ForeverMissed
Wife. Mother, Grandmother. Teacher. Friend.

When Mary Yanke slipped peacefully from this world late in the evening of Aug. 12, 2020, she left behind her a simple but enormous legacy.
Love.
It was the first word that came to mind for almost all who knew her. Well that, and pancakes.
“Grandma didn’t just say ‘I love you,’ she showed it with every ounce of her being,” said Samantha Sansome, one of Mary’s seven grandchildren. 
Samantha was not alone. Whether you called her Mary, or Mom, or Granny, Grandma or Gran Gran, there was never any doubt in your mind how she felt about you.
She was so fiercely proud of her three daughters, Patricia Rabson (John), Corrine Sansome (Dennis), and Susan Harrison (John); her grandchildren Lawrence Rabson, Mia Rabson Simons (Chad), Tracy Webber (Jonathan), Shelley Sansome (Mike Racz), Samantha Sansome (Dave Watson), Michael Rhys Harrison, and Alannah Harrison (Ben Del Greco); and her great-grandchildren James Dennis (JD), Tyler, Liam, Zahra, Owen, and Jacob. 
Her seven-decade friendship with her sister-in-law, Joan Cullen, brought both much joy.
Born in Beausejour, Man., Mary was the second of five children born to Douglas and Silvia Cullen. The only girl in a family of boys, her brothers David, Frank, Kit and Larry, gave her an early-life crash course in how to be tough.

The Yankes on the neighbouring farm, were her second family, and she would marry Daniel Yanke in 1947.

She loved to tell stories of her childhood on the farm and her early years at school in Beausejour and about bussing into Winnipeg to attend St. John's High School.

She spoke often about riding her bike between Beausejour and Winnipeg, sometimes grabbing on to the back of a passing truck to give her legs a rest until the driver would see her and she had to let go.

Mary had an easy and generous way of making sure everyone felt like they belonged, and many nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and neighbours also speak fondly of the impact she had on their lives.

She was a constant presence and support for her family and friends, and was there whenever any of her daughters or grandchildren took the stage.

She never missed one of Pat’s choir concerts, and was Women of Note’s biggest fan, always in the audience tapping her toes, and often even singing along.

Rhys remembers Grandma bringing her friends to the dinner theatre where he worked, even if he wasn’t performing, just to brag about him to anyone who would listen. She was thrilled to fly to New York to watch Lawrie perform on Broadway, and made sure everyone around her knew he was her grandson.

She dedicated much of her life to helping others. She and Daniel took in his brother, Willy, who had intellectual disabilities, and cared for him for most of his adult life. She fostered children who had no other safe home to go to, helped kids who needed an extra hand at school, and looked after her grandchildren and many neighbourhood kids.

She was in many ways, an early accidental feminist, instilling in her daughters the value and reward of hard work. She held many jobs, waitressing for many years at the Holiday Restaurant, working as a sales clerk at Eaton’s, a cashier at Safeway, and later in life as an educational assistant at Winnipeg schools, mostly helping children with disabilities.

She was an active member of the congregation at Westminster United Church for many decades. She volunteered to deliver Meals on Wheels and almost no federal or provincial election in Manitoba occurred without Mary volunteering at a polling station.

For all her grandchildren and great grandchildren who were lucky enough to enjoy them, weekends at Grandma’s house were filled with fun and activities. Sleeping in the big waterbed, early morning cartoons with sugar cereal, and of course, no weekend was ever complete without her brown-sugar roll-up pancakes.

This breakfast treat is now legend in our family.

She loved playing board games and video games. Rhys has fond memories playing cribbage with Grandma. Lawrie remembers staying up late with her on Saturday nights playing Pong on Grandma's Atari and eating candy ­– Mary’s sweet tooth was enormous. Gum drops, licorice all sorts, and peppermints were among her favourites.

