Obituaries

  • Viviane Johnson

    Viviane Johnson

    Viviane Johnson died peacefully at her home, surrounded by family, on May 25, 2017, at the age of 63, after living with cancer for 2 years. Viviane is survived by her spouse, Don Smardon; former husband Gray Switzer; children, Eric Switzer and Denea Maughan ((nee Switzer) Tyler Maughan); and granddaughter Isla Maughan. She graduated from UBC in 1976, after which she enjoyed a career as a Nutritionist/Dietician. She was a loving and spirited partner, mother, nana, and friend. We are grateful for all the community support she received during her illness. There will be a celebration of life June 17, 2017, at Viviane’s home on Gabriola, from 1-4pm. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Viviane’s life. 

  • Maureen (Marine) Alaine Elliott Visser

    Maureen (Marine) Alaine Elliott Visser

    It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of a long time dear friend, Maureen (Marine) Alaine Elliott Visser. 

    Marine passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep in the wee morning hours on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. 

    She was 50 years old.

    Marine was a long time Gabriola resident mother-of-two and loved by many. 

    She was passionate about art especially painting and loved to play the guitar and sing. 

    She is survived by her son Forest Visser; a sister in Australia, Noreen; and her son-in-spirit J. Shaw Nixon; as well as many friends and community members.

    Marine was predeceased by her mother Carol, and her daughter Meagan, whose tragic death left Marine with a grief too difficult to bear. We will miss you Marine and hope you find peace with your mother and daughter.

    A gathering to celebrate her life will be held at the Gabriola Commons on Friday May 12 between 4 and 6 pm.

    Please join us in remembering this kind soul, who was an advocate to those who needed it most, and a gentle, honest human being.

  • Mary Dodds

    Mary Dodds

    Nov. 29, 1925 - Apr. 7, 2017

    Mary was born in Sorrento, BC, the fifth of seven children. Meeting him as a young girl, love rekindled after his wartime service, and in 1945 she married Halsey Dodds. Three boys were raised and Halsey’s career with the Dept. of Transport took the family to Port Hardy, then Sandspit for many happy years, followed by Prince George. As the boys finished school, Mary upgraded her own high school education, obtained her teaching certificate at Simon Fraser University and became an elementary school teacher. Their move to Gabriola Island led to a multi year position at Gabriola School. After her retirement, former students would often tell Mary how influenced they were by her caring and compassion. 

    Everywhere Mary lived she planted colorful flower gardens. Their home in Degnen Bay was featured in garden tours. Her condo balcony at Cameron Island and even Origin at Longwood were blooming opportunities. 

    Quilting was also a passion and travels often led to fabric stores. Mary created lifelong friendships in the Gabriola Quilters Association. Her hand-stitched pieces grace the homes of family and friends and even more were donated to charities. 

    Mary was blessed with a loving, giving spirit. She was predeceased by her husband Halsey and three siblings. Her surviving brother passed one week after Mary. She will be deeply missed by her two surviving sisters, three sons, Bruce (Jeannette), Mike (Carole), and Steve (Linda), six grandchildren, ten great grandchildren, extended family, and many friends.

    Our sincere appreciation goes out to the wonderful caring staff at Origin at Longwood and we thank Dr. Balfour and Dr. Baillie for their wisdom and support.

    A small local memorial gathering will be held in the lounge at Origin at Longwood April 26th at 2PM. A family Celebration of Life will be arranged at a later date.

  • John Herbert Hall

    John Herbert Hall

    Jul. 21, 1937 - Mar. 17, 2017

    John Hall died peacefully on March 17, 2017, at the Palliative Care Unit at Nanaimo Hospital. His wife, Joyce, daughters Karen and Sandy, sister Iris, grandchildren and great grandchildren together with a few of John’s closest friends were all able to be with him during his final hours, and have found much comfort and support at this difficult time.

    John was known throughout Gabriola as an active member of the community, including among other things being a member of the Ratepayers Association, the Power Squadron and the Bridge Club during his 20 years’ residence here. John was always willing to help neighbours with their computer problems, as IT was a favourite pastime, together with travelling, fishing and in past years, sailing.

    John was an accomplished engineer, having worked in the natural gas industry, retired early after using his skills to build his own boat and then his home here on Gabriola. He was very happy here, having moved to Canada at the age of 18 from his birthplace in London, England, and then taking Canadian Nationality. His cheerful and helpful outlook will be sadly missed by all the family and friends who knew him. No service by request.

  • Jesse Thomas Preston

    Jesse Thomas Preston

    Jesse Thomas Preston, aged 36, passed away on February 14, 2017 while traveling in southeast Asia. Cause of death was blood poisoning from an infection.

    Jesse was born and raised on Gabriola, attending Gabriola Elementary School, NDSS and Malaspina College before finishing his education in Audio Visual in Vancouver. He lived and worked in Vancouver as an A/V technician as well as operating his own DJ business.

