Beryl Holtam
Beryl Holtam
Beryl Holtam
Beryl Holtam

Obituary of Beryl Wood Holtam

 May 10th, 1956 to May 19th, 2024

On Sunday, May 19th, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Beryl, following her courageous struggle with a rare form of cancer.

Beryl was the much-loved second daughter of Harold (d. 2021) and Shirley (d. 1989) Holtam. She leaves behind her husband, Alan Cook; her sons, Ben, and Brandon and his family; her siblings: Brier (Terry) Colburn, Blair (Chuck Walker) Holtam, Brenda (Phil) Turcotte, Bryan (Annie) Holtam, and all their children, to whom she was a beloved Aunt. She loved her step-children and her British in-law families, too.

Beryl grew up in the north end of St Catharines, an idyllic place back then, close to the shores of Lake Ontario and surrounded by fruit farms, friendly neighbours and nearby family. Grace Anglican Church and Girl Guides were important influences for community involvement and for spiritual and moral development. Her faith became increasingly important and influenced everything she did.

Beryl delighted in her educational experiences: the new, open-concept Gov. Simcoe High School; her B.A. in Family Studies from Guelph (1979); a diploma in educational, pastoral and social ministry from the Centre for Christian Studies in Toronto (1986); a B.Ed from Western in 1993, and an M.Ed from Brock in 2010. Her thesis on conscience formation was published in 2012. She never taught formally, but said “I always saw my self as an educator”, helping people to think, learn and discover together in community.

Beryl had several professional lives. Working for Gayle Prodger in a fashion shop taught her to be an entrepreneur; working for the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Niagara’s burgeoning Youth Ministry department brought out her creativity and passion for making the Church relevant and meaningful; her social service career (Children’s and Family Services, the Autism Initiative, and the Roxburgh Seniors Community in Hamilton) developed her practical and positive compassion. In retirement, ‘Sew on the Go’ – repairing the clothing of residents in local Seniors’ homes – was a delightful gig, as was gardening for several condominium communities in Guelph.

Perhaps Beryl’s greatest vocation was to motherhood. She loved her boys, and delighted in seeing them grow into fine young men. Yes, there were challenges, but she was at peace when she died. That Ben has become so independent, so capable, and is now ready to move forward, filled her comfort and pride.

Beryl wanted these words of Bishop John Spong for her epitaph: “If God is the source of all life, then live fully; if God is the source of love, then love wastefully; if God is the ground of all being, then be all you can be... Nobody else can offer what you have to offer, and the only way you can worship God is by daring to be all that you can be, and not be bound by the fears of yesterday.”

Beryl’s aquamated remains will be present for the service at 1.30 p.m. in the Church of the Apostles, 86 Glasgow Street N, Guelph, on Saturday, June 1st. Visitation is from 11.30 a.m.; a reception will follow. All Beryl’s family and friends are welcome! Parking is limited, so please consider parking off site if you have no mobility problems; there’s no air-conditioning, but water will be served; and the church is not huge! But if that doesn’t put you off, please join us for hymns, tributes, prayers and great music, and to say goodbye to our beloved Beryl!

A livestream of the funeral will come via the Church’s website by CLICKING HERE. Technical assistance will not be made available.

Gifts in memory of Beryl can be made to the Anglican relief fund, PWRDF via the Donations tab on her home page.

Please share a memory, photo or sentiment of Beryl's life here at her memorial lecacy page.

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Portrait credit to Penny Faux

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