It seems fair to say that Don and Betty Stebbing were early adopters in the life and witness of the Church. In the 1930s Don’s attendance at St. George’s, North Kamloops Sunday School was 100%. Meanwhile Betty Fraser was teaching Sunday School at Glenboig Presbyterian Church, Lanarkshire near Glasgow, Scotland.
Betty moved with her family to Kamloops in 1947 and joined the United Church where her aunt worshipped. She and Don married at that church on April 8, 1950.
Don worked for CN Rail in Kamloops until a conversation with a staff member one Sunday evening had him working in Vancouver the following Thursday.
Now located in Vancouver, St Thomas’, Collingwood in the Diocese of New Westminster was nearer to their new home than the United Church, and with four young children the Stebbing family became a central part of that congregation from 1957 until 1992.
Don was a principal leader of the Men’s Group for 12 years, tasked with the responsibility of selling plants at the annual Spring Fair. Under Ernie Eldridge he became treasurer and part of the Administration and Finance Group. Don was rector’s warden, people’s warden, served on the Canonical Committee and the Maintenance Committee. Don was also President of the Vancouver Transportation Club that met monthly for dinner at the Stanley Park Pavilion.
Both Don and Betty were involved in Bible Study at St Thomas’, and were very much part of the Cursillo Group in the diocese, Don serving as president.
Meanwhile, Betty served on Parish Council and was Chair of the Canonical Committee that appointed the first woman priest to St Thomas’. She was involved as a leader with Brownies and Guides. She was part of Little Helpers, ACW as well as Christian education lay leadership. For nine years Betty served on the St Jude’s Board, two as President. However it was a life-threatening illness (including treatment at the Mayo Clinic) that guided her into pastoral care, hospice work and later as a hospital visitor and trainer.
In 1967, Betty was given two years to live and throughout her illness and treatment was ably cared for by Don. Betty says Don was ‘as Christ’ to her during those difficult days, and Christ was and remains always at the centre of their marriage.
When the couple moved to Surrey in the early nineties their work for God continued unabated. Both were involved in Pastoral Care, Bible Study and Betty part of a group that established a healing ministry in the parish.
This inspiring and wonderful couple celebrated 68 years of marriage this year. Both have been awarded the ODNW; the present rector aware of all both had given to the Anglican Church made them draw lots to decide who should receive the honour first!
Although they aren’t active in Bible Study or Pastoral Care formally, now both take an active interest in the care and well-being of others and participated in the diocesan wide Lent Series (Meeting Jesus in John) led by their daughter Dianne (a current Church Warden at ‘Epiphany’) at their home.
In the sixteen years I’ve known this couple I have been so encouraged by their faith, love and commitment for Christ, the Church, their family and each other. And I know I am not alone. Many people who know them are inspired by their grace and dedication.
The Anglican Church (and especially St Thomas and Epiphany) are so much the richer for their active and hard-working participation over 60 years.
Our love and congratulations to Don and Betty on their milestone anniversary.
Photo of Don and Betty Stebbing: Courtesy of the Rev. Stephen Rowe