    Energetic and outgoing, Jesse was passionate about music and travel. He will be remembered with love and affection by his many friends around the world.

    He is survived by his mother Judy Preston, brother Graeme Preston, and step father Mike Hoeinghaus of Gabriola, and father Paul Preston of Nanoose.

    A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise funds for a memorial bench in English Bay where he lived and spent many hours on the beach with friends. 

    Visit www.gofundme.com/memorial-bench-for-jesse-preston

  • Linda Olsen

    Linda Olsen

    Apr. 15, 1933 - Feb. 21, 2017

    Linda Olsen (nee Staf) was born on April 15, 1933 in Chilliwack, BC. She was the youngest daughter of Hilda and Carl Staf, Swedish-speaking immigrants from Finland, and sister to Ruth and Bernice. They lived on a farm in Aldergrove, selling the wood they cleared from the land, milk from the cows they kept, and for a time, the wool from the Angora rabbits they raised. Linda moved to Abbotsford after high school to work as a clerk for the family welfare office. She also sang with a band on weekends in the Abbotsford and Matsqui area. She spent many weekends in the summers at Cultus Lake with her sisters Ruth and Bernice and their friends, and many weekends in the winter skiing at Mt. Baker, Washington. She moved to Vancouver while in her early 20’s to sing with a professional, touring women’s quartet, The Velvetones, and to work as secretary to Dr. Gordon Shrum in the Physics Department at UBC, where she met her future husband, Bill. 

    She married in Vancouver in 1957, moving to Chalk River, Ontario in 1958, shortly after their first child, Greg, was born. The family settled in Edmonton, Alberta in 1960, where Liz was born three years later, and David nine years after that, in 1972. Linda was a devoted mother and always a source of fun, love and support to her three children. She always actively helped and encouraged them in their interests, and was a friend to their friends. Over the years, she worked in secretarial and administrative positions, and never lost her love for singing and the arts. 

    In her late 40’s, feeling restless and eager for a new challenge, Linda decided to return to school and attend university. She obtained her high school matriculation by correspondence and then enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program at the University of Alberta. She received her BA in 1984 and her MA in Political Philosophy in 1993, at the age of 60. Her master’s thesis, entitled “The Politics of Religion in Leviathan” was a beautifully written and scholarly work, and a real source of pride for her children, and for Linda herself.  

    After university, she worked for the Alberta Purchasing Management Association (AIPMAC) and was very proud of her accomplishments there, being charged with setting up the brand new provincial office. 

    As she was preparing to move to Gabriola Island in 1997, she was told that any of the 950 members of the association would write her a reference letter, should she need one.

    The west coast and island life always appealed to Linda, and she was happy to return to a more temperate climate and build a home, which she helped design, on Gabriola Island. 

    On Gabriola, Linda was the proprietor and host of Island B & B, a dedicated member of the Gabriola Lions Club and an avid supporter of island arts and culture. 

    We were very proud of her for carving out her own spot on the island and making it look so easy. She always conveyed to her kids that this was their home too. She made many friends on Gabriola through her volunteering efforts and warm demeanor, and loved living there.

    In 2011, she met her beloved Phil, who became a constant companion. They enjoyed regular visits back and forth between Gabriola and Phil’s home in Sidney, sharing a love of literature, poetry and the performing arts. Two years later, shortly after her 80th birthday, Linda suffered a heart attack and a resulting stroke, which meant she could no longer manage on her own, and island life was no longer possible. 

    The last few years were spent with Phil in Sidney, who lovingly cared for her and made sure she was able to attend her scheduled weekly activities, such as the stroke recovery group and Sidney Lions Club meetings, which she enjoyed and always looked forward to. They also regularly attended plays, movies and concerts together until mobility limitations posed too much of a challenge. Phil, your devotion to and love for Linda was very evident and so much appreciated.

    Linda passed away on February 21, 2017 after a very brief illness. Though we miss her more than words can say, her spirit resides in her children Greg (Susan), Liz (Jack), David (Tracy); grandchildren Sophie and Harlan; sister Ruth (Jim); dear friend and soul mate, Phil; and, in the other family members and friends she left behind. 

    We thank you, Linda, for your grace, your generosity, your intelligent reflection, your sense of humour and optimism, and for a life so well lived. May you rest in peace.

    A celebration of Linda’s life will be held on May 6, 2017 at 2 pm at McCall Gardens – Royal Oak at 4665 Falaise Drive, Victoria. To offer condolences, please go to www.mccallgardens.com

  • D. Maureen Neylan

    D. Maureen Neylan

    It is with utmost sorrow that we write to inform you of the death of D. Maureen Neylan who passed away peacefully in her home on Gabriola Island on Feb 15, 2017 at the age of 79. She is survived by her loving son David, and her daughter-in-law Ece Neylan. 

    A longtime resident of Vancouver, Maureen was born in Toronto and raised in Burlington. A graduate of Bishops University, she went on to study social work at the University of Toronto and worked as a social worker, and later director, in the Children’s Aid Society and Children’s Foundation in Vancouver. 

