Gloria Mary (Hanke) Durban

Gloria was born on a beautiful spring day in April 1926. She was the youngest of 5 siblings born to Gea and Henry Hanke of Kenmare, North Dakota.

Her father and older brother Earl worked in a coal mine. Earl had the unfortunate job of removing the supporting timbers from unused mine shafts with a pickaxe so they could be re-used in newer shafts. It was a job with a low-life expectancy, and when the family saw an advertisement in the local paper, offering free land near Vanderhoof, BC, Henry and Gea loaded up two Model T automobiles with their belongings and their five children: Earl, Hazel, Mabel, Hilda and 5 year old Gloria, and they began a month long journey toward a new life.

They found their way to the south side of Francois Lake, near Molice Lake. Gloria helped her dad Henry with the mink farm; she helped raise and milk goats; and she helped her dad split and pile wood. Gloria attended a one-room schoolhouse at Uncha Valley that was a long two-mile walk from home each day.

Her life changed after she attended a dance at the Francois Lake Hall. Clarence Durban was at that dance, and when he tells the story it starts with: “I saw a red-headed girl and I fell in love” This was the beginning of a 5 year courtship and a 66 year marriage. They were married on June 18th, 1949.

Mom was a logger’s wife, a hunter’s wife, and a shopkeeper’s wife. They owned and operated the Grassy Plains store, and when dad was away, Mom ran the store. She grew our food in a large organic garden, before organic gardening was cool. We ate fiddleheads, young thistle plants, and young dandelion greens in the spring without photos being posted to Instagram. She was a hard-core recycler before recycling was cool. Debbie wore dresses made from flour sacks, egg cartons became stools, worn out clothes were used to patch other clothes, or turned into aprons, potholders and finally torn into rags. She grew, loved and photographed flowers at every opportunity. She made the very best cinnamon buns, sugar cookies, and angel food cake with money inside for birthdays.

She loved her grandchildren with her whole heart. She loved nothing better to play with them, and to cook with them. She never missed a birthday party, or a school Christmas concert, or a graduation.

She lived with dementia for the past 7-9 years, and although her world slowly got smaller she was content to live by dad’s side, ever happy to see her family, and showed a love and curiousity for the world right until the end.

She is survived by her loving husband Clarence Durban, who held her hand and sang to her during her final days; her children Gordon (Kim) Durban, Debbie (Brian) Marsh and Barb (Blair) Wilson; her grandchildren (Charlotte, Cory, Jillian, Caitlynn, Avery, Marlee, Richard, Jennifer); and great-grandchildren. She is predeceased by all of her siblings (Earl Hanke, Hazel Funnell, Mabel Tetreau, and Hilda McPhail) her son Sandy, and great grand-daughter Jada.


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