped their knees or elbows playing on the school grounds. "She always made the kids feel better," said Clarke. No doubt the candy helped.

At home, Honegger was a loving, caring mother and wife, an avid traveler and a music lover. Husband Don is now alone in the same house the two bought together in Chelsea after they married in 1957.

"The nights are long and the mornings are quiet," he said. His wife was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and she decided to fight the disease without treatment for 15 months. But the cancer spread and struck quickly in May. "It went so slow at the beginning," said Don, who was planning a future Europe trip with his wife. "But in one month, everything fell apart."

Eunice Honegger is survived by Heidi, Chris and husband Don.


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