May 12, 1939 – March 16, 2022
Born May 12th, 1939, in Duchess, Alberta, Cathryn Leona Brecka passed away on March 16th, 2022 at Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert; surrounded by family sharing photos, stories, laughter, prayers, music, tears, and love.
When Cathryn was a child, the Sparks family lived in several places in South and Central Alberta and eventually settled in the Poplar Ridge area. Cathryn Sparks graduated from Lindsay Thurber High School in Red Deer, where she won the Governor General’s Award for highest academic standing. She attended the Normal School of the University of Alberta for two years, returning to Red Deer County to teach at Innisfail Jr./Sr. High School.
Miss Sparks coached the cheerleading squad at Innisfail, and when the basketball coach asked her out to a movie (“The Blob”), that was the beginning of our family. Cathryn married coach Vladimir Brecka on July 16, 1960, at the Innisfail United Church. Shortly after they married, Mom and Dad moved to Delburne, and along came Roger Dean (1961), and then Brian John (1964). In 1966 they moved to Wetaskiwin, and a few years later Diana Joan (1970) was born.
Over the years, Cathryn took many courses from the University of Alberta. Mostly in the evenings, summer sessions, and a one year sabbatical in order to complete both a Bachelor of Education degree, and a Bachelor of Arts degree (Art History). During those trips she took her eldest son out for the occasional supper (at Mr. Mike’s) as he was also in Edmonton completing his first degree.
Cathryn had a love for fine arts of all types: music, painting, sculpture, sketching, costumes, journaling, theatre, gardening, spoken word, etc. She played the violin, mandolin, and ukulele, and loved to sing, especially in a choir. She encouraged (forced?) her children to take music and theory lessons, as well as play instruments in school, and beyond.
Many people knew Mom as an artist and as a member of the Wetaskiwin Art Club and the Provincial Arts Council, with many of her works being displayed at local and provincial art shows. Her ongoing artistic endeavours included taking courses on location in Paris, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Denmark; as well as local spots like Donalda, Red Deer River, Gwynne, Battle River, and Drumheller, where her daughter was allowed to roam.
Even more people recognize Mom as “Mrs. Brecka”, a teacher. She spent many years teaching grade 6 at Parkdale Elementary School, and then as a travelling art teacher with her car, Emily. Later she moved to Queen Elizabeth Junior High, teaching mostly Language Arts, but was happy to share her passion for current events as well. When her boys were young, Mom volunteered at Lynn Lauren School, reading and sharing her joy of inclusive community and the learning process.
Mom and Dad ensured they always had valid passports, and took many flights, cruises, and road trips. Those trips often involved visiting family all over the globe, and attending every wedding of their nieces and nephews. Each destination included experiencing new cultures, food tasting, and local sights.
CLB volunteered in support of many cultural activities wherever she lived, including creating props, sets, and costumes for drama productions, sometimes playing in the orchestra, hosting dinners at the Memorial, and the Allied Arts and Crafts Council. Mom and Dad spent many hours at the Reynolds Alberta Museum, and supported many other charities in the community and province, but Plan Canada held a special place in Mom’s heart.
The “timing” of her written or spoken words and actions impacted and meant so much to so many students, the community, work colleagues, and other people throughout her life, artistic achievements, and profession. She was deeply connected to the sacredness of life, marking moments with hand written cards, following up with friends, and calling when she thought that care was needed. We have so much gratitude for our beloved Cathryn, who wove threads of beauty in all that she did.
Cathryn is survived by her loving husband, Vladimir Brecka; children, Roger Brecka, Brian Brecka, Diana Brecka (David Glass); grandson, Quinn Glass, sister, Teresa Taekema (Syd); brother, David Sparks (Violet); and many nieces and nephews. We share our sorrow with the members of the First United Church family, and the “Curves Girls”, who brought unlimited laughter and mischievousness to her life (often along with a sausage and egger).
An online funeral will be hosted by First United Church, Wetaskiwin, on Saturday, April 2, 2022, at 2:00 p.m, MST. Links to the service can be found at www.firstunitedwetaskiwin.ca. Donations may be made to the Wetaskiwin Public Library, Plan Canada, or the charity of one’s choice.
To honour Mom, please, feel free to stop at the side of a road and eat a sandwich, with the car door open. Paint a rock, and leave it somewhere for others to discover. Call a friend you miss. Wear a bit more “sparkle”. Send a handwritten card of thanks. Make a sock puppet. Read a poem out loud. Plant flowers. Bake. Dance. Knit….
Honoured to Serve the Brecka Family
Baker Funeral Chapel
780.352.2501 Or 888.752.2501
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