Rhodella Louise Zweep (nee Achtenberg) (29 December 1936 – 28 January 2017) was the founder of what is now the Fay Gleeson Dance Centre in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
In the 1950s, Rhodella married Dr. Gary Gleeson, and became Rhodella Louise Gleeson.
Dr. Gary Gleeson also had brothers and sisters, and a niece, Fay Gleeson, who later married a Mr. Steadwell.
In 1958, she moved to Toronto with her husband to have a family. She left her dance studio to her niece Fay.
Rhodella had three children in Toronto with Dr. Gary Michael Gleeson:
- Cindy, who married Paul Kennedy
- Kelly, who married Greg Arnold
- Lorne Gleeson, who married Natalie
She had a second Husband, Larry "Zweepers" Zweep (died 2012) (married 1976). She became Rhodella Louise Zweep. She faced four step-children from his previous marriage to a woman called Rita:
- Debbie Zweep, who married James "Jim" Ball but kept her maiden name
- Kathy, who married Raymond Novak
- Michelle, who married Bryan Toderick
- Jo-Anne, who married Ray Hogard.
Rhodella Zweep, age 80 years, resident of Thunder Bay, passed away peacefully at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on Saturday, January 28, 2017.
Rhodella was a suitably rare name for a one-of-a-kind woman, mom and step-mom. In her youth, Rhodella was a student at Sylvia Horn's dance school, entertaining locally in the 1950s as a dancer and acrobat, and later opening her own dance school. Many women still share fond memories of dancing with Rhodella or being a pupil. When she married and moved to Toronto, she left the school in the hands of her talented sister-in-law Fay Gleeson (Steadwell).
Following a marital separation, she chose to move back to Fort William to raise her three children amid their close-knit Gleeson and Achtenberg families and to be closer to nature, especially the family camps at Shebandowan and Dog Lake. She worked at Vic Tannys gym then at Foranos in Thunder Bay, volunteered as a CGIT leader at First Church United and was an active member in the local Beta Sigma Phi.
It was challenging being on her own at a time when single parents were rare, but she did it with class, strength, independence and a wonderful sense of humour. These very qualities are what attracted the attention of Larry Zweep, the love of her life, whom she married in 1976. Their union brought together two families totalling 6 daughters, 1 son, 2 cats, a dog and a hamster. Although frequently short on hot water and bathroom time, it was a collectively supportive and loving home with lots of activity, animal antics, laughs and the frequent smell of Shake 'n Bake chicken.
She and Larry moved to Kenora in 1986 when he accepted a promotion with Ontario Ministry of Correctional Services. They shared many wonderful friends and experiences there, enjoying lucrative casino trips to Winnipeg. Their favourite was boating and fishing Lake of the Woods where mom caught her famous 10 pound pickerel which was proudly mounted and displayed in her living room. She remained in Kenora after Larry's passing in 2012, then early 2016 moved back home to Thunder Bay, enjoying the company of her children and grandchildren and eating regularly at her beloved Coney Island.
Mom was one of the lucky ones who mastered living in the moment, stopping to smell the roses and enjoying simple pleasures. She loved gardening, sightseeing, chatting up strangers and, like Snow White, befriending little critters from birds to chipmunks. She was generous with her love, time and attention to her children: Cindy (Paul) Kennedy, Kelly (Greg) Arnold, Lorne (Natalie) Gleeson and her step-daughters Debbie (James Ball) Zweep, Kathy Novak, Michelle Toderick, and Joanne (Ray) Hogard.
She is survived by her children, grandchildren (Adriann, Shaun and Sarah Kennedy, Cole Arnold, Amanda and Ryan Gleeson, Justin and Myles Ball, Alycia and Ian Novak, Breanne and Zach Toderick, and Katelin Hogard), great grandchildren and various Achtenberg family members. She was predeceased by her husband Larry Zweep, parents Ann and Edward Achtenberg, brother Ed Achtenberg, step-mother Jean Achtenberg, and son-in-laws Raymond Novak and Bryan Toderick.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of Rhodella's life will be taking place in March, notice to follow. Interment will take place privately this summer. If friends so desire, donations to Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation (Regional Stroke Unit) would be appreciated or to a charity of your choice.