Doreen Oke

Obituary of Doreen Margaret Oke



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OKE: Doreen Margaret


Doreen Margaret Oke (née Steinhauer) died peacefully on March 12, 2024, with her daughters Lesley and Marion by her side.


Predeceased by her husband David Herbert Oke, daughter Susan Oke Pulfer (Richard), parents Honourable Ralph Steinhauer OC and Isabel Steinhauer (née Davidson), and sisters Kathleen Anderson (Gilbert) and June Chisan (Vern). 


Doreen was much loved by her family and will be greatly missed by her daughters Marion Dundas Oke (Clinton) and Lesley Oke Hayward (Bob), her son-in-law Richard Pulfer, her grandchildren Chris Pulfer (Melanie), James Pulfer (Mary), Erika Pulfer (Shane), Will Pulfer (Cory), Jenn Moore (James), Kiah Work (Tim), Marisa Dundas, Emily Dundas Oke, Graeme Hayward, Leah Hayward (Steven), her nine great grandchildren, her sister Muriel Manywounds and her brother Ken Steinhauer (Hazel), her sisters-and brother-in-law, and her many nieces and nephews. Kind, loving and generous, “GG” received much joy from her extended family and left an indelible mark on their lives.


Born on May 19, 1931, in St. Paul, Alberta, and a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in Treaty 6, Doreen and her sisters Muriel and Kathleen spent three years at the Edmonton Residential School. After Doreen almost died of pneumonia, her mother pulled all three girls out of the school and home schooled them back on the reserve for two years, finally giving them the education they missed.


The three eldest Steinhauer girls continued their education as boarders at Duclos School in the village of Duclos and then at Alberta College in Edmonton. After Muriel graduated from Alberta College, Doreen and Kathleen completed their final year of high school at Victoria High School in Edmonton.


From an early age, Doreen dreamed of becoming a registered nurse, a dream she realized when she began her nurses training at Ponoka Mental Hospital, where she was able to specialize as a psychiatric nurse.  


She and her classmates got into all kinds of antics, and forged friendships that would last a lifetime. Class reunions continued throughout the years, often at different destinations, or in the form of trips together. There was always lots of laughter and much merriment when the “girls” got together, reminiscing about their time at Ponoka and creating new memories. 


Not only did Doreen forge lifelong friendships at Ponoka, she also met the love of her life.  David was an orderly, much admired by her classmates for his “dashing good looks”.  They married on May 11, 1956, just a few weeks short of Doreen’s graduation, where she gave the valedictorian address.


Doreen practiced nursing for many years, before switching careers and becoming a teacher, completing her teaching career as a special education teacher at Brockton High School in Toronto, where she once again formed many lasting friendships. 


Mom had so many stories to share from her long and varied career, whether it was caring tenderly at home for Irene Sands Smythe, Conn Smythe’s wife, during the latter years of Irene’s life, being invited to practice nursing at the Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital founded by Dr. Wilder Penfield (which she declined so she could follow her new husband to Kingston), or trying to focus the energy of her beloved special education students at Brockton.  


Whether it was her first patients at Ponoka, her private patients such as Irene, or her energetic special education students, Mom’s calm and peaceful manner and her quiet demeanour soothed even the most troubled patient or student.  Doreen had a special gift that was recognized by all who knew and worked with her. 


Married life took Doreen and David across the country and around the globe. Doreen and David settled in Ontario (Kingston, Toronto, Peterborough and Westwood). From 1970 to 1973, Doreen, David and their three girls lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where Doreen taught at the International School, and the Okes developed many close friendships. Doreen and David later lived in Werribee, Australia, as part of a teaching exchange. Whether it was living abroad, travelling or going to the symphony, travel and cultural experiences were an important part of Doreen and David’s married life. Doreen was also active in St. Andrews United Church in Westwood and the Women’s Institute in her local community.

Continuing the family tradition that began with David, the family bestows upon Doreen Margaret Oke the degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

The family wishes to extend their thanks to the staff at Canterbury Gardens and the doctors and nurses at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) for their caring support these last few weeks. The care they provided allowed Doreen to pass away comfortably and peacefully. We are profoundly grateful.


A Celebration of Doreen’s Life will be held at the Norwood United Church on Saturday June 8, 2024 at 1:00 PM.  Donations can be made in Doreen’s memory to the PRHC Foundation or a charity of your choice and may be made by contacting THE HENDREN FUNERAL HOMES, NORWOOD CHAPEL, 36 Queen Street, Norwood at or by calling 795-639-5322.


Memorial Service

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Saturday, June 8, 2024
Norwood United Church
4264 Highway 7
Norwood, Ontario, Canada
Memorial Service