Memorable Manitobans: Helen Clara Gerring Riesberry (1916-2010)
Social worker, community activist.
Born on a farm near Kemnay on 11 August 1916, daughter of Martha Gerring (c1876-1961) and David Gerring (1889-1982), while working in Brandon during the Great Depression, she met Donald Leach Riesberry of Rapid City, and married him in 1942. He was killed in October 1944 during active service during the Second World War, after which she continued her education at Brandon College. She then graduated with a gold medal from the School of Social Work at the University of Manitoba in 1948.
She returned to Brandon as the Executive Director of the Children’s Aid Society of Western Manitoba, a position she held until her retirement in October 1976. Under her leadership, the Agency developed programs to support families and nurture parenting skills including homemaker service, family and group daycare, summer camp and family life education. She also forged relationships with First Nations communities across southwestern Manitoba.
She was active in the Brandon Festival of the Arts, Quota Club, Hobbs Manor for senior citizens, and Canadian Nature Federation. Her contributions to the community were acknowledged by an honorary doctorate from Brandon University (May 1972) and induction into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt (May 1973).
She died at Brandon on 11 July 2010.
Obituary [Martha Gerring], Winnipeg Free Press, 4 May 1961, page 29.
Obituary [David Gerring], Winnipeg Free Press, 28 August 1982, page 41.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 14 July 2010.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 7 December 2019