By Grant Nordman
One Hundred years ago in late December 1920, in the small south-west Manitoba town of Minto, Kathleen “Kae” Lylie McPhee was born. It was December 19, close to the longest night of the year. New parents William and Stella McPhee were thrilled to start a family. The following year they moved to Wellwood, Manitoba to be closer to Stella’s family (Freeborn) where William worked on the family farm.
Growing up in Wellwood, on HWY 5 between Carberry and Neepawa, in the 20’s and 30’s was a challenge, as the depression deepened in rural Manitoba. They made the best of it making do with the simple pleasures along with sports like hockey, speed skating and curling in the winter and track and field and baseball in the summer.
When Kathleen (Kae) was 14, she met the love of her life on an indoor skating rink in Wellwood, when a young man visiting from Winnipeg chased her, in fun, around the rink. Ten years later, in May 1944, she married that young man, LT. Rurik (Ric) Nordman. So began the team of Ric and Kae which continued for over 50 years. From Winnipeg to California and back, the pair owned, operated and managed restaurants, night clubs, hotels, banquet halls, golf and country clubs, and travel agencies. Along the way, two sons, Grant and Greg, joined the team.
Kae realized quickly that she was, as she described it, “One of the boys!” At this point, the boys’ games began and she was the ultimate volunteer, fund raiser, supporter and fan of every sport and activity that Grant and Greg competed in.
She was also the perfect politician’s spouse when Ric served as both an elected city councillor in the ‘70s and a member of the Legislature in the ‘80s. Ric knocked on the doors while Kae ran the election machine in the campaign office. They were partners in every sense of the word.
Since Ric sadly passed in 1996, Kae has carried on for another quarter century. Today, she continues to live in the family home in Westwood. She’s still an avid sports fan but is missing the Jets, the Bombers and the Blue Jays. Family and friends also know that politics are a huge part of Kae’s daily pastime.
Kae and Ric were honoured with a Lifetime Membership of the PC Party of Manitoba by Premier Gary Filmon in 1993. She is the proud grandmother to five grandsons that are never far from her thoughts and prayers.
Kae Nordman is like the “Energizer Bunny” and just keeps going and beating that drum. Long may she run!
Happy 100th, Kae! – Ed.