Obituary for Val Fleming, Beamsville, Ontario
Kathleen Valerie Shillington Fleming went to be with her Lord and Saviour on November 16, 2022 at the age of 94. Often described as “one-of-a-kind” and a “force of nature”, she will be deeply missed by her large family and many friends.
On September 29, 1928, Val was a vivacious firstborn for Jack and Kay Shillington of Sioux Lookout, Ontario. She was an excellent student, an avid reader and had a spunk and sparkle that was memorable in the bleak post-depression years. Her dad was a lawyer but the call to WWII as an Army officer relocated their family of five to Nova Scotia. After his return from the war, the family settled back to Ontario.
In 1948, Val moved to the Niagara Peninsula, to learn secretarial skills and be a “Farmerette” to pick the fruit crop at local farms. Tall and stunning 19-year-old Val, saw handsome, hardworking, quiet, gentle Art Fleming on the main street of Beamsville, and set her sights on being picked by him! They dated for a year, and Val was introduced to life in this beautiful region and the church of Christ that was such an important part of the Fleming heritage. She was baptized at age 20, and lived her faith with purpose for the remainder of her days.
Art and Val were married in Brantford on October 7, 1950 and they began their lives in the home on Ontario Street where she and Art established their rich family history.
Val’s early years of marriage were spent partnering with Art to grow the Chicken Hatchery, and yearning to have a large family. 4 years went by before their “first chick”, Peggy was born and then in rapid succession, A.D., Tom and twins John and Andy burst on the scene. She often said 1954-1958 was a total blur. The tidy house exploded with chaotic energy and love. We all marveled at the organizational skills of this woman who ran a tight (but fun-filled) ship. Days were packed with music lessons, skating and hockey, church activities, Bridge Club, art lessons and galleries, trips to Toronto for O’Keefe Center productions and Maple Leaf games. Add to that, great meals, crazy back-yard fun, extended family and neighborhood/community involvement and you get a glimpse of life with Val. The addition of more bedrooms, a “family” room and more basement space meant there was always a guest room ready for family and visiting relatives and missionaries from far away.
At age 40 (with 5 teenagers!), Val enrolled at recently formed Brock University and completed a BA in Urban Geography. She loved this field (and though never employed by anyone) used the planning and development skills to enhance her world. Val was a collector of beautiful objects by local and world-renowned artists. Paintings, sculpture, quilts, Royal Doulton, great books and Irish Belleek headed her list. These passions led to a retail store she named “Heavenly Arts, Books and Crafts” in Beamsville’s uptown.
Travel became an important family pursuit. Art and Val had a goal to see North America and loaded the mob into the station wagon for epic family adventures, but their ultimate fondness as a couple, was to fly to the south of France where romantic picnics and Mediterranean living captured their hearts. Almost 4 decades of Cap d’Agde trips made their life sweet. Another favoured destination was Florida where they honeymooned for a month in 1950. Palm trees and sunny vistas brought peace into their busy lives, and Pompano Beach held a spot in their yearly travel plans. Many generations of family memories were created here.
Val’s devotion to being a Christ follower provided many opportunities for her to attend and fund mission efforts in Switzerland, France, Sweden, Honduras, Mexico, India, Russia and Ukraine. The Boards she sat on also reflected her love for Brock University, Shaw Festival, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Niagara Symphony, Beleek Society and Niagara College. Her 50-year Gourmet Group and her passion for reading and all things Butterfly are symbolic of her love of friends, community involvement and special events. Be sure to visit The Fleming Branch Library and the Val Fleming Butterfly Garden. Her life was coloured by beauty in every realm.
Val was preceded in death by her beloved husband Art and son Tom. Grieving for them occupied a huge space in her heart for the last 8 years. She will lovingly be remembered forever with stories told by her children Peggy Stirman (Greg), Arthur Fleming (Vernah), John Fleming (Glynnis), and Andy Fleming (Tammy), and also her grandchildren Hilary Reed (Matt), Hayley Hardcastle (Jason), Kathryn Boeker (Travis), Martine Fleming (Harold), Johanna Fleming, Andrew Fleming (Alyona), Rachel Fleming,
Lindsey Barecky (Daniel), Joshua Fleming, Kaitlyn Fleming (Shawn), Kathryn Burton, Britain Yakovleva (Maks), and Justin Fleming (Allison). The dozen Great-Grand Children delighted her and we know that there are more on the way. Val is also survived by her sister Karin Ferguson (Ian), her brother Ian Shillington (Valorie), and a host of nieces and nephews who she enjoyed hearing from.
The service to Celebrate the Life of Val Fleming will be held on Sunday, December 4th, 2022 at 2:00pm at the Beamsville Church of Christ at 4900 John Street, Beamsville, Ontario, L3J 0P2. There will be a link posted on beamsvillechurchofchrist.ca website afterwards.
If you desire, bless the charity of your choice in Val’s honour.