Obituaries

  • Helmut Nowatzki

    Helmut Nowatzki

    July 13, 1935 - Aug. 4, 2013

    Growing up in WWII Germany, the eldest of eight children, Helmut experienced hard times. As a young man, he left his homeland to try for a new life in Canada. He landed in Montreal by passenger ship in 1956 and began working as a labourer.

    He soon met his future wife Margaret in Montreal, where they married, settled and had their two girls, Marcella and Evelyn. Helmut then became an accomplished carpenter.  

    His family lived in many rural places in Canada and wherever they went, Helmut and Margaret transformed the earth into a lush landscape with a fully sustaining garden. Helmut was a strong believer in self-sufficiency, gardening being one of the ways toward this. Growing his own food was also his love, as well as his small act of subversion. 

    He was very proud of this green thumb. Anyone visiting would get a tour of the garden and a generous helping to the fruits of his labour. He also loved to collect rocks and seaweed for the garden, anything to beautify his piece of paradise.

    Helmut had a strong work ethic, but he also enjoyed relaxing, admiring his flower garden, going for walks and riding his bicycle. He inspired his children and grandchildren to work hard but also to take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

    Helmut loved talking politics, the state of the planet and could pick facts and figures out of his hat; he had definite opinions on many topics.

    Honouring the wishes of his wife to be closer to family, Helmut and Margaret eventually moved to Gabriola Island. Closeness to family gave him comfort.

    His last day was spent preparing food for the annual appreciation day party, which he made a tradition of, hosted for family and friends. He died suddenly the next day while riding his bicycle along his favourite route to Berry Point.

    Many thanks to the first responders. The family truly appreciates your efforts and compassion.

    He is missed by Evelyn and Claude, Sara, Lui, Allie and Jason, Alex, Destiny and great-granddaughter, Aiyanna, Marcella, Michael and Ferryn and great friends Larry and Steve.

  • Thomas Edward Harrison

    March 13, 1931 - July 19, 2013

    Tom passed away in Nanaimo General Hospital after suffering a stroke the week before.

    He was a long time resident of Gabriola Island and a past reisdent of Burnaby, BC.

    He is survived by 1 son, 3 daughters, 8 grandkids and 6 great-grandkids. He will be sadly missed.

    RIP Dad.

  • Richard W. Jordan

    Richard W. Jordan

    August 9, 1935 to August 1, 2013

    After a lengthy illness, Dick passed away peacefully at the Nanaimo Seniors’ Village Residence where he had received compassionate and loving care.

    He is survived by his wife, Patricia; his brother, Curtis (Arlane) Jordan; nieces, Kristan (Dan) Johnson, Michelle (Chris) Roper, Sheri (Mike) Griffin, Lisa Mulzet, Debra Mulzet, Pamela (John) Evans, and Patricia (Andrew) Bacon; and 11 great nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Bonita (Harold) Mulzet in Coquitlam.

    Dick spent his early career years in the general insurance business in Vancouver, then moved to the Caribou to operate a resort and to work for the Caribou Chilcotin School District in the transportation division. After retirement in 1996 he returned permanently to Gabriola where he loved to go salmon fishing in his Double Eagle boat. As his illness progressed he realized that his fishing days were over and so donated his beloved tackle to a local garage sale in April 2008 that was raising money for the construction of our new medical clinic. Some lucky local fellow was most fortunate that day!

    Dick is sadly missed by his wife and family.

    A family gathering to celebrate his life will be held at a later date. Donations in Richard’s memory may be made to the S.P.C.A.

  • Carol Elizabeth Thompson

    May 29, 1942 - July 10, 2013

    It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Gabriolan Carol, 71, life partner and soul mate of Avis O’Leary.

    Carol, formerly of Poplar St., New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, was the daughter of the late Cecil and Roberta Lewis.

