1935 – 2023
Dolores left us on Wednesday, May 10th, 2023, a date marking the culmination of a journey which commenced on Monday, July 22nd, 1935. But what of the intervening years? She had been the third child of six born to Bruno and Helen (nee Rybka) Zbesheski, he from Poland, she from Hafford. An immediate favourite, she was called by her father Lala – little doll. The family had settled in Prince Albert’s east flat. One early residence had a backyard large enough to accommodate a garden, barn, calf and chickens. The calf evolved into a piano for sister Irene, Dolores got violin lessons. School lessons were at Connaught to grade eight then at P. A. C. I. There she would meet her future husband, Llew Bell.
Her first job, post-graduation, was with the Royal Bank. Then came marriage. She and Llew moved to Wild Rose, north of Holbein, where he had a teaching position. They lived in a teacherage and became active community members. Curling was a favourite sport, one which she would later enjoy watching on television in her advanced years. Music became a big part of her spare time. She had taken up the double bass, with a much more positive outcome than the childhood violin lessons. Little did she know then that she would sing and play with a dance band called The Cottonpickers for the next fifty-two years.
1964 was a momentous year. The family had acquired Johnson’s Beach on Christopher Lake, complete with store. Not only was there the store to run, work was underway on a licensed dining room, the Flame Room, which would later expand to The Big Dipper. She and Llew lived in a cabin overlooking the beach, which would also become home to Darius, born 1968, Jan, born 1971, and Tanya, born 1973. All the while she could cook in the Flame Room and Dipper, whilst taking a break from culinary duties to play on-site with the band. At the lake, Dolores was happier knitting than fishing. Raw wool was in evidence in all her houses. Siwashes, toques and mitts were staples of her personal production line.
Eventually it became time to leave Bells Beach, as it was now called, and move closer to Prince Albert. Spruce Home was closer, and she worked at the Forest Nursery for a time before finally making it to the city. There she found employment with the Post Office, a part time position which she maintained up until retirement. By then she and Llew had settled on a small acreage south west of Prince Albert, just off Highway Eleven. It would prove to be their final shared home. Llew would take his last curtain call in February, 2004, leaving her a widow for the subsequent eighteen years. She moved to Southwood Estates gated community in 2015, No.1 in address, No. 1 in the hearts of family and friends. She volunteered at the Rawlinson Centre and joined a bowling league. Her team rejected Gutter Girls as a name. At home she happily spent time keeping up with the fortunes of her expanding family, with her plants, her baking, her knitting, her crosswords, scrabble, and card playing. The latter a regular competition with her sister-in-law and longtime best friend, Bev Stewart.
Planting a garden had been a regular practice in her life, and this continued on Jim and sister Bronia’s farm. Berry-picking had also been a regular practice with blueberries, saskatoons and choke cherries in greatest danger - Dolores was a whirlwind picker. Her faithful stand-up double bass was in the basement, beside a piano for the much-loved sing songs, which she particularly enjoyed at Christmas. Although Zosia, a popular Polish number, would insinuate itself into the more traditional renditions.
Dolores endured several traumatic happenings during her life which she overcame through resilience and strength of character. This indomitable spirit was never more in evidence than during her last few months.
Dolores is survived by son Darius (Holly), son Jan (Melanie), grandsons Tyler and Ian, daughter Tanya Idler (Jason), and grandsons Nathan and Tyson.
She is also survived by her five siblings Henry Zbesheski (Bobby), Irene Stubbs, Bronia Watt (Jim), Janie Charbonneau, and Brian Zbesheski (Evelyn).
Interment will be held at Prince Albert Memorial Gardens for family and close friends on Friday, May 26, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.
A Celebration of Dolores’ life will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 26, 2023 at Plaza 88, 888 Central Avenue, Prince Albert, SK. Elevators located at front doors, Central Avenue entrance.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the care of Gray’s Funeral Chapel, (306) 922-4729, Paula Hanson, Funeral Director and Mary MacWilliams.