From Church Bell to Ring and Crucifix
Rita Berlando was employed with the Lethbridge law firm Virtue and Company for approximately five years in the early 1960s. While employed there, Berlando began to provide private secretarial services to Gladstone Virtue, who was at the time a semi-retired lawyer. Virtue was born in 1894 and had served with Lethbridge’s 61st Battery in the First World War before returning to Lethbridge and founding the law firm where Berlando later worked.
According to Berlando, “As the months went by, he became very—and I use the word ‘attached’. He would ask me to do services for him, [including]…his banking, his investments, and everything. When he was no longer to be with the firm, he handed me a little gift. That gift consists of a ring and a cross that was made from a bell of a church that was bombed in the First [World] War. That meant an awful lot to me so I have treasured it continually.”
When asked why Virtue chose her to care for those objects, she said, “Well, I think that [he] put such a trust in me. I feel now, even in the years gone by, how I’ve always wanted someone, or anyone that had any connections with me, that they could trust me… I guess it’s just my nature to be that type of person that, if someone like Mr. Virtue could trust me, and then clients can trust me. I think [the experience] instilled that trust that I’ll carry to my grave.”
Berlando recently donated the ring and crucifix to the Galt Museum & Archives. The objects have been added to our permanent collection. You can find out more about the objects and stories the Galt preserves at collections.galtmuseum.com.