Loretta Isabel Warnsby (nee Barber) was born on 05 July 1946, the fourth child and second daughter of Clarence (Mike) Ruben Barber and Agnes Rose Barber (nee Simon). She was a member of the Crow Clan and a Citizen of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. Her early days were spent on the White and Stewart Rivers where her family trapped and cut wood for the paddle-wheelers. Loretta attended school in Dawson and later at FH Collins in Whitehorse. She was an excellent student and her teacher encouraged her to go to college but her family could not afford it so she went to the Secretarial School instead. After graduating and working several jobs around Yukon she returned to Dawson to work at the Commerce and Montreal banks.
It was in the late 60’s that she met Ben Warnsby, the love of her life, and they were married in 1970 in Merritt, B.C. After marrying Ben, Loretta supported him in his many business ventures. They sometimes looked after Loretta’s younger brother and sister, as needed. In 1984, she was happily surprised to welcome Benjamin Bruce, her only child. As Bruce grew up, she was a stay-at-home mother for a number of years.
In the 1990’s with Bruce in school, Loretta returned to work at the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program. She soon, however, took the opportunity to gain a college education by enrolling in Yukon College’s Social Work program graduating in 1997.
After obtaining her degree, Loretta worked for many years with Yukon’s Healthy Families to support families in providing a safe and supportive home for their children. In retirement, Loretta was often greeted by families who she had supported.
Outside of work and her family, her passion was her well-maintained backyard and vegetable garden. She also enjoyed taking part in Elder Active programming including Carpet Bowling (for which she won medals) and singing with the Han Singers. She was actively involved in Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in as a regular attendee at meetings. She had a love for dogs and was thinking recently of getting a new dog.
Although she was impacted by cognitive issues later in life, until the end Loretta remained active shoveling snow (much to Bruce’s chagrin), walking, and visiting Ben at Copper Ridge.
Loretta suffered a massive stroke on Boxing Day and died in Bruce’s arms, surrounded by her family on New Year’s Eve, just as the Whitehorse fireworks started.
Loretta is preceded by:
Her Parents: Mike and Agnes Barber
Her Sister: Joanne Braga (and husband, Michael)
Her Brothers In Law: Clifford and Ivor Warnsby; David Browne (Molly’s late husband)
Her Close Cousins: Julia Morberg and Arlene Warville
She will be forever missed by:
Her Husband: Ben
Her Son: Bruce
Her Brothers: George Barber, Chuck (Arthur) Barber and wife, Bonnie, Clancy (Clarence) Barber
Her Sisters: Molly (Margaret) Rogers-Browne, Donna and husband, Earl Darbyshire
Her Close Cousin: Angie (Agnes) Joseph-Rear
Numerous Cousins, Nieces, Nephews and Friends.
The Family would like the extend a Mahsi Cho to the Staff, Doctors, Nurses at Whitehorse General Hospital for the great care they gave to Loretta during her last days and the wonderful support they gave us as we sat with her.
The Family will host a Memorial Potlatch in Loretta’s memory on 5 August 2023 in Dawson after we release Loretta’s ashes on the Midnight Dome.
We ask that instead of sending flowers (as much as Loretta loved them) that you make a donation to Loretta Warnsby Memorial Scholarship fund at University of Victoria Law School (https://extrweb.uvic.ca/loretta-warnsby-donation) which is set up to support Disabled Indigenous Law Students.
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day