July 15, 2020
Betty celebrated her 90th birthday on July 3, 2020 and died at peace in her home on July 15, 2020 in Courtenay, BC, surrounded by family members. She was predeceased by her brother Fraser (1974), her father Thomas (1996) and her mother Bessie (2000). She is survived by her husband Clifford, her son Richard, her daughter Barbara (Michael), extended family members Donna and Martin Montgomery, grandsons Alasdair (Jodi) and Campbell (Jena), her sister Barbara McKechnie, her nephew Tim McKechnie (Michelle) and her niece Shelley Kachmar.
Betty was born July 3, 1930 in Regina, SK, and spent much of her childhood with her homesteading family in northern Saskatchewan. When her father departed for World War II she and her siblings were taken in 1940 by their mother to Chilliwack, BC, until the war ended in 1945, after which they returned to Saskatchewan. She left home the following year to begin working in Saskatoon at the tuberculosis hospital and after a couple of years moved to Fort William, ON, where she worked as a nurse aide in the tuberculosis hospital there, an experience that touched her greatly. Later she moved for a change of work to the isolated town of Marathon, ON, on the north shore of Lake Superior, where she met and married (1954) Cliff, her loving spouse for 66 years of marriage. With two young children by 1964, they decided to make a new life on Vancouver Island. Once settled there, they raised their children in Duncan, BC until moving to MacKenzie, BC, in 1979 where they lived until Cliff’s retirement in 1995. At that point they returned to Vancouver Island, where they lived mainly in Duncan, until moving in 2013 to Courtenay in order to live closer to family.
Betty and Cliff were gentle and respectful together, and constantly amusing one another. They thrived in family life and in the richness of the many friendships they forged – modeling a way of living that inspired their children, centered on social connectedness (and quite a lot of dancing), and not dependent on great material wealth. Betty was a gifted, largely self-taught chef, who explored several diverse culinary traditions and delighted her family and friends with her creative and expertly planned dinners. She was also very talented at sewing, knitting and crocheting, and produced many beautiful pieces of clothing for herself and her loved ones over the years. She had a wonderful sense of style, and she knew how to wear a hat well. Her talents were not restricted to the domestic realm: she enthusiastically joined Cliff in curling, golfing, salmon fishing and prawning – the latter best enjoyed from their own boat.
Having had limited educational opportunities in her own youth, Betty was an attentive advocate for her own children, always supportive (never demanding) and immensely proud of her kids’ accomplishments. Her unmistakable intelligence was reflected in her curiosity and her openness to change. There was no fear of new technology – particularly if it was required to keep in touch with loved ones. She was never one to dwell on the negative and her resilience was a defining characteristic. She had breast cancer at 38, and told us that she came to see her survival as the greatest – and only – gift she needed. Betty typically avoided being the center of attention, but people could sense her accepting nature and her personal warmth and they were drawn to her.
Betty requested cremation but did not want a service; she has entrusted her ashes to her children. We will cherish our memories of her, and we know we are not alone. We wish to acknowledge the exemplary care of Dr. Sharmeen Mazaheri.