She went from clerk to teacher to artist

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The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS -

lo­ria (Proud­lock) Thorpe was born in Van­cou­ver at the Grace Ma­ter­nity Hospi­tal in 1932 just two days af­ter the Bur­rard Street Bridge was of­fi­cially opened. Glo­ria said, “I am 85 and I am just as old as that bridge. In fact the Bur­rard Street Bridge has been as­sessed by her­itage con­sul­tants as be­ing one of the top his­toric build­ings in Van­cou­ver. Over the years im­prove­ments and re­pairs have been made to that bridge and like me I need some re­pairs too as I anx­iously wait for a much needed hip re­place­ment.”

The Bur­rard Bridge also known as the Bur­rard Street Bridge opened on Do­min­ion Day, in 1932. The five lane bridge, built to the tune of $3 mil­lion, was quite an amaz­ing struc­ture back then even though some peo­ple thought it was a mon­stros­ity.

Glo­ria was raised and ed­u­cated in Van­cou­ver. She at­tended Lord Ten­nyson el­e­men­tary school in Kit­si­lano, stud­ied pi­ano and joined the school choir. She was part of her el­e­men­tary school group that sang the Mes­siah at the Or­pheum The­ater.

When she was in Grade 8 and 15 years old her mother con­vinced her to take the Toronto Conservatory of Mu­sic exam. Her score was in the high 70s but since she had al­ways been a per­fec­tion­ist she cried be­cause the score wasn’t near per­fect.

The Toronto Conservatory of Mu­sic changed their name to the Royal Conservatory of Mu­sic of Toronto in 1947 and quickly be­came the most prom­i­nent mu­sic train­ing Conservatory in Canada. The Royal Conservatory ex­am­i­na­tions pro­vided a na­tional stan­dard for stu­dents, par­ents and teach­ers to mea­sure progress and achieve­ments. It has been noted over time that suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing an ex­am­i­na­tion builds self con­fi­dence and helps stu­dents develop a sense of pride.

Glo­ria at­tended the Lit­tle Flower Acad­emy, an in­de­pen­dent Catholic girls’ high school run by the Sis­ter’s of Saint Ann lo­cated in the Shaugh­nessy neigh­bor­hood of Van­cou­ver.

When she was in grade 11 she quit school and went to work for the tele­phone com­pany. She worked the old cord boards for the com­pany down on south Granville un­til she joined the mil­i­tary.

Glo­ria said, “I served in the Air Force for three years. I worked as an ac­count­ing clerk but I still had to wear a uni­form, learn how to stand at at­ten­tion and learn the skill of march­ing and that meant keep­ing up. I am just over five feet tall and I have short legs but I still had to stay in step and keep up just the same as ev­ery­one else. I hated march­ing.

“When I dis­charged from the Air Force I re­turned to the home of my par­ents in Van­cou­ver and worked for MacMil­lan Bloedel as a clerk ac­coun­tant.

“Later I at­tended Columbia Col­lege in Van­cou­ver and took the up­grade cour­ses I needed to qual­ify for en­trance at UBC. Upon com­ple­tion of all of that I took my teach­ers train­ing.”

Glo­ria’s first teach­ing job was in Mer­ritt and that is where she met Leonard (Len) Thorpe who at the be­gin­ning was just a good friend.

Glo­ria rem­i­nisced and said, “I shared liv­ing quar­ters with three other teach­ers and we quite of­ten had par­ties. Len was work­ing in a sport shop fix­ing small mo­tors at the time so I in­vited him to a drop in a the open house party.

“We dated for a year and got mar­ried in 1965. About a month be­fore our wed­ding day Len broke his leg. His doc­tor ad­vised us to post­pone the wed­ding but we went ahead with the wed­ding as planned.

“It took six years of heal­ing be­fore Len’s leg was back to near nor­mal again,” she said. “Len was a qual­i­fied car­pen­ter and when he was of­fered a job as a build­ing in­spec­tor in Prince Ge­orge he took it and we moved north. That was some­where in the mid 70s and it turned out to be a good job and a great move.”

To­gether they raised three chil­dren; Lori, Ruth and Crys­tal.

Sadly Leonard passed away in 2010 af­ter ten years of con­tin­ued poor health.

Glo­ria said, “I taught school for 33 years. I didn’t like teach­ing at first but I loved all the chil­dren. My only prob­lem was that I re­ally didn’t man­age the class­room very well be­cause I wanted to be ev­ery­one’s friend. I took an ad­di­tional class­room man­age­ment course and when I re­turned to the class­room af­ter the course, I came back as a dif­fer­ent per­son.

“Class­room man­age­ment is a process of en­sur­ing that class­room lessons run smoothly de­spite dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour by stu­dents. It teaches pre­ven­tion of dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour by keep­ing stu­dents or­ga­nized, or­derly, fo­cused and at­ten­tive on the class­room in­struc­tion.

“When I look back at all those years as a teacher I can say that they were the best years of my life. I love it when a for­mer stu­dent re­mem­bers me as their teacher, ap­proaches me, says hello and then gives me a big hug.”

When Glo­ria was 61 she suc­cess­fully fought cancer and be­cause she never felt right for a long time af­ter that she re­tired at the age of 63.

Glo­ria said, “I have loved paint­ing all of my life and I have al­ways en­joyed vis­it­ing art gal­leries. I at­tended a Van­cou­ver art school and took up pot­tery and paint­ing. I had to give it up for awhile be­cause I had to spend my sum­mers do­ing all the up­grad­ing needed to ob­tain my de­gree and I sim­ply did not have the time for it.

“Sev­eral years be­fore I re­tired I found that I had more spare time so I went back to my love of art.

“Vi­vian Ant­nonev at Stu­dio 2880 be­came my friend and men­tor in oil paint­ing. Af­ter some for­mal lessons I just painted on my own and joined the Artist Co-op which has be­come my sec­ond home.

“I joined the Artist Co-Op Work­shop and Gallery at 3955 Hart Hwy. The Artist Co-op is a non-profit so­ci­ety formed in 1987 with artist’s rang­ing from be­gin­ner to pro­fes­sional. It is our pur­pose to cre­ate a place for artists to meet, learn and teach each other. It is a great place to give and re­ceive sup­port and en­cour­age­ment from other artists.”

Af­ter 33 years of teach­ing in the pub­lic sys­tem, Glo­ria re­tired and be­came an active mem­ber of the Artist Co-Op where some of her art is on dis­play.

She en­joys work­ing with wa­ter­colour, oil, acrylic, coloured char­coal, pas­tel chalk and a pen and ink com­bi­na­tion.

Glo­ria sighed and said, “I have been slowed down for now by the fact that I need this darn hip re­place­ment. It is hard for me to get around and I have had to give up my beloved Tai Chi for now but as God as my wit­ness I will be back.”

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