We are saddened by the recent passing of Valerie Wright on September 10, 2023 at the age of 83. Valerie was very involved in our community of Stittsville for many years.
Prior to her retirement, she had been a devoted teacher and elementary principal with the Ottawa-Carleton Board of Education for 28 years. She loved reading and teaching her students about Shakespeare in particular. Upon retirement, she and her husband Tony moved out West, but Stittsville felt like ‘home’ and they moved back after a few years to be with their many friends again.
Soon after returning, Valerie (Val as everyone knew her) became involved in organizations and projects in Stittsville. She became a member of the Stittsville Rotary Club assisting with their international film series screenings with the money raised going to Rotary projects. In early January 2015, she was the inspiration, along with Theresa Qadri, to create and design a labyrinth for Stittsville. She had seen many in the UK and in BC and wanted residents here to experience the same positivity and calmness that a labyrinth would add to people’s hectic lives. The Stittsville Rotary Club took on the project and thanks to Valerie, the labyrinth at the W.J. Bell Rotary Peace Park officially opened on October 8, 2015.
She was also a member of the Goulbourn Township Historical Society (GTHS) and in early 2017, this editor had the privilege of being asked by Valerie to assist her in honouring those lives that had been taken during the Wars or had passed away after the fact. At the time, I was the editor of the GTHS newsletter and together Val and myself set out to research each veteran. Val worked tirelessly, carrying out the majority of the research. Val had asked me if I could research the name of each soldier (from the research she provided) from the Parliamentary Books of Remembrance held in the Memorial Chamber under the Peace Tower (now located in the visitor’s centre due to the construction of Centre Block). Also, visits to National Archives were made to access photos of the soldier’s tombstones and newspaper death notices when they couldn’t be found online. Our date for completion was in time for 2017 Remembrance Day to share an article in the GTHS Newsletter that appeared in the Autumn 2017 issue starting on page 10.
From this work, Val worked with GTHS to have a plaque created in memory of all of the fallen from Stittsville from World War I, World War II and Afghanistan. A committee was formed to ensure all of the research was accurate. A small booklet was printed, entitled, “A Walk to the Cenotaph” with each soldier’s name. The memorial plaque was installed on June 30, 2020 at the Cenotaph at the Johnny Leroux Community Centre and is in Canada’s two official languages. There was no-one more proud to see the memorial plaque installed than Valerie. She had worked so long to have our fallen remembered, it was a day filled with pride and happiness for Val.
When you attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Stittsville, please take the time to remember Valerie Wright for her inspiration and thoughtfulness for those from Stittsville who fought for our country and lost their lives.
Overcoming many health issues over the past few years, Valerie passed away peacefully from cancer at the Queensway Carleton Hospital on Sunday, September 10, 2023. She was the beloved wife of Tony Wright of 62 years and predeceased by her son Jonathan and her parents Flora and George Coates. She is survived by her daughter, Alison, son-in-law Mark and grandchildren Victoria and Stephen.
Rest in peace Valerie – you will not be forgotten.