For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
O'BRYNE, Eileen (née WASSON) - (07 July 1925 - 29 April 2020). Age 95, of Victoria, B.C., passed into the radiant light Wednesday, April 29, 2020, surrounded by her loving family. Eileen was born July 7, 1925, in Halifax to Greta and Billie Wasson. She was an only child. She is survived by her 11 children, 16 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. And a million friends. Eileen was, by her own telling in one of her five self-published books, a lonely child who found great comfort taking care of her many dolls, all named Nancy. It was this childhood that led her to announce in her high school yearbook that she would marry young and have 12 children. During the Second World War, Eileen served her country as a Wren in the Woman's Royal Canadian Naval Service. Here she met Michael Brien O'Byrne, a precocious Lieutenant as she tells it. Michael was smitten with Eileen but he told her that his plans after the war were to travel the world and marry late. So they got married a week after the war ended and moved to Edmonton, Alta., where they had 10 children by birth and one by adoption. The first-born was named Nancy. A loving wife and mother, Eileen ran a teeming household without help other than the older children. Michael committed himself to a burgeoning legal practice culminating with his appointment to the Alberta Supreme Court, the youngest appointee ever in Canada at the time. They were married for 55 years until Michael's passing on April 23, 2001. Eileen always gave her blessing and support to her children to pursue their dreams whatever they may be. The only caveat was they had to make us happy. And that made her both happy and proud. After her children were well on to their individual lives, Eileen returned to college for a degree in Social Work. She was the top of her class and this led to an appointment to an Alberta Provincial Commission that established essential working guidelines still in use to this day. Edmonton can be a cold place and Eileen also missed the coastal life. She suggested a move. Michael said he would never leave Edmonton. So Eileen got on a plane to Victoria the next day and bought a condominium on the inner harbor. Not long after Michael moved there too. She lived there happily for the next 40 years of her life. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren often visited and many now live there too. Victoria was Eileen's town and by her love and kindness, she created a close community of family and friends. Whether one knew Eileen their whole life or just met her once she was simply unforgettable. Eileen was a force of nature expressed with style, grace, and an enchanting twinkle in her eye. Vivacious, loving and generous, there was always room for one more at any table set by Eileen. And any gathering was worthy of her good china. Eileen was famous for her "wine-time" gathering and whether alone or with a gaggle of loved ones she set out drinks and snacks, turned on her favorite music, and danced in her front hall. No one was more youthful at any age. Our mother infused her life with joy. She often hummed a musical tune as she went about her days. We all know her tune. Eileen's last request to her family was please do not to grieve for her because in her words, "I got everything I wanted, I lived a glorious life and everything I dreamed came true." The O'Byrne motto is "I Fought and Conquered" and she did every day of her life but she won all her battles with love. The Wasson motto is "Fame Forever" and that she certainly is. We will never be able to fill the void that she has left in our family or in her community but we know if we listen we will hear her happy tune in the songs of the free-flying birds that surround her home. Eileen always believed that youth was a gift of nature and age was a work of art. By every account, her life was a masterpiece. Published in Halifax Chronicle Herald 04 May 2020.