Grandma also loved to take her grandkids on outings – to the movies (she always called it “the show”), the Shrine Circus, Ice Capades, bowling or out for dinner. She and Grandpa always made every grandchild feel special on their birthday with a solo dinner out at a restaurant of their choice, be it A&W or Dubrovniks. Every December for years brought a trip to Breakfast with Santa, every summer a visit to the Red River Ex.

She took others on excursions long before any grandkids came along however. Joan remembers Mary taking Joan and her brother to the roller rink when Joan was just 11. When boys would skate over to try and bedazzle Mary, she warded them off by instructing Joan and her brother to skate over and yell “hey Mom, watch this!”

The boys would run and Joan and Mary would howl with laughter.

She also loved to travel. She and Susan visited Europe one summer, and had many other wonderful trips together. Mary and Dan travelled all over Canada and the United States, most often by car or by train.

In the mid-1980s, she took the Sansome kids and the Rabson kids on separate trips to Edmonton to the West Edmonton Mall by train. One of Mia’s favourite memories is spending an entire afternoon with Granny almost to herself in the mall’s wave pool, laughing so hard at times their stomachs would hurt.

She loved holidays – Christmas and Easter, New Year’s Eve and Halloween. Decorating her tree was a holiday tradition for most of her family, for decades on Dudley Avenue and later at her apartment on Ste. Anne’s Road where the tree got downsized but was never missing. She hosted Christmas Eve at her house for many years before her daughters and grandchildren started sharing the load. In December 2019, what would be her final Christmas, she hosted Christmas Eve again. It was a loud, and crowded night that everyone loved.

Her New Year’s Eve parties were always the best. She would have a big party for the kids, with noise makers and hats and special treats. And at the stroke of midnight she had all the little ones head out the back door in the cold, banging pots and blowing horns, march around the side of the house and then back in the front door, to take the old year out the back and the bring the new year in the front.

However, in a grandparenting move bordering on genius, before the kids arrived, she had changed all the clocks so “midnight” happened no later than 10 p.m.

Her daughters remember the horror of being woken up in the morning with the sing-songy “It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up in the morning.” Corrine remembers the song fondly, even if she hated it, because that song, and Grandma’s cheery morning disposition, would drive her non-morning sister, Pat, crazy.

Mary had high expectations of her kids and grandkids for politeness and kindness and decorum. She hated cursing and would sigh and shake her head at any of us who got a little too boisterous at family gatherings. But she also had an intense sense of fairness, and seemed to always want to make every person feel like they were her favourite.

When she had the grandkids over for Easter egg hunts, she made sure every child ended up with about equal baskets full of goodies. At Christmas every grandchild would be spoiled with gifts, and nobody got more than the next. If Grandma had to throw in a package of gum or a chocolate bar to make the gifts all equal, she would.

When Samantha was too little to come with the rest of us to Rainbow Stage Grandma would bring over a bag of treats and goodies for Sam when she picked up Shelley and Tracy, just to make sure Sammy too knew she was special.

Grandma and Alannah had a very special bond, and Alannah remembers bringing her boyfriend, Ben home for the first time. Both were already a little nervous when Grandma leaned over and quietly whispered into Ben’s ear.

“I hate you, ya know,” she said.

Ben, much taken aback, inquired why. You know that Grandma had a sparkle in her eye but a little lump in her throat, as she responded.

“Because I used to be her favourite and now you are.”

She was a dedicated member of the Girl Guides of Canada and led the Brownie and Girl Guide and Pathfinder troops for years. She became a Brown Owl for her granddaughters’ Brownie troop but would stay on with Girl Guides for years after we all outgrew it, spending many weeks at Caddy Lake camps in the summer.

She loved people and everyone became her friend. She would drive her family crazy because she was so friendly, she would just talk to any stranger within talking distance everywhere she went.

She was always full of life, laughter and love, and everyone who met her was better for having her in their life.

We will love you forever Grandma.

