Year in Review: Who we lost in the Cowichan Valley 2018

Legendary B.C. sports writer Jim Taylor.
Legendary B.C. sports writer Jim Taylor.
Former Cowichan Theatre director Roger Sparkes.
Kaatza Art Group founding member Carol Rettig.
Maple Bay Fire Department’s Ian Milne.
Sahtlam Fire Department’s Ronald Taylor.
Cowichan beekeeper Blaine Hardie.
Former Cowichan Valley Citizen publisher Shirley Skolos.
Cowichan Valley musician Peter Yelland.
Cowichan Valley seniors advocate Joan Hayden-Luck.
Popular Cowichan Valley teacher and field hockey coach Jennifer Budding.

Some were young, some were elderly, some had seen and done more than we’ll ever know, and some, we all thought, had so much life left to live. This is not comprehensive by any means but it’s a list of some of the good ones we lost in 2019:


Jan. 7 – Jim Taylor, 82.

A legendary Canadian sports writer who entertained fans for more than 60 years via the Victoria Times Colonist and Vancouver Sun and Province. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1989, the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. He received the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jack Webster Foundation in 2010. Taylor retired to Shawnigan Lake.

READ MORE: Celebrated sports writer Jim Taylor dies

Jan. 12 – Roger Gordon Sparkes, 77.

The former Theatre Director of the Cowichan Community Centre helped to make the facility a key presenter of the performing arts in western Canada. Roger established the ‘Friends of the Theatre Society’ to foster and support the performing arts in the Cowichan Valley. He was active on many volunteer boards such as the BC Touring Council, Canadian Association of Performing Arts (CAPA/COA) and his personal favourite, the Duncan Fringe Festival Society.

READ MORE: Roger Gordon Sparkes’s obituary


March 1 – Elsie Carolyn “Carol” Rettig, 86. Rettig began painting in 1966 and in 1970 she was a founding member of the Kaatza Art Group. She was the group’s first president. She also joined the Crofton Art Group in 1971. She became each group’s longest standing member and was always there to help.

READ MORE: Elsie Carolyn “Carol Rettig’s obituary


May 1 – Ian D. S. Milne – A 34-year member of Maple Bay Fire Department, longtime member of CeeVacs, member of Maple Bay Community Association, Shriners and held a brief stint as a councillor for the Municipality of North Cowichan.

READ MORE: Ian D.S. Milne’s obituary


Aug. 14 – Ronald Gordon Taylor, 91. Ron’s biggest legacy was his dedication and contribution to the local volunteer fire department in Sahtlam. Captain Gadget, as he was fondly known to all the firefighters in the Sahtlam Volunteer Fire Department, was one of the founding members of the department in 1969 along with his brother Alan and nine others in the area.

Through all his years in the department, he always declined the opportunity to be fire chief, preferring to remain in his comfort zone behind the scenes, doing his job and serving the community, however, he was honoured for 50 years of serving the Sahtlam community and granted the title of Honourary Fire Chief.

READ MORE: Ronald Gordon Taylor’s obituary

Aug. 15 – Blaine Hardie, 73. Hardie was an icon in the local and provincial beekeeping world, owning and operating the Cowichan Valley’s Hardie Honey for more than 23 years before he and his wife Jan retired last year. Hardie first started honeybee farming almost 40 years ago as a hobby after his father and grandfather introduced him to the business, but decided to go at it full time in 1996 when he opened Hardie Honey, which produces up to 24,000 pounds of honey a year. Over the years, he served as president of the Cowichan Beekeepers Society and the B.C. Honey Producers Association and stayed very involved in the organizations and the industry throughout his career.

Aug. 21 – Shirley Skolos – The Cowichan Valley Citizen lost a great friend and supporter on Aug. 21 when former publisher Shirley Skolos succumbed after a battle with cancer. Skolos was part of the team from the beginning, starting work May 25, 1986 and when she was at the helm as publisher the Cowichan Valley Citizen won the Ma Murray Award as the best community newspaper in B.C. in the ‘open’ category (circulation 25,000 and up). Under her guidance, the Citizen’s advertising department took pretty much the entire Cowichan Valley real estate advertising market away from its competitor. It also snagged most of the car dealers and grocery stores and then hung on to them, perhaps the biggest challenge to any small-town publisher.

READ MORE: Shirley Skolos, former Citizen publisher, dies after battle with cancer


Sept. 2 – Peter Yelland, 85. Malcolm “Peter” Yelland left a real musical legacy in the Cowichan Valley. He was a music teacher, tenor soloist and director of several choirs, in addition to sitting on boards for the Duncan Music Club, Cowichan Musical Society and South Island Musical Theatre Society, serving as principal organizer of Cowichan Chorofest, and represented the Cowichan Valley at the BC Choral Federation. Yelland also received the City of Duncan’s 2017 Perpetual Arts Trophy.

READ MORE: Malcolm “Peter” Yelland’s obituary


Nov. 15 – Joan Hayden-Luck, 86. Joan worked tirelessly at the Cowichan Lodge running activities for the seniors and in the end fought vigorously to keep it open. Volunteering came naturally to Joan and she spent countless hours again at the Cowichan Lodge leading the Auxiliary in their work.

READ MORE: Joan Hayden-Luck’s obituary


Dec. 8 Jennifer Joanna Budding, 49. Beloved coach and Cowichan Secondary teacher who left an indelible mark on the Cowichan athletic community, particularly in field hockey. Braun coached the Cowichan Secondary Thunderbirds to 15 consecutive Island titles and seven provincial championships and helped mould hundreds of young athletes into strong young community-minded citizens.

READ MORE: Jennifer Joanna Budding’s obituary

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