September 25, 1943 – May 27, 2021
Don’s early years were spent in the Similkameen and Cariboo regions of British Columbia, as his father – newly returned from World War II – began operating automotive service stations, first in Princeton and later in Quesnel. Don and his brother Bob were put to work at the gas pumps and his mother, Margaret, kept the home fires burning (sometimes around the clock, as Don recalled many cold winters spent in post-war housing).
These early years imparted a can-do attitude and knack for problem solving to both boys. Good grades and participation in many sports led Don to pursue a Bachelor of Education at the University of British Columbia.
He found work in the local garages and boarded in nearby Ladner, where he met his future wife Elizabeth, the daughter of a pioneering family. Don loved to tell stories of work and life during this time.
Don and Elizabeth made the move to Kelowna in 1974, where he began his Kelowna teaching career at Belgo Elementary. Don set about building a home for his family, which now included sons Derek and Mark, on the Rutland bench with a tremendous view of Kelowna over the apple orchards.
Don had a very hands-on approach to parenting. He lent his tutelage to the boys’ many projects in the home workshop, and his mechanical abilities enabled family trips in the truck and camper all around BC.
A well-respected and passionate educator, Don had a gentle and patient way of enabling his students at Rutland Senior Secondary to problem-solve and think creatively about math. Supporting colleagues and friends came naturally to him, and he spent several years as a teacher representative in local and provincial union negotiations, an experience that satisfied his long-held dream to pursue a career in law.
Don’s patience, people skills, and down-to-earth approach helped him communicate the complex negotiations issues to the teachers of SD23. His natural curiosity led to a Masters degree from the University of Victoria and a year-long teaching exchange to McLean, New South Wales, Australia, where a number of lifelong friendships were formed.
Don understood how precious and short life can be. He chose to retire early while he was in excellent health, channeling his energies into a post-retirement career of skiing and managing the Monashee Inn at Big White, where the family had owned a unit for years. Don loved to ski and found his true bliss on the slopes of Big White.
He was a ski partner to many on the mountain, including his sons, daughter’s in-law and grandchildren, who thrilled at skiing with Grampa. He loved a good powder day and had a quick answer to any top-of-chair debate about which way to go: “Down!” he would say with a laugh and smile.
In his late 60s and early 70s, when many would be slowing down, Don started backcountry skiing and reveled in the pursuit of powder in untouched places with good friends. After the snow melted, this camaraderie extended to the golf course, coffee groups, and drives in the vintage Triumph TR6 that Don had restored.
In his final years, as memory and abilities faded, Elizabeth was a steadfast and devoted caregiver to Don. Those many years of Don living life to the fullest, along with his constant cheerful disposition, were a source of comfort to his family and friends during difficult times.
Don passed away peacefully with Elizabeth, his wife of 54 years, at his side. He is survived by her, sons Derek (Jane), Mark (Kristi), grandchildren Juliet, Elise, Simon, Trace, Carson, brother Bob (Pam) and nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents Stanley and Margaret.
The family would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to the staff at Spring Valley care home and the friends and family who supported both Don and Elizabeth over the last number of years.
Condolences may be offered through www.everdenrust.com
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