Margaret Waite had a zest for life and her happiness was contagious.
That’s what many remember about the 94-year-old who passed away on Oct. 5.
Sandra Salvador, seniors activity program coordinator with Community Services, first met Waite when she became a part of the party bus group.
The party bus program reaches out to vulnerable, isolated seniors to get them out of their houses for some physical exercise and give them the opportunity to socialize with other people. Twice a month, a former Handy Dart bus that fits up to 14 people, including two wheelchairs, picks up interested seniors at their own doorstep and takes them on an outing. Past trips have included a picnic in a park, a history lesson at the fort in Fort Langley, lunch at Osprey Village in Pitt Meadows and a tour of the Maple Ridge library. Each outing has a staff person or a “go-along,” plus a couple of volunteers who support the seniors. Lunch is provided and there are no costs for participants. The program was started because of a one-year $25,000 Active Aging grant through the United Way of the Lower Mainland, that has been extended into the new year. There are now more than 100 seniors who take advantage of the program.
”She was just always happy and positive and singing and dancing and telling stories. So everybody who knew her were just motivated by her positive attitude,” said Salvador.
Marilyn Napier, one of three of Waite’s children, remembers her mother as a real go getter.
“Everywhere she went people just loved her. And she made friends, my goodness,” chuckled Napier.
“Where ever she went she made a friend. If she went on a bus she made a friend.They would give her their address and phone number and they would get together. It was just amazing to me,” Napier continued.
Waite grew up in Vancouver and was the only daughter of Scottish parents. She lived in many areas of the Lower Mainland throughout her life including Richmond and Surrey, only settling in Maple Ridge to live with her daughter in April 2016.
Napier remembers a strong-willed woman who started tap dancing at 82-years-old only after convincing her dance teacher to take her on by performing a hula number for her. She also remembers the baker who she would make cinnamon buns and bread with.
When Waite moved to Maple Ridge Napier was concerned that she wasn’t getting out much and sleeping in more than usual. That’s when Napier saw an advertisement for the Seniors Party Bus. The first question she asked when she called for more information was how old were the participants in the program.
“She dressed young, she thought young and she loved young music,” said Napier about her mother.
But Waite had so much fun on the first outing with the group to Bella Vita Restaurant, downtown Maple Ridge, that she became a regular.
“She was just one of those gals. You give me a party and I’ll be the queen,” said Napier.
“Come and meet me, I’ll talk to you , I’ll dance with you, I’ll have some fun, I’ll tell you my life story. That’s what she did. That’s who she was,” Napier continued.
Napier remembers a positive woman that very rarely uttered a negative word.
“She could look out the window and it would be pouring rain and she would say what a lovely day,” said Napier, a trait that Napier’s husband remarked he would like to emulate.
“She was just somebody you can’t forget,” said Salvador.
Margaret Waite, 94, passed away at 3 a.m. on Oct. 5 2017 in Ridge Meadows Hospital.
• To register for the party bus, call 604-467-6911 extension 1405 to leave a name and phone number.