September 15, 1924 - July 24, 1944
Imelda Stever was born on September 15, 1924 in Bathhurst, Gloucester County, New Brunswick, one of three daughters (Evangeline and Martha) and four sons (Joseph, Elmer, Herman and Vincent Jr.) of Vincent and Mary Louise (nee Vienneau) Stever later of Temiscamingue, Quebec, Gloucester and Kirkland Lake, Ontario, then McWatters, Quebec. Five other children died in infancy. The family was Roman Catholic. The family moved to Quebec in 1936. Joseph, two years older than Imelda, was on active service overseas.
Imelda left school at 13 years of age, after Grade 6. She was bi-lingual, but her English was not strong. She had irregular employment before she enlisted in the WRCNS, but had doing some domestic work. She was unemployed when she enlisted in Toronto on June 25, 1943 and undecided as to what she wanted to do after the war.
She stood 5' 2 1/2" tall, had black hair and hazel eyes. It was noted she was 'somewhat obese.' She had a scar on her left eyelid and one on her right knee. She noted she smoked 10-12 cigarettes a day and drank moderately. She had fair dental health.
On one of her reference forms: "She is honest and trustworthy. I would trust her in anything and would recommend her to my personal friends." Mr. Albini Laviolette, Miner
On the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service Interview form, Imelda only required one week's notice to report for service. "Speaks both French and English. Writes and reads French slightly. English speach not too good. Has done waitress work. Also chambermaid at hotel in Kirkland Lake. Also general domestic in private home. Can cook a bit. CAPABILITY: Average. RELIABILITY: Average. APPEARANCE: Attractive French type; alert, very clean. SPEECH: Ungrammatical, 'my gosh' sprinkled in conversation. SUITABILITY: Steward or Cook. Very willing and keen to serve. Will make a good steward. Doesn't have the education for SBA. Understands service discipline. Hasn't had many advantages. Her first trip to the city [Toronto]. Seems very bright and would learn easily. I doubt if she will comprehend entirely the lectures at Conestoga." Marion Baxter, Sub Lt WRNS
Imelda took training at HMCS Conestoga from August 12, 1943 to September 20, 1943 and was assigned as a Wren Messwoman at HMCS Protector, Sydney, Nova Scotia effective September 21, 1943.
On October 3, 1943, Wren Stever was admitted to the Royal Canadian Naval Hospital in Sydney, Nova Scotia for possible appendicitis. It was noted she had had measles, mumps and pertussis (whooping cough), no operations nor serious injuries. Her mother had hypertension (high blood pressure). Diagnosis: Constipation. She was to avoid fatty and fried foods, cabbage and turnips, and was to take powders as directed, plus milk of magnesia if needed.
In February 1944, she was admitted to the hospital again for a case of scabies that started between her fingers of her right hand, then spread over her arm, back and legs. She received treatment. In April 1944, she was checked over for possibly tonsillitis.
Wren Imelda Stever purchased $50 worth of Victory Bonds of the Sixth Victory Loan of the Dominion of Canada in April/May 1944.
On July 24, 1944, Wren Stever drowned. "DEEPLY REGRET TO REPORT DEATH BY DROWNING WHILST ON SHORE LEAVE THIS EVENING 24TH JULY OF WREN IMELDA STEVER W-3419. ANOTHER WREN NOT YET IDENTIFIED SUSPECTED OF BEING DROWNED NOT YET RECOVERED. DIVERS HAVE CARRIED OUT DILIGENT SEARCH. THIRD WREN LILLIAN PENTELUICK NOW IN HOSPITAL, RECOVERY HOPED FOR, UNABLE TO GIVE EVIDENCE AT THIS STAGE. BOARD OF INQUIRY CONVENED. CORONER INFORMED. NEXT OF KIN WREN STEVER INFORMED TONIGHT. FURTHER MESSAGE WILL BE SENT TOMORROW REGARDING UNIDENTIFIED WREN. NEXT OF KIN OF WREN PENTELUICK WILL ALSO BE INFORMED TOMORROW. IF NECESSARY MAY ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NOVA SCOTIAL BE INFORMED VIDE NAVAL ORDER 3178."
Wren Mary Rech was the unidentified woman who drowned. Wren Lillian Penteliuk (note different spelling) recovered and testified at the inquiry. All three women could not swim.
For more information, please read Mary Rech's story.
In a letter dated June 18, 1945, Mr. Vincent Stever, wrote a letter to the War Service Gratuity Section. "I wish to inform you that [Imelda's] mother was receiving an assigned pay of $10.00 per month from my late daughter while she was in the Service. And as this money was used to the advantage and in some respects the support of the recipient, never-the-less, there was no immediate cause for dependency. Therefore it is my desire that payment should be made to my late daughter's Service Estate of which I claim redemption as the next of kin."
In the list of her personal belongings: clothes, letters, snapshots, toiletries, a man's watch, a New Testament, gloves, and a lamp shade.
Wren Imelda Stever's body was sent to Rouyn, Quebec on July 26, 1944 for burial at St. Guillaume de Granada Cemetery, Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec.