A Gracious, Loving, Kind Lady

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Eva Marion Bradley was born at home on the family homestead farm at White Fox near Nipawin, Saskatchewan on August 2, 1925.  She was the second child of the six children of Clarence Samuel Bradley and Ellen Jane Ormiston.  Her father’s people were Irish and had lived in Canada for about five generations.  Her mother’s people were Scots and grandpa Ormiston was a contractor with the Canadian Pacific Railway hauling materials and goods using wagons and ox teams during the construction of the railway along the route from Brandon, Manitoba to Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan in the early 1880’s.  Both families settled in southern Saskatchewan.


 Eva - far right  ^


Her father moved the family to the small community of Clayton, near Langley in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia at the height of the Great Depression in 1930.  Work was scarce during these hard times and Clarence worked at various jobs to provide for the family, principally at various tasks for the Municipality of Surrey.  Eva and her brothers and sisters attended elementary school at Clayton and Cloverdale and went on to high school at Queen Elizabeth in Surrey.  The family enjoyed many friends in the Clayton community.  They attended the local United Church where Eva taught Sunday school for a short period.


Along with her brothers and sisters, Eva grew in an environment of family love and acceptance.   As were many folks living close to poverty in that era, Eva’s family were very adept at “making do” on their small farm growing vegetables and husbanding cattle, pigs and chickens for family consumption.  Ellen (aka Nellie) taught her daughters the important skills of homemaking in cooking, canning, preserving, sewing, knitting, embroidering, crocheting and tatting.   Her father trained his sons how to use and care for the horses, and to log, plough, carpenter, plumb, shoe repair, cut hair and all the other skills needed for the times in which they lived.  Helping one’s neighbors, especially the nearby widows and widowers was a prime duty for the Bradley family.


Eva was a lovely woman with very beautiful eyes and a most engaging smile.  She loved people and they seemed instinctively to be attracted to her.  Always friendly and open, she had an uncanny way of making people feel “at ease”.  Eva conversed in a happy and engaging manner.  Her mother held a special place in her heart.  Her father and siblings were very precious to her.  She especially loved children who, in turn, loved being with her.  Her nieces and nephews adored her and she never forgot little gifts for them during the important events of their young lives. She lived her life trusting and loving God and her neighbor. 


Eva got her first job as a telephone operator in Vancouver in 1943.  She found living away from home lonely at first and room and board limited her privacy.  Working various day, evening and night shifts as a telephone operator was strange and demanding, particularly traveling alone on electric street cars across town to the various telephone exchanges.  Getting home to Clayton to be with her folks on her days off was always a priority.  She generously helped her father purchase lumber and materials to build large chicken coops when he ventured into the 'egg' marketing business.


It was not long before her warm personality gathered friends who remained close to her for the remainder of her life.  They called themselves “The Wednesday Night Girls” who found many hobbies to engage in and many charities to work for over the next 40 odd years.  Around 1949 she transferred to the telephone traffic engineers department in downtown Vancouver where she spent a few years assigning telephone numbers and connections for telephone subscribers.  Again she attracted more new friends and met her future husband Farrell Hopwood. They met at a Telephone Pioneers picnic in July 1952.   He loved her beauty, her charm, her sense of humor and  her gift of making him feel very special.  Her love for people shone through everything she said and did.  Farrell worked in telephone Plant operations in the exchange offices at that time.  Farrell’s family was of Anglo/Irish background living in Vancouver since 1910.


Eva and Farrell married at St Augustine’s RC church on February 12, 1955.  They honeymooned to California.   


Eva left her job at the telephone company shortly thereafter.  As with most newlyweds, acquiring the things that make a home special took on project status over the next few years.  After living in a few house suites and apartments.  Eva and Farrell acquired a new home in east Vancouver where they resided for the next three years.  Their son David was born on August 1, 1956, one day before Eva’s own birthday.  David was the light of her life.  She doted on him and, as mothers do, she worried and cared for him through the various illnesses children experience during the early years. They were and are deeply bonded to each other in love!  This brought great happiness to the couple and, of course, life’s meaning and growth took on new hopes and dreams.

                                            Eva-Farrell-Mona-Aunt Mary(1955)----->

Eva loved a nice home and nice things for the home and was always happy when she could host a dinner or a family get-together.  She loved entertaining.  China, silverware, figurines, paintings and fine furniture were items of special beauty and utility.  She also enjoyed volunteering as an auxiliary helper at several hospitals and aiding the ladies groups at the family church.  In later years she supported the Catholic Women’s League, spending her time “in the kitchen” were she displayed her excellent cooking and baking skills.  She loved working  for and at community type events, and most especially engaging in conversation with friends and strangers alike.


Farrell’s management career expanded over the years and the family moved from an apartment in south Vancouver to Powell River during a major expansion of the paper mill at that important coastal town in 1965.  Eva made many new friends, however she did miss the big city and found the isolation somewhat limited her choices and opportunities.  Farrell was moved to New Westminster in late1966 and back to Vancouver to coordinate the installation of a new long distance switching network in 1967.   They decided that it was time to settle down in one place as the frequent moves were forcing young David to adjust too often.  The family moved to the Lynn Valley area of North Vancouver in 1968 and remained there for over 35 years.


The middle years of Eva’s life were a time of maturity and happiness especially as she watched David grow into a very fine young man.  At that time she decided she wanted a part-time job and began a 13 year career as a switchboard operator for Woodward Stores at Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver.  Again Eva made many wonderful friends through her employment.  Working for a large department store chain also offered many opportunities to acquire china and clothes and nick-naks for the home, for birthdays, for weddings and Christmas. 


She became interested in travel and thus began a period of close to sixteen years of holiday trips to Britain, Europe and Hawaii.  Britain fascinated Eva and she managed to holiday there six times during this period.  Visiting the castles, cathedrals, shops, and acquiring various souvenirs of times past, and searching for gifts for her family and friends became wonderful enchanting excursions for her.  As always she met many new travel friends and English relatives with whom she carried on a regular correspondence.


In 1980 Eva and Farrell attended two short extra-mural courses: one on Tudor History at Cambridge University; the other on Welsh History at the University of North Wales at Bangor.  She thrilled at meeting the Dons and visiting towns and villages in East Anglia to learn about the Tudor architecture, music, literature, art and culture.  She enjoyed learning all about Wales and the life of the people and the culture and ways of the ancient Celts.  She loved reading and the English biographies, novels and romances were her favorites.  


Unfortunately, by the mid 1980’s Eva’s health began to slowly deteriorate.  First a cancerous kidney had to be removed in 1985.  Her body suffered from serious arthritis and both hips were replaced several times between 1986 and 1994.  Eva also experienced a heart beat irregularity and a heart valve problem.  Then, in the late 1990’s she developed symptoms of “Alzheimer’s” disease with loss of memory and increased inability to be able to function normally in many aspects of her routine life.   In May 2002, after years of care-giving, Farrell could no longer cope and arranged to have her placed in the “Special Care Unit” at the local Kiwanis Care Centre.  Eva never seemed to accept this change.  She gradually lost her ability to eat and suffered serious loss of weight.  She rarely spoke except in frustration and in a little anger.  By late October 2002 the staff and the family knew it was just a matter of time before her life would be in serious danger.


Farrell and David were at her side when she died in the early hours of November 23, 2002.   A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated at St Stephen’s RC Church in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver.  The church was full and overflowed with family and friends.  Farrell gave a eulogy of love and kindness and ended with:  “Eva lovingly gave of self to God, her family and her neighbor --- she was most loving, most kind and most generous --- We will miss her terribly, but I am happy for her because I know she is with God for all eternity”.