Coreen Porter (nee Rathgeber) of Foxwarren (Melville) passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 at 86 years of age at Sunnyside Personal Care Home in Birtle MB. with her daughter Michelle and her best friend Ardena by her side.
She is predeceased by her husband Don and sister Elvina. She leaves behind three brothers: Ron (Jackie), Jerry, Dennis (Linda); five
children: Debbie (Kevin), Brian (Yvonne), Bruce (Nok), Michelle (Fred), Keith; three grandchildren, Jeremy, Haylea, Sarah; and one great-grandchild, Ethan.
Coreen was the eldest of John and Adela Rathgeber’s five children of Goodeve, SK. She was born at home on the farm in March of 1937, two-months premature, with her grandmother Bertha assisting with the delivery. She grew up on a farm on the Saskatchewan prairies, traveling to a one-room country school in the winter on a horse-drawn carriage. Being of Austrian descent, her first language was German. However, when her younger brother (Ron) began intermixing the German and English languages, her father declared English only. Coreen completed Grades 1 through 8 at the country school, after which her teachers assisted her with Grade 9 correspondence courses.
After her father’s health took a turn for the worse, he rented out the farm and the family relocated to nearby Melville in 1953. Her father was a traveling salesman (selling Rawleigh’s products) for two years, before buying the West End Grocery (corner store) in Melville in 1955. The family ran the store up until her father’s passing in 1956, leaving her mother to raise three rambunctious young boys (assisted by the rental income from the farm). Coreen was like a second mother to her brothers, notably the youngest Dennis (aka “the menace”).
Coreen completed Grades 10 through 12 at Melville High School. After graduating from high school, she attained her teacher’s certificate, then became a teacher at a small one-room country school west of Melville for a year. Coreen met her husband Don while waitressing at a local Chinese restaurant (The Cameo) in Melville. She likely assumed he was a sweet man, based on the copious amount of sugar he could dilute in a cup of tea! She spent another year teaching at a country school south east of Melville (Southview) while dating Don. They were married at the Zion Lutheran Church in Melville in 1957.
Don worked on the CNR railroad based out of Melville for many years as a fireman, while remotely farming a half section (320 acre) farm in Foxwarren MB (which he took over from his father in 1961). Coreen was a stay-at-home mom, working part-time selling Avon products, while raising the first batch of her rowdy brood (Debbie, Brian, Bruce). The three of them spent a lot of time at grandma’s house, forming a special bond with their teenage uncles (Ron, Jerry, Dennis).
Coreen was an avid bowler (alongside her mother) and was a Brownie leader (circa Girl Guides). She was close to her mother, siblings, uncles and aunts. She could often be found on a Saturday evening at her mom’s kitchen table playing Scrabble or Yahtzee, listening to a Melville Millionaires game on the radio.
In 1971 Don purchased the adjoining Armitage three quarter (480 acre) farm. They farmed the five quarter (800 acre) farm in Foxwarren MB remotely for two years. Following the birth of their last child Keith, Don left the CNR and they pulled up roots and relocated to the farm. The move proved difficult for Coreen. While only an hour and half drive away, it was difficult for her break her close ties with family and friends in Melville. Prior to moving Don partially renovated the five bedroom Armitage farmhouse, with renovations being completed over the next few years.
Coreen remained a stay-at-home Mom until her youngest son Keith was of school age, after which she began a career as a nurse’s aide. Initially at the Birtle Hospital, then later at Sunnyside Personal Care Home (PCH) in Birtle. It was more than just a career, as she formed special bonds with residents in the Personal Care Home, and was always saddened when one passed on. She took special care of PCH residents which needed the extra support their families were unable to provide.
Over the years there were frequent trips back to Melville, first to her mother’s house, then later to her daughter Michelle’s home. A car accident ended Coreen’s nursing career in 1996, but she later went on to volunteer at the Birtle PCH as the activity director. Coreen and Don resided on the farm up until they moved to the Birtle Personal Care Home in 2015. Don passed away two years later, leaving Coreen widowed yet comfortable in her new home in Birtle.
Coreen will be fondly remembered for her volunteer work in the Foxwarren community. A few of her stripes include canvassing for the Red Cross, a member of the Bayfield School Ladies Group, secretary for the Foxwarren Figure Skating Club, a Foxwarren 4-H Leader, a member of the Foxwarren Legion, a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Women’s group, a member of the Foxwarren Curling Club, etc. She also sold Christian books and greeting cards with her friend Ardena for New Life Books. She was even a school bus driver (in her blue Pontiac Parisienne) for a few years. A notable passion of Coreen’s was her membership and commitment to the TOPS (Take off Pounds Sensibly) organization. Over the years she supported numerous charities, World Vision and the Lutheran Church.
Coreen carted her kids around to various sports activities and music lessons. She particularly enjoyed watching her son Bruce play hockey for the Foxwarren Falcons. She will be fondly remembered for her decadent cinnamon buns, her delicious dinner rolls, crabapple jelly, chokecherry syrup, strawberry freezer jam, apple pies, rhubarb crisp and many other assorted canned/baked items. She enjoyed reading novels, playing Scrabble, lunches at Chicken Chef, bird watching, going for Sunday drives, visiting neighbors, and playing Kings in the Corner with Don on Saturday evenings while listening to the radio. In her later years she also enjoyed whacking down the odd dandelion with her cane.
Coreen’s quiet, yet strong demeanor, her incredible patience, her sense of humour, her sticky tab notes (aka “This is not my mess!”), and her ability to put the needs of others ahead of her own, made this world a much better place. She will be sadly missed by family and friends, and fondly remembered by the lives she touched over the years.
Goodbye Mom. May you rest in peace!
The Lutheran funeral service was held Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023 at 2 p.m. from the Foxwarren Community
Chapel with Rev. Judy Bauereiss officiating. A viewing was held prior to the service from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. at the Foxwarren Community Chapel. Coreen was laid to rest at the Foxwarren cemetery immediately after the service, alongside her husband Don. Lunch followed at the Foxwarren Leisure Center. If friends so desire donations may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Manitoba.
Friends may visit to leave a message of condolence for the family.
Braendle-Bruce Funeral Service, Russell in care of arrangements 204-773-2747.

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