Our family is deeply saddened to announce the death of Stephen James Whitely, age 68, after complications from congestive heart failure. He died on April 8, 2023 in Calgary, Alberta.
Steve was born to Donald and Norma Whitely on July 27, 1954 in Sarnia, Ontario. Raised on the family farm at Reece’s Corners, he enjoyed a happy and memorable childhood. As the eldest of five siblings he was lovingly targeted with many jokes and pranks from his younger brothers. His youth was filled with various jobs, including working at Jungle World and Krall Poultry Farms. He loved sports, and enjoyed playing baseball from a young age and was active in various high school athletics.
He was a devoted husband to the love of his life, and best friend, Francie. They began dating in high school, and they were forever a pair after their first date. They were married on May 31, 1980 in Petrolia, Ontario. They lived in London and Orangeville for a short while before they relocated to Calgary, Alberta for Steve to begin his career in the oil and gas industry.
In 1982, they embarked on the journey of parenthood. Steve was the loving father of three children, who have each leaned on him as their wise and trusted counsellor throughout their lives. He spent many evenings with his boys playing hockey in the basement and many sunny afternoons playing soccer in the green space behind the house. Most weeknights involved driving their children to the arena, the baseball diamond or the soccer pitch. He was an avid fan of camcorders and cameras, and he captured many moments of childhood and family memories for us.
The one thing he could not involve his children in was his precision lawn mowing - they were never quite up to par! In the last year, as his health declined, we were reminded to truly appreciate each moment together, and in this last year he was able to see his youngest son marry his sweetheart, and meet his fifth grandchild.
After his retirement in 2014, he and his wife were able to fulfill a long awaited dream to move outside of the city, and build a home on an acreage in the Foothills. Together, Steve and Francie began beautifying their property with gardens, growing and selling garlic at local farmers markets, and both enjoyed watching for the various wildlife that visited, especially the moose.
Along with these endeavours, he also was kept busy by his five adoring grandchildren. He held the cherished title of “Dubba” to them, and was always keen to entertain them with races, wrestling and even the occasional somersault! He has left them with so many beautiful memories and is also responsible for their introduction to “The Three Stooges”, a steady supply of BB’s for their Daisy Red Riders, and for their love of wearing mismatched socks.
For over 42 years of marriage Steve and Francie shared victories, challenges, laughter, joy and tears, and together built a home and family that was full of love, and a haven for their children and grandchildren.
Steve shared with us the gift of his humour, his wisdom, his experiences, and most notable of all, our beloved husband, father, Dubba, son and brother, has left us a heritage of faith in God, courage in the face of troubles and an example of showing care and compassion to those around him.
Steve was preceded in death by his mother, Norma, and leaves to cherish his memory, his father, Donald Whitely; wife, Francie; children, Benjamin Whitely, Reagan (James) Ellis and Luke (Keira) Whitely; grandchildren, Jack, Frank, Kate, Henry and Rex Ellis; siblings, Sandy (Manfred) Arndt, Paul (Lorrie} Whitely, Jim (Lynne) Whitely, Margaret (Stan) Klapak; and a large extended family of uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews and nieces
We will all sorely miss his warm, gentle and kind nature, and are grateful to have loved, and been loved by such a wonderful man.
A private family graveside service will be held on Thursday, April 20, 2023 at the Claresholm Cemetery in Claresholm, Alberta, with a memorial celebration planned for a later date.
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