Folks at First – Rheta Usher

A hundred years ago a little girl named Rheta was growing up near Regina, in a farmhouse where 1st Ave. N. runs today. She remembered coming to church in a horse and cart.

Fifty years later, when Marg and Erwin Ziolkowski first arrived at FBC, the Ushers were there to welcome them. Erwin had mentioned on his teacher application form that he was a Baptist, and Bob Usher was chair of the School Board. The Ushers immediately included them in their social lives, initiating them into the square dancing which was led at that time by the Ushers and Ede and Ern Ellis.

While Bob was active in the community, Rheta was the homemaker. She had a great gift for friendship, welcoming visitors to church, entertaining in her home, and generally making people feel appreciated.

She was an active member of the choir at FBC for over seventy years.

She endowed the Rheta Usher Memorial Scholarship, given annually in her memory to youth at the church who are interested in music.

During the War Years (1939-45) Rheta and Bob welcomed “Audrey,” who came to them from Britain to escape the “Blitzkrieg.” Audrey and Vivian (Bob and Rheta’s only daughter) still maintain their friendship.

The Usher Unicorn, mascot of Robert Usher Collegiate. Photo by Don Healy, Leader-Post

After Bob’s death in the sixties Rheta continued her active lifestyle. She never lost interest in the affairs at Robert Usher Collegiate, particularly the athletic activities of “the Unicorns.” Students and staff showered her with affection at the various functions she attended.

While she had her car she made a point of ferrying her homebound friends (her “Girls”) to their various appointments. After the car was retired she familiarizied herself with the Regina Transit System so she could get to all her functions.

Rheta remained a going concern to the very end. A “Come and Go” party was held for her ninetieth birthday at First Baptist Place. Over a hundred people attended. After celebrating with us all for several hours she had to leave—in order to attend a basketball game at Usher Collegiate.

At the age of 100, on 18 April 2003, she attended the Good Friday service. But on Easter Sunday, not feeling well, she stayed home. She departed to her eternal home, while in the church the choir was singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

Rheta Usher sits on her throne in the center of the Robert Usher Collegiate gym in 2002 as the staff, students and guests helped her celebrate her 100th birthday. Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Leader-Post