Eunice Marion (Milne) Bisset died at Maitland Manor, in Goderich, Ontario, on November 7, 2023 at the age of 95.
Eunice was born on July 16, 1928, in Brandon, Manitoba, the youngest daughter and second-youngest child of James Brown Milne and Lillias Burns (Robertson) Milne. The family moved to Goderich when Eunice was four, when her father was appointed as the head miller of the Western Canada (later Purity) flour mill there. Eunice attended Central Public School (now the Huron County Pioneer Museum) and the Goderich Collegiate Institute. She studied piano at St Joseph’s Convent, and earned the Associate Diploma of the Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT). She taught piano in Goderich while also working as a secretary for the Goderich Salt Company.
Eunice’s family was active at Knox Presbyterian Church in Goderich, and it was there that she met Robert Bisset, whose family owned and operated the Bisset Brothers – Saltford Heights Creamery outside town. Eunice and Robert were married in July 1952, and moved to Montreal, where Robert was a student at The Presbyterian College. Eunice continued to work for Goderich Salt at its Montreal offices until the couple’s first child was born.
Eunice followed and supported Robert throughout his work as a minister of The Presbyterian Church in Canada. They lived in manses in St Andrew’s East, Quebec, Three Hills, Alberta, Avonton, Ontario, and Forest, Ontario. Eunice taught piano in Three Hills, assisted the congregational organist in Avonton, and served for a time as organist and choir director at the church in Forest. While in Forest, Eunice also volunteered as a tutor in a day program for adults with developmental disabilities.
Robert retired in 1986, and he and Eunice returned to the Goderich area, living on a piece of family property that had been their summer home since the mid 1960s. Eunice helped to care for Robert’s aging parents, and frequently played the organ in Presbyterian churches where Robert was supply preaching. She then took on a more permanent role as the organist at Trinity Anglican Church in Bayfield.
Robert’s death in 1991 led Eunice to rediscover parts of her life that she had left behind. She got her driver’s license and became much more independent. She continued to play at the church in Bayfield until the winter driving became too much for her, and then took a position as organist and choir director at First Baptist Church in Goderich. She continued to be active at Knox Presbyterian in Goderich, and especially in the Women’s Missionary Society (WMS). She served as a member of the national Council of the WMS, and in this role travelled to Japan to meet with members of the Korean Presbyterian Church in Japan. Eunice played the piano faithfully for church services, monthly birthday parties, and other gatherings at retirement homes and long-term care facilities in both Goderich and Clinton. She also enjoyed travelling to spend time with family in Toronto, Thunder Bay, and Calgary, and took trips to Hawaii and Scotland. She developed an interest in baseball, and loved watching her beloved Blue Jays on TV. During the winter months she watched curling.
Eunice enjoyed good health throughout much of her life, but in her later years she suffered from the effects of arthritis. A fall in the summer of 2020, combined with the arthritis, took away much of her mobility, and in her final years she was frequently disoriented and confused.
Gratitude for the care and love shown to Eunice during her final years is due to her daughter Mary Jane, who put her own life completely on hold for over three years to care for her mother; to her daughter Sandra; to the nursing and PSW staff of One Care Home and Community Support Services; to Ken Sheardown; and to the staff of Maitland Manor. Thanks are also extended to those friends who so faithfully kept in touch with her. Their cards and other expressions of thoughtfulness meant the world to Eunice.
Eunice was predeceased by her husband, as well as by her parents, her three sisters (Ann, Lil, and Irene), and her two brothers (Sandy and Brown). She is survived by her seven children (Janet [Racey], Mary Jane, Bob, Sandra [Scully], Margot [Greenwood], Peter, and Alex), by her 16 grandchildren, and by 15 great-grandchildren. She is lovingly remembered by her many nieces and nephews and their families, and especially by her niece Janet (Brent) and her nephew Don (Matthews).
Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held at a later date. As expressions of sympathy, donations may be made to Knox Presbyterian Church, Goderich, or a charity of your choice.