    She is survived by her sisters and brothers, Sheila MacDonald, Toronto; Howard (Jenny) Thompson, Alberta; Keith (Joan) Lewis, Chance Harbour, NS; Kaye (Ken) Jarvis, Lower Sackville, NS; Doreen (Merle) Thomson, Bedford, NS; Wendy Lewis (Brian Stoen), Chance Harbour; and numerous nieces and nephews.

    Special thanks to Avis and all of Carol’s friends on Gabriola who gave her such loving care and comfort.

    Cremation has taken place. Her memorial will be held in September in New Glasgow. Donations in her name can be made to the Hospice Society.

    The rocks of the coast are the foundation of our family. The waves of the ocean on the shore will never wear away our memories of you. You will always be loved, remembered and missed by your sisters and brothers. We love you, Carol!

  • Judith Lynn Jordan (Colclough)

    July 23, 1954 - July 9, 2013

    Lynn passed away peacefully at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital on Tuesday, July 9 surrounded by family and friends. Predeceased by her parents, Mavis and Bill Colclough, Lynn is survived by her husband, Jeremy Lyttle; sister, Sandy, and brother, Bob (Julie); sons, Doug (Karen) and Kelly (Diana); grandchildren, Mathus, Keanna and Nickolas; uncle, Glen (Marg); and many cousins, nieces and nephews. 

    Born in Haney, B.C. on July 23, 1954 Lynn enjoyed her early childhood in the Fraser Valley and was especially fond of summer camping trips to Birch Bay. After her family moved to Nanaimo in 1965 Lynn’s passion soon became sports where she excelled in track and field, her horses, starting with mild-mannered Katie and then her beloved and spirited Taif and later her 1959 MGA sports car. 

    In 1978 Lynn met and later married Keith Jordan, and they had two wonderful boys, Doug and Kelly, who were from that point on her pride and joy. She enjoyed cooking, music, gardening and most of all family and friends. 

    With a unique sense of humour Lynn could be quite crafty when it came to getting things her way. If she wrinkled her brow and planted her hands firmly on her hips you knew you were in trouble. She had a passion for life and adventures, and would often say afterwards that “Captain Morgan was involved in that one.” 

    Lynn endured cancer off and on throughout her adult life. Admired by all for her strength she never complained nor let it get in the way of living or enjoying life. Over the years Lynn was involved in many events to raise money for cancer research. In lieu of flowers or other gifts donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, or the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital Foundation. A celebration of Lynn’s life will be held at Departure Bay on Saturday, Aug. 10, between noon and 3 

  • Wild Iris Dragonwoman

    Wild Iris Dragonwoman

    Sept. 1, 1953 - June 15, 2013

    Iris died peacefully at home on Gabriola and is on her way to “the light.” Iris is lovingly remembered by her father, Vic Gallagher; nephew, Ryan; his wife, Jean and their three children; and many friends who will miss her very much.

    Her name came to her under hypnotherapy. She wanted to honour her passion for the mystical dragon, and said, “It’s also because I’m a wild woman.” 

    Iris had many occupations; she left home at about 15, lived and worked at the Vancouver race track taking care of horses, was ‘The Fast Pink Lady’ courier service in Vancouver, worked several seasons at a resort in the Caribou, went into business as a horse logger, splitting and selling cedar shakes with female tracking pioneer Betty Frank.

    Iris studied many facets of spiritual healing: Tarot, Native Medicine, Wicca, drumming ceremonies, healing circles, the Bhagavad Gita and more. She sometimes used her alter ego, Yo-Yo the clown, to foster healing through laughter. Yo-Yo appeared at schools, community festivals and even delivered pizza along with her sidekick, Squiggy, the seeing-eye cucumber.

    For about eight years she co-owned a 14-acre farm in Coombs, which served as a healing retreat for women.

    Iris was an activist and prolific writer on a variety of issues. Articles included titles such as, “Homophobia has to come to an end,” “Logging possible without destruction,” “Preserve the marsh,” “Life’s unsung heroes include caregivers” and “Hakomi: Psychiatry of the future.”

