Maurice “Oscar” Axford Housen was born on November 12th, 1934 in the town of Unity, Saskatchewan. His parents, Fred & Eula Housen farmed five miles west of Unity on Highway 14. He and his older brother Bill attended Belton School for the first few years, then in 1944, the family moved into town where the boys continued their schooling. As a teenager, Oscar worked at Stan Love’s local butcher shop after school and on weekends. From making bicycle deliveries around town and cutting meat, he worked his way up the ladder. Stan’s shop was bought out by Jimmy Dickson in 1947 and the locker plant was built in 1948. Over the next number of years Oscar worked for Jimmy and in 1958 partnered with him as an owner and eventually became the sole owner in 1972. When going into the meat shop, Oscar always made you feel welcome with his great and friendly service. One might even wonder if the butcher’s thumb was under the scale and not on it! In 1974, after 28 years in the meat business, Oscar sold the shop. For two years he continued working in several neighbouring towns as a relief butcher. Then in 1976, he started a new career at the Unity Post Office, first as a part-time clerk then eventually becoming full-time. He spent 14 years working in Unity for Canada Post then retired on January 1st, 1990. When once asked about his career change, Oscar quipped “Carrying a letter was a hell of a lot lighter than carrying a quarter of beef!”
In 1952, a young lady by the name of Betty Baldwin, who had grown up in Springside and Lanigan, Saskatchewan, graduated from the nursing program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon. From there she moved to Unity for a job at the local hospital. She would eventually meet Oscar, and in 1954, they got married. After Oscar’s mother Eula passed, he and Betty lived with his dad Fred for 18 years. Together, Oscar and Betty raised a son and two daughters. Rod was born first in 1956, and a year later followed Sherry. In 1962, Kim, the youngest daughter took ill two days after her first birthday. She required emergency surgery which was followed by complications that caused brain damage. Afterwards she required total nursing care and was transferred three months later to Valley View Centre in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on November 26, 1962. Kim spent 41 years there until her death on February 24, 2004 at the age of 42.
Family was essential to Oscar and he was always such a great support to his kids and grandchildren. They would celebrate family Christmas together at home in Unity, and many summers were spent together at the cabin at Atton’s Lake, where Oscar would join his family after closing up the meat shop on a Saturday evening, and take a free Sunday to enjoy the ballgame, wiener roast, and of course, a barbecued steak.
Community was also a pillar in Oscar’s life. Oscar was a proud member of the Unity Lions Club for 58 years. He was Club President from 1959-1960 and also served other executive roles over the years. He achieved 30 years of perfect attendance during his time with the club. In 1978, he became an Honorary Member of the Unity Branch #90 of the Royal Canadian Legion and in March of 1996 became a Meritorious Life Member of the Legion. Right from the start, he was very active, always willing to do more than his share of work for the branch. He made sure the lounge was always ready for rentals of all occasions, including court, private parties, and meetings. If a work party was needed such as cooking, taking crosses to the cemetery, or planting flowers at the local Legion Park, Oscar was always one of the first people ready and willing to do the work.
Oscar enjoyed the simple things in life and never had a desire to be materialistic or a collector of things. His passion was helping others and putting a meal on others’ tables during tough times. At the Legion, he was frequently in the kitchen helping to cook and prepare meals. Oscar carved hundreds of turkeys, roasts, and hams for weddings, parties, and special events. He was often the first asked to bartend for numerous events at the Community Centre and Legion. He helped cook at the Unity Golf Club kitchen from 1990-2000. In those summer months, he would often work a shift before or after a round of golf. He never missed the opportunity for a game of cards whether it was cribbage or bridge. Over the years, Oscar was involved in sports and always known for his good sportsmanship. He played baseball from 1950 to 1955. He coached Little League ball and organized games from 1954-1968. He then became an umpire for Little League as well as Mens & Ladies Fastball in Unity from 1968-1985.
Oscar loved seeing youth active and participating in the community. When he was no longer behind home plate, he was the #1 fan, cheering on the participants from the stands or sitting on the sidelines in his lawn chair watching the local games. He also travelled regionally to watch ball at many communities nearby.
He was an avid bowler and was president of the local bowling club. Oscar also loved to play pool and would spend time with his dear friends at the local billiards hall and the Legion hall. He was past president of the Little Assembly Dance Club. He enjoyed curling and was president of the local curling club in 1959. For several years he helped with the Unity Figure Skating Club to play music and supervise at practices. In 2006, Oscar was inducted into the Unity Sports Wall of Fame as a Builder.
On February 5, 1988, Oscar was awarded the Government of Canada award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community. From 1990-2010 he drove the Lions Club Courtesy Car every Tuesday. He always went out of his way to do extra pick-ups and deliveries for the seniors. In 1988, he was awarded the “Citizen Of The Year” by the Unity Kinettes Club. He was a blood donor for 37 years and was on call with the hospital to donate blood for emergencies.
Maurice “Oscar” Axford Housen passed away peacefully on December 4th, 2020 with his immediate family by his side. Oscar is pre-deceased by his parents Fred & Eula Housen. In-Laws Arthur & Helen Baldwin. Step-Mother-In-Law Iva Baldwin. Aunt Lottie Hargin & husband Roy. Sister-In-Law Gwen Baldwin. Daughter Kim Marie Housen. Brother-In-Law Don Baldwin & wife Marie. Uncle Harvey Housen & wife Ilene. Sister-In-Law Pearl Housen.
Oscar is survived by his loving wife Betty, married for 66 years. Son Rod (Trudy), grandsons Brent (Mercedes) and Craig. Daughter Sherry (Rob) Nichols, granddaughter Jeri (Ali) and grandson Dale (Karine). Brother Bill Housen. Cousin Jim (Barb) Housen. Cousin Nelson (Sheryl) Emiry. Seven nieces and nephews.
Oscar was so very proud of his family and grandchildren, and the community he belonged to. The family would like to extend a heart felt Thank You & Appreciation to Dr. Bloem and all the Medical staff, Kitchen, Laundry, Activities Department, and Housekeeping staff at Unity Long Term Care.
The family asks that donations in Oscars memory be made to:
Unity Minor Ball
Or a charity of your choice via:
Oscar Always Served Everyone With A Smile.
A memorial will be held at a later date, pending Covid-19 restrictions & precautions.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of MAURICE AXFORD HOUSEN, please visit our floral store.
UNITY MINOR BALL
Box 1641, UNITY SK S0K 4L0
Charity of donor's Choice