MINDEMOYA—Central Manitoulin Mayor Gerry Strong and Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) CEO Derek Graham caused some looks of surprise when they entered the board room of the Mindemoya hospital on October 15 and interrupted a meeting of auxiliary members. Mayor Strong was there to present a Citizen of the Year plaque to Leila Thureson of Mindemoya, a dedicated volunteer.
Ms. Thureson was born on the Island and spent her first five years in Green Bay before moving to Mindemoya. She started teaching in 1956 when she was just short of the age of 18 in a rural schoolhouse that housed all eight grades, which was perhaps a little unsettling as some of the students would be close to her age.
Ms. Thureson taught for five years and then supply taught as she followed her military husband Peter to such places as Germany and New Brunswick as well as Ontario. She had received her degree from the teachers college in Toronto and has also taught in Sudbury.
The Thuresons moved back to Mindemoya in 1987 and, as she said, “saw big changes here in the village.” She also went on to work in home care in the office and part of her duties were to oversee the workers. “It was a fun job. You got to see different clients. The older people have a lot to tell you and it was fun,” she explained.
Ms. Thureson has been heavily involved as a volunteer over the years. She has worked with the Mindemoya hospital auxiliary for nine years and has held the positions of vice president and president in that role and does odd jobs such as fundraising and typing up the bulletin in her position as a general treasurer for the United Church. She has done volunteer work for the Heart and Stroke and Canadian Cancer Societies by canvassing door to door. “And you get to know more people that way,” she remarked. Ms. Thureson also serves as secretary-treasurer for the United Church Women (UCW), who meet once a month.
Ms. Thureson’s family attended the surprise award meeting including her husband Peter, her nephew Evan Bayer and his parents Lorraine and Harley Bayer.
Mayor Strong and Mr. Graham both expressed their admiration for Ms. Thureson and all the work she does for and in her community. A citizen of the year indeed.