    She also organized the first topless protest and walked through downtown Parksville to bring awareness to equal rights.

    Wild “I” was so much more than most people saw ... loving, fun, intelligent, a fighter for the underdog and she overcame more obstacles in her life than most of us could imagine. 

    A memorial will be announced, and as she would say, Namaste, Blessed Be.

  • Geraldine Donnelly (Mulberry)

    Geraldine Donnelly (Mulberry)

    Sept. 20, 1932 – June 15, 2013

    Geraldine passed away peacefully in her 81st year at Stanford Care Campus in Parksville, B.C.with family by her side. Born in Revelsoke BC to Gerald and Jeanne (Geater) Mulberry. She was the younger of two girls. She grew up in Penticton with Sue, her older sister until after the war. Geraldine and Sue were joined later by three half-sisters, Judy, Joanne and Helen. After growing up in Penticton, Geraldine moved to Vancouver to attend Nursing training. It was there that she met and married Harold Donnelly. They then began a life-long love affair that included seven children and a lifetime of caring and nurturing. For many years they lived in rural Fraser Valley with some time in Churchill Manitoba during Harold’s Navy service. Since the early 70’s Gabriola Island was their home where they built a beautiful place to live and enjoy life. Island adventures included helping neighbours, gardening, fishing, boating, log salvaging and many large family gatherings. Providing a loving healthy home for the family was a priority for Geraldine. She grew gardens to feed the family and kept the children’s hands busy, growing, harvesting and canning. Cooking was something she loved to do, good food and having plenty for her large family was a joy to her. Her passion was raising a family that was compassionate, caring and wasn’t afraid of work. She taught independence and teamwork, important values that have shaped the lives of her children and her children’s children. For Geraldine, life was an adventure built on imagination, warmth, laughter and insight. Those of us who knew her loved her and will continue to hold her close to our heart. She will be missed. Geraldine was very thankful and appreciative of the excellent care and friendship of the staff of Stanford Care Campus in Parksville during the last two years. They ensured her time there was enjoyable and restful. The entire family joins her in expressing our sincere thanks for your warm, thoughtful and professional care. Geraldine is survived by her three half-sisters, Judy, Joanne and Helen and by her loving and devoted children Cindy (Bob), Harold (Peggy), Jim (Linda), Mike (Pam), Missy (Ken), Mary Jane, Guy (Christine) and her grandchildren, Shelley, Gerry Ellen, Laurie, Chris, Jordon, Aaron, Cleary, Nick, Marissa, Eric, Alex and Danielle and her nine great grandchildren. A family service was held on Sunday June 23rd. 

  • Margaret Elizabeth (Betty) Tait

    Margaret Elizabeth (Betty) Tait

    1925 - 2013

    A Gabriola icon passed away peacefully on May 30 at the Nanaimo Palliative Care Unit, surrounded by her seven children and the most compassionate group of nurses we have ever known.

    Most of you would have known her as Betty the Taxi Lady.

    Betty was born in Milden, Saskatchewan on May 22, 1925.

    She, along with three brothers, Morris, Don and Glenn; were raised by their parents, Alf and Jessy McWatters, in the Beaton District of northern Saskatchewan. This was a time of hard living, with bitterly cold winters, hot dry summers and of course the war. Standing strong through it all Betty learned many skills she would later put to good use raising her own seven children, Gwen, Judy, Mike, Sharon, Colleen, Jack and Della.

    After many years of scratching a living on the unforgiving lands, watching her family grow and leave the nest, Betty and her husband, Dave, with Jack and Della pulled up stakes and moved to Gabriola.

    The Tait family lived for a time in a tent on five beautiful acres of land they had purchased from the McCollums. Some time later they upgraded to a small trailer. Betty worked tirelessly on building the legendary A-Frame house from logs cut from the property to provide a larger, warmer and drier accommodation for her family. And so the Tait saga began.