Posted by Alannah Kate on May 8, 2021
My grandma was my best friend in the world. Being the youngest grandchild we had a lot of time together because I didn’t always have to share her with everyone else as they were at work while I was still growing up. Grandma worked at my school for many years and would pick me up and stay with me until my mom got home from work (she did this even through the years where I no longer needed a babysitter). Grandma and I had many talks that were just ours. She knew all my secrets and even though she loved to blab, those secrets always stayed just between us. I have now lived in Thailand for 5 years and there hasn’t been a single trip home where she was not my first stop. Coming home won’t be the same without her. There have been so many times this year where I have picked up the phone to call her just because I was feeling down. She never missed a call unless she couldn’t get her computer to work. I hate the moment I realize I can’t make those calls anymore. I loved everything about her and I miss her every day.

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Posted by Alannah Kate on May 8, 2021
My grandma was my best friend in the world. Being the youngest grandchild we had a lot of time together because I didn’t always have to share her with everyone else as they were at work while I was still growing up. Grandma worked at my school for many years and would pick me up and stay with me until my mom got home from work (she did this even through the years where I no longer needed a babysitter). Grandma and I had many talks that were just ours. She knew all my secrets and even though she loved to blab, those secrets always stayed just between us. I have now lived in Thailand for 5 years and there hasn’t been a single trip home where she was not my first stop. Coming home won’t be the same without her. There have been so many times this year where I have picked up the phone to call her just because I was feeling down. She never missed a call unless she couldn’t get her computer to work. I hate the moment I realize I can’t make those calls anymore. I loved everything about her and I miss her every day.
her Life
MARY YANKE
(nee CULLEN)
May 8, 1928 - August 12, 2020


Peacefully in Winnipeg, at the age of 92 years young.
Mary loved and was much loved by her daughters, Patricia Rabson (John), Corrine Sansome (Dennis) and Susan Harrison (John), her seven grandchildren, Lawrence Rabson, Mia Rabson Simons (Chad), Tracy Webber (Jonathan), Shelley Sansome (Mike Racz), Samantha Sansome (Dave Watson), Michael Rhys Harrison and Alannah Harrison (Ben), and six great-grandchildren, James, Tyler, Liam, Zahra, Owen and Jacob, her brother Larry Cullen (Pat), her best friend and sister-in-law, Joan Cullen, sister-in-law Wilma Cullen and a long list of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and neighbours.
Mary's heart and generosity loomed large in Manitoba for more than nine decades and her absence leaves a hole in our hearts that will never be filled.
She was predeceased by her husband of more than 50 years, Daniel Yanke, in 1998, and her brothers, David and Frank.
Due to COVID-19, a private family service is planned, with a larger celebration of her life to come later.
Those wishing to honour Mary's memory can make a donation to the St. Amant Foundation.For those who wish to sign the online
Guest Book please visit www.chapellawn.ca

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home
204-885-9715



As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Aug 15, 2020

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Happy Birthday, Mum!

Shared by Patricia Rabson on May 8, 2021
Today would have been mum's 93rd birthday. She was determined to celebrate 100 but an aging body and a spirit broken by COVID isolation prevented that from happening. She was quite the 'gal' - generous and outgoing - full of fun - loved by so many. We all miss her so much. May 8th will always be her special day in our hearts.
Shared by Joan Cullen on May 7, 2021
Apart from my Husband and Children she was the  most important person in my life.  I was 11 years old when I met her. She taught me how to love and  be loved . My parents were never interested in my activities and if they should happen to wonder where I was they would ask Mary because they knew I always had to check in with her .Both her and her husband Daniel worked at the Community Club on my behalf so I could attend events there,  as my parents would not help. When I was 11 years old I said I was going to marry her Brother and 7 years later I did  which meant I stayed in this wonderful family  the rest of my life. After my Husband passed I moved from B.C. to Winnipeg (2012) to be with her.  In  the 70 years we knew each other  we never had an argument.  How could you get mad at someone who always had a smile on her face.  I miss her every day.