Grace Reay couldn’t have been more appropriately named.
“Grace truly was an ‘Amazing Grace’ and we will all miss her,” noted Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary president Joan Kerr.
A memorial service was held Saturday at the Chemainus United Church for Reay, who died Aug. 7 at the age of 93. She dedicated many years of service to the Auxiliary and the Thrift Shop, in particular.
Many Auxiliary members attended the service in their uniforms in honour of Reay. “There was a good turnout,” said Kerr.
A large family, a large group of United Church members, and a large Auxiliary contingent surrounded Reay, who kept incredibly active into her later years.
She was born in Raymore, Saskatchewan on Nov. 7, 1924 and moved to Chemainus with husband Richard in 1974. Her ties to the community were strong during that 44-year-period.
In 1992, Reay was recognized for her commitment to the Auxiliary with a 15-year pin and in 2007 was made a Life Member in honour of 30 years of service.
Reay received both a Golden Brush Community Award from the Chemainus & District Chamber of Commerce as Volunteer of the Year and the Auxiliary honoured her for dedicated volunteer service in the Thrift Shop in 2008.
Reay is predeceased by her husband Richard, six siblings and a grandchild, and lovingly remembered by her five children, their spouses, 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
Susan Beaubier spoke about Reay at the service on behalf of the 170 Auxiliary members.
“She was so respected and loved for her exceptional volunteer work, dedication and respect for others,” noted Beaubier. “Grace was a true role model and mentor for so many of us and played an important role in cementing the integrity of our organization. As so many have said, Grace never spoke badly of anyone and by no means has any auxilian spoken badly about her. Grace had a gift to problem solve without making waves. Her diplomacy, kindness and respect for others was so apparent.”
Reay joined the Auxiliary in February 1977 and became the Thrift Shop Convener in the early stages.
“She worked tirelessly to organize the reception, sorting, storing and displaying of almost everything that came into the shop,” Beaubier said.
Reay didn’t just volunteer during the daytime but also in the evening. She opened the shop on Thursday evenings for many years and had a core group of volunteers to help her with the mountains of items to be sorted, priced and placed.
Reay’s total volunteer service amounted to 41 years in the Auxiliary. “Her commitment and contribution is outstanding,” said Beaubier. “She provided leadership and excellent organizational skills along with her respectful way of considering others.”
Beaubier related the feelings of another volunteer about Reay: “I just feel she was a beautiful quiet presence in what could be a chaotic thrift shop warehouse. She was a true lady.“