    For 22 years Betty ran the Gabriola Cab Company. Mike and Della became drivers in their own time as well. Betty took on the mail run and started a garbage business. 

    With Della and Jack she provided essential services to the people of Gabriola making many friends along the way.

    You could find Betty taking a break once in a while with her love of music and her saxophone, playing at the fire hall or a restaurant, or just in the comfort of her home, accompanied by Jack on the drums and Mike on the guitar, with many an onlooker dancing the night away.

    Betty’s favourite pastime was carpentry. Given a project, she would take it on with such passionate attention to detail second to none. Beautiful swings, chairs, merry-go-rounds and Ferris wheels adorn her property as well as properties of friends and family all over the world.

    Betty continued to drive the people of Gabriola to and fro with Della always at the ready to take a shift – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Together with help from the Lions Club she enjoyed a once-a-week run with her senior friends taking them off the ferry for their Nanaimo shopping trip. Often this was the only time she would get to chat it up and learn all the goings on.

    Betty would never leave a child on the road in bad weather or deny anyone who needed a ride but did not have the funds to pay. In her later years her compassion for the people of Gabriola carried on with Della taking on more and more of the driving.

    Betty allowed herself time to travel the world with family and gave so much of herself to grandchildren and great-grandchildren, each of whom will be better people because of it.

    The art of bridge and scrabble was no stranger to this lady; she played with such passion. In the care of her daughter, Judy, during the past five years, she enjoyed getting together with the scrabble players at the Rollo Centre.

    Betty enjoyed the brilliant care she received from the Home Care Support team as well as a constant pillar of strength from her brother Glenn McWatters (who will be 90 in July) and her family that have stood by her through the years. God bless them all.

    A celebration of life was held in Betty’s name at the South End Hall on Wednesday, June 5, 2013.

    The story of Betty Tait will never end in the hearts of all who knew her. God bless and God’s speed.

  • Howard Lee Colston, Sr.

    Howard Lee Colston, Sr.

    Feb. 5, 1928 - June 8, 2013

    Heaven has a new angel.

    Howard Lee Colston passed away peacefully on June 8, 2013 at the age of 85 with his daughter, Aurea, and wife, Olga, next to him.

    Howard will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Olga of Gabriola; children, Aurea (James) of High Point, North Carolina; Howard, Jr. (Colleen) of Edmonds, Washington; Richard (Carmen) of Sacramento, California; Bruce (Sherri) of Sacramento, California; Tyron (Noriko) of Sacramento, California; stepdaughter, Michelle Larsen (Doug) of Maple Ridge; siblings Ann Simmons (Thomas III) of Jamestown, North Carolina; Earl Colston (Sarah) of Sunrise, Florida; and 12 grandchildren and 2 great-grandsons.

    Howard was born in Albemarle, North Carolina, on Feb. 5, 1928. He proudly served his country and lived in Japan and Hawaii during his 22 years of service with the US Navy, US Army and retired from the US Air Force. Howard went on to work for the US Postal Service in Davis, California, where he met many wonderful, life-long friends along his postal route.

    Howard permanently immigrated to his beloved Gabriola in 2003, and called the island his “Heaven on Earth.”

    Howard was a friend to all and had a natural gift of being able to touch those who knew him with his beautiful spirit and gentle soul. He was a deeply kind and generous man who always had time to lend a helping hand, and could brighten one’s day simply with his warm smile. He loved to garden, bake amazing peach cheesecakes to share with friends, and spend time out on the ocean. Most of all, he loved to spend time with his family, children, grandchildren and all of his many friends.

    Howard will be dearly missed, but always close in our hearts.

    In lieu of flowers or gifts, please donate to the Alzheimer’s Society of BC.

  • David Alec Elliott

    David Alec Elliott

    1943 - 2013

    David Elliott passed away peacefully in Nanaimo on May 25, surrounded by his two sons, Bryn and Frazer, and his daughter-in-law, Janina. 

    A private family service will be held later.