Rea Josephson

April 16, 1930 - October 28, 2018

REA MILTON JOSEPHSON

It is with profound sadness that the Josephson family announces the passing of Rea Milton Josephson, in his 89th year, on Sunday, October 28, 2018. Rea died peacefully, surrounded by family and with his beloved Lillian at his side. He will be remembered as a kind and gentle husband, father, “poppa”, “great-poppa”, uncle, and friend.

 

Rea’s life is forever cherished in the hearts of his wife, Lillian; his sister, Helen (Jim); his children, Wendy (Bob), Kathie (Gary) and Jaik (Brent); four treasured grandchildren, Amelia (Kristjan), Chris (Emma), Erin (Tim) and Justine; two great-grandchildren, Solmundur and Abigail; and a host of devoted cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

 

Rea, son of the late Jake and Louise Josephson was born on April 16, 1930 in the old Josephson farmhouse, in the Bardal district northwest of Sinclair, Manitoba.  As Louise died from tuberculosis when Rea was just eight years old, his childhood straddled the care provided on the Josephson farm and various dedicated aunts and uncles. He described this arrangement as having provided “the unique experience of being able to observe and feel the love of all of these wonderful families.” He would go on to attend school in Sinclair, Bardal, Alida, and Virden. It was at Virden Collegiate Institute, at age 16, that Rea met and fell in love with Lillian Rosnoski. They married four years later and would go on to share a deep and lasting devotion that has been an inspiration to all who knew them. They would have celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary on November 22nd of this year. 

 

As newlyweds, Lil and Rea became a part of the Josephson brothers’ farming enterprise. They remembered this period as a busy and happy time surrounded by friends and family. Rea was deeply passionate about farming, parenting, curling and baseball. He prized the chance to be a catcher on the Sinclair baseball team and would continue over the course of his life to regale us with stories from this time. 12 years and three children later, Rea and Lil made a difficult decision to pursue new opportunities. The family relocated to Brandon, Manitoba where Rea enrolled in teacher’s college. He taught junior high school for one year before moving to Winnipeg where he would attain a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics. Rea assumed various roles as an agrologist that had him working in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Regina. In the last 15 years of his career, Rea was an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Manitoba.

 

The family cottage on Sandpiper Road near St. Laurent became a special backdrop for Rea’s retirement years. He loved to enjoy extended breakfasts on the deck, putter and listen to the song of prairie birds. Sandpiper became a place for visits with friends and family. This was a time of reflection where Rea would go on to write ‘The Dogs in my Life,’ (co-written with his granddaughter, Justine), ‘A Grandparent’s Journal’ (co-written with Lil) and ‘The Life and Times of RMJ: A Memoir by Rea Milton Josephson.’ In later years of his life, Rea took the opportunity to travel but remained especially tied to the comforts of home. He lived with a visual impairment for the last 12 years of his life. His acceptance of this loss was a lesson in courage and adaptability for us all. Although he had to give up driving and many other things he loved, he and Lil continued to live a rich and happy life together, including years of more travel, golf at St. Laurent, and walking on the Canada Trail. He spent countless hours enjoying Lil’s generous reading aloud from the newspaper and his favourite books. Though long settled in Winnipeg, to the end, Rea loved an audience for his stories about baseball and the farming community of Sinclair. Lil would frequently deliberate on her first encounter with Rea when as a teenager she wondered just where such a good person comes from. Over his last difficult weeks, she frequently declared that “Rea was a fine and beautiful person right to the end. That never changed.”

 

The Josephson family is grateful for the compassionate care offered by Dr. Brian Sharkey and the staff at the Victoria General Hospital.

 

A private family gathering will be held to honour our dear Rea. A larger celebration of a well-lived life will follow at a later date. An announcement will be made when a date and location have been determined.

 

In gratitude, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, a memorial donation be made to Play for Peace (www.playforpeace.org/donate) or alternatively, The Agriculture Degree Class of 1968 Memorial Bursary, University of Manitoba, 200-137 Innovation Drive, Winnipeg, R3T 6B6.

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