Arlette Maxine was born to Nels and Violet Johnson of Norquay, Saskatchewan on October 14, 1938. Arlette was the eighth child in a family of eleven children.
At the young age of two, a rare bone disease called osteomyelitis reared it’s ugly head. This meant being away from her family and the farm. Arlette stayed with her Grandma Emma to be close to the train, in order to attend the hospital in Kamsack, Saskatchewan. Back then, there were no antibiotics or medicine to treat her ailment and as a result, she lost two fingers and lived with a massive scar on her right leg. Luckily this disease only flared up on occasion. The last time it plagued her was in the 70’s and of course, medicine was now available.
As a youngster, Arlette was a true farm girl, and she loved being in the 4H Club. With a big family there was always lots of cooking and cleaning to do, as well as looking after her younger siblings.
School life was only to Grade 8. As a young lady, Arlette ventured out to a farm to assist her older sister ‘Ollie’, who had a large family that included three sets of twins. The nearby town was Colonsay, Saskatchewan. In addition to helping her sister Ollie, Arlette held down a job at the local grocery store, owned and operated by the Murray’s.
It was while staying with Jim and Ollie that Arlette met her future husband, Gerald Cranch. They dated for three years, married on August 2nd, 1958 at Elstow, Saskatchewan and honeymooned where the Cranch’s loved best ….Waskesiu.
A year later their family began, a daughter and three sons. Colonsay would be their home until November 1963. Gerald was offered a position of ‘mechanic’ at Mills Motors in Nipawin, Saskatchewan and they made the difficult decision to leave family and friends, however it was the best decision they made.
Unfortunately Arlette had some health issues; therefore she became a devoted wife and mother, having the cleanest home around. The hardwood floors were polished every Friday and there was always the smell of fresh bread or buns baking. Arlette knew exactly how to make white socks ‘white’ and she planted and maintained a beautiful garden each year. She made the best dill pickles and borscht, and her rhubarb pie was nothing short of amazing. Really there wasn’t anything she couldn’t make taste good.
Arlette and Gerald had a variety of friends that they visited and coffee was always on. Even though she wasn’t big into playing cards, there was many a card game going on. When the family would come to visit, she always fretted about her house and what she would cook. Despite her fears, there was always plenty of food and she never let anyone down.
Arlette was very close to her sister Alleen. Alleen would come to visit and help out in any way she could. So many times she would say to Alleen, “You always come to my rescue”!
In the early 70’s a change was made to live on a farm. Arlette often referred to that period as the happiest and best times. There was just one slight problem with living three miles east of Codette, she couldn’t drive, therefore in her early thirties, Arlette obtained her driver’s license.
While being on the farm, a neighbor boy “Al Street” would always come a calling once the school bus dropped him off. Al soon started referring to Arlette and Gerald as “Ma & Pa”. Al was very much a part of the family, and was considered another son. In the mid 70’s with her children now in school, Arlette decided to go back to work. She was a housekeeper at the Tobin Lake Motel in Nipawin, owned by the Korpach’s. A new hotel was being built in Nipawin and Arlette was hired by the Dion family as the ‘Head Housekeeper’ in 1981 for the Kingfisher Inn. At the age of 65, and after 22 years of services, she chose retirement in 2003. Her boss Jim Chute presented her with gifts, one of which was a gold watch, a watch she wore to present day. When the battery died, we all heard about it, she couldn’t be without that watch. Arlette was loved by the hotel guests, the staff working for her, as well as the staff in the other departments. It was here, she met and maintained long friendships with June McLean, Carol Patton, Ruth Kiehn and Marlon Simons.
In 1981 grandchildren started arriving and Arlette was a devoted and very much loved Gramma. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her grandsons. Her boys were always there for her and that continued to present date. On August 30, 2012, her grandson Shawn called with exciting news, he and his wife had just had a baby girl, they named her “Maci Arlette”. Arlette was so thrilled and honoured and often said that she never imagined that anyone would carry on her name.
Sunday was always family day for the Cranch’s. In the early times during the summer, a picnic was packed and the family would pile into the station wagon, always stopping at a different lake. In the fall, Sunday was the day to get wood, and there was always a delicious supper that followed. As life changes, the Sunday tradition would not always take place and Arlette would then say. “Well that was a boring Sunday”.
On November 23, 2012 Arlette’s beloved husband Gerald passed away, and she did not handle being alone well. Her son Rod and his wife Terry along with their two boys Sheldon and Shawn and their spouses tried their best to comfort her and provide her with day to day needs. Her daughter Shelley, living in The Pas, Manitoba at the time, also did whatever she could by having her Mom come and live with her on and off throughout the year. It was while Arlette was in The Pas, Manitoba that she met and became friends with Shelley’s neighbors and friends, Linda & Marvin Allan and John & Marielle Lewicki, they were wonderful to her.
The great grandchildren said that Gram had nine lives, as she gave us many a scare over the years. The first one was four months after her husband’s passing when she was diagnosed with COPD and tested borderline with her oxygen. In 2015 due to a lack of oxygen she had two separate falls, both requiring surgery. It was at this time her daughter Shelly decided it was best to retire from her job in The Pas, Manitoba and move back home to become her Mother’s primary care giver. For two and a half years, Arlette’s family took precautions to avoid her contracting COVID, but unfortunately on March 27, 2022 she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and she was in contact with COVID. After that it seemed like one thing led to another….two separate falls on her left side resulted in damage to her 2015 hip surgery and her mobility was lost. On May 3, 2022 she became a resident of Pineview Lodge in Nipawin and she was so grateful her grandson Sheldon was able to be home and visiting with her during this time. Before COVID happened, and everything in the world seemed to change, Arlette was getting to know a special young lady by the name of Melanie. They enjoyed their visits together so much.
Arlette was predeceased by her husband Gerald, her beloved son Rod, her parents, Nels & Violet Johnson, and her siblings: Elda, Bud, Ollie, Lloyd, Marvin, Maureen, Wally, Gaye and Linda.
We understand you had to go Mom and your pain is no longer. You will never be forgotten and you will forever be in our memories. Know that you were loved so much.
Love always, your daughter Shelley; grandson Sheldon (Christina), Brayden, (Courtney), Mika, MacKenzie, Tristen & Chloe; grandson Shawn (Melissa) Kieran and Macie; daughter in law Terry; surviving sister Alleen (Lloyd) Smith; sister in law Joyce Johnson; Al and Tammy Street; numerous nieces and nephews and her special friends Melanie and Dave & Penny Cisecki.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Saskatchewan Transplant Program, in honor of her son Rod, who was a hero to five unknown recipients of his organs when he passed.