    A passionate sailor in her younger years, Maureen was one of the first women to join the RVYC. Throughout her life she remained committed to charitable work and was active with several organizations, including the Heart & Stroke Foundation, until her later years. An avid reader, Maureen spent her last years researching and writing on early childhood education and rehabilitation and was an outspoken advocate of home schooling. 

    She is a Founding Board Member of the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), one of her proudest legacies. Throughout her life she prioritized her honesty and integrity above all else. 

    In memory of her life, her family hosted a small drop in at Roberts Place this past Friday, to pay tribute to the passing of this colorful soul who has called Gabriola “home” for upwards of a decade.

    In lieu of flowers, the family kindly asks that donations be made to the BCCLA.

  • Michael Albert Spencer

    Michael Albert Spencer

    Oct. 1 1931 - Feb. 5 2017

    On February 5th we said goodbye to Mike;  loving husband, dad, grandad and great-grandad.  

    Although we are deeply saddened  and will miss him dreadfully, his struggles are over and he is at peace.  He leaves behind his treasured wife Marian  whom he always cared for with passion , as well as a large family who adores and admires him. 

    Mike was a man always rich in mind, spirit and action. He loved to help others and especially those less fortunate than himself. 

    Mike never stopped teaching; passing on his knowledge to all of us. He was a master builder of boats and trailers, our house and everything in it, and a life in a new country. As well he was a gardener, sailor, teacher and an avid reader.  

    Mike leaves behind a family legacy of self-reliance, free-thinking, treating everyone with respect helping those in need and judging people only on their character.  Mike has influenced all of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren’s lives immensely and will be greatly admired, missed and loved for years to come. 

    Donations in Mike’s name could be made to the Children’s Variety Club; a charity near and dear to his heart.

    A celebration of life for Mike will be held in the summer.

  • Leslie Szekely

    Leslie Szekely

    Jun. 24, 1941 - Dec. 22, 2016

    It is with great sadness that we say Leslie Szekely passed away on December 22, 2016. Lovingly remembered and deeply missed by his wife Eileen, daughter Sue (Rob), son Bill (Kari), daughter Sandy (Andy), his nine (almost ten) grandchildren and his brother Alex (Ilonka).

    Les was born on June 24, 1941, in Hungary and he bravely left to come to Canada in 1956, learning English and making a career in industrial dry cleaning. He moved to Gabriola Island from Vancouver with his family in 1981 but continued to commute to Vancouver, and later Victoria, for his work while his wife and kids stayed on the island that he so loved. He spent many hours on those ferries, playing crib with the group he met on there. He went to Toronto for two years but the island was in his heart and when he retired in 1999, Les and Eileen moved back to Gabriola Island yet again. Les spent his retirement years doing the things he enjoyed—gardening, renovating their house, cooking and spending time with his family.

    There will be a service on January 21, 2017, at the United Church at 2:00 p.m. at 1614 - 184 Street in Surrey with a gathering after at his daughter’s home to celebrate his amazing life.

    In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

  • Carol Boyce

    Carol Boyce

    1941 - 2016

    Carol died peacefully on Thursday, December 29, 2016 surrounded by her family. They spent her last days together sharing memories, laughs and hugs. Even though the end came more quickly than anyone could have imagined, Carol was so happy and thankful to be with her son Chris, his wife Suzanne and their children Theo and Tate and her daughter Sara, her husband Curtis and their children Malcolm and Samuel. 

    Carol believed passionately that people and the relationships that you create with them are the most important thing in life. She lived this through her many years as a social worker, her numerous lifelong friendships, the new friends that made Gabriola her home and her never ending love for her family. 

    Carol spent her early years in Toronto with her older brother Richard and her parents Arol and Phyllis McElwain. She moved to Winnipeg when she was 11 and it became her home for many years. She met her husband Stewart while they were both studying social work at the University of Manitoba. After raising their children in Winnipeg, Carol and Stewart were ready for a new adventure and in 1997 they moved to Gabriola Island, BC. They both felt they had found their perfect home, so much that Carol stayed when Stewart passed away in 2006. 

    Carol’s passion for learning led her on many adventures; she traveled the world, took photographs everywhere she went and read books voraciously, almost always with multiple books on the go at once. She and her daughter Sara spent as much time as they could together, especially enjoying long visits with her and her boys every summer on Gabriola. Last summer she took Theo, her ten year old grandchild, on a cruise to Alaska. Theo was just old enough and Grandma had just enough time left; it was an experience that meant the world to both of them. 

    A celebration of Carol’s life will be held on Gabriola this summer. If friends wish, donations in her memory can be made to the Victoria Hospital Foundation in Winnipeg or the Gabriola Senior Citizens Association.

    At the end, Carol truly felt at peace and that she had lived a good life filled with purpose and love. She will live on in our hearts, reminding us how important it is that we all try to make the world a better place, in little ways, every single day.