Corwin Sloan Giesbrecht
December 18, 1972 - October 31, 2003
The raven's wings dip in the sky like paddles in the hands of the man in a kayak. Feathered wings and wooden tips paddling each of them forward in a long smooth glide. The raven watches the ground, detects the smallest detail down below. The kayaker feels at one with the largest of things: ocean, shore and horizon, mountain, the whole sky. Cory Giesbrecht had the eyes of both.
He was born on December 18, 1972, to Susan & Ben Giesbrecht, after a sixteen hour long labour. Ben had gone home sometime after midnight for a nap, was woken at seven that morning by a call from Susan saying, "you have a son". As planned for a boy, they named him Corwin Sloan Giesbrecht. They liked the sound of the name. But if they had known the names' meanings, no doubt they would have liked it even more, for Corwin means "Friend of the heart"; and Sloan, "Warrior". They called him Cory, which means, "Raven".
At home, Dion, big brother of eighteen months, waited unhappily at the neighbour's house for his family's return. At first, the brothers shared a bedroom next to their parents'; when that no longer worked, Dion was bumped across the hall to his own.
Dion's room was consistently the tidier one. His toys outlasted Cory's, and Lego constructions were less elaborate. But when Dad's tools went missing, it was Cory's name that was called. Cory remained "tidiness-challenged" his whole life, the true mark of an artistic type.
Cory lived in his own time. Mother Susan remembers how he turned and somersaulted inside her before finally arriving in this world with the doctor's assistance. "He was independent before he was born, and ever since," recalls his father. When he wanted to go, he went. He disliked tagging along. "Dion, we got to look for Cory," was an oft-heard phrase in the Giesbrecht household. And where had he gone? To the neighbour's to visit, or racing down the road on his small red bike. Once he "kissed the back bumper" of a parked car and required stitches on his face. Another time, he showed up at the front door when he ought to have been in kindergarten. While a neighbour looked after Cory, his mom went to school to investigate. They'd had a substitute teacher that day and the students had made clay sculptures; a classmate had crushed Cory's. Devastated, he walked home alone. The fifteen minute walk was a long one for a boy with short legs. But he was determined.
Cory had a unique sense of time. In later years, he said he didn't need a watch; the only jewellery he wore was his wedding ring. But rarely was he late for an appointment. And he filled his time with more than most in a long life span.
Cory's childhood was filled with play. He had a huge imagination, and loved designing things, drawing, painting and, as a teen, took up photography. He developed his own black & white films in the basement. He liked working with shades and textures. He had a raven's eye.
It seemed he could never acquire enough Lego, there was always another space ship he wanted to build. Ones he read about in the science fiction or fantasy books he devoured as easily as anything chocolate! He liked mysteries, too, like the Hardy Boys. When he'd read all his school library books, he tackled the stacks at the Surrey Public Library; when he'd finished those, he visited the Guilford Library. He was always in search of new books.
Climbing trees, playing T-ball & baseball also took up a lot of his time. His favourite clothes in those days were sweat pants and a long-sleeved shirt. In a photo taken in 1978, he stands in the second row of the T-Ball Expos, Dion in the front. Their parents weren't their only fans. "How come those people are at every game?" their team-mates asked, pointing at the sidelines, at Uncle Henry and Auntie Lena. The best fans! For every home run, their uncle gave the boys a dollar. With that, they'd stop on the way home either at Dairy Queen for a banana split, or Robin's Donuts, where Cory always ordered a crème-filled donut. In later life, he enjoyed the same at the more refined Tim Horton's, and added a maple glazed.
There was a time when the brothers, like all brothers close in age, fought a lot. But even so, the two shared one great secret. Every year, before Christmas, they'd unwrap the gifts under the tree for a sneak preview. Then rewrap them. They also visited the hiding spots of those their mother hadn't wrapped. So good were they at re-wrapping, especially Dion the more organized one, their parents never knew what they'd done until, as adults, they confessed.
Sometime around the age of nine, Cory invited Jesus into his heart. His parents and brother remember a significant shift in his personality. The terrible fights stopped. He was more easy-going. There was a new calmness to his life.
Family was always important. One Christmas fourteen relatives from Manitoba stayed with them for ten days. That was when Cory bonded with his cousins Dana and Chris Friesen, and Jeff and Kim Peters; he stayed in touch with them for the rest of his life, by letter, phone, visits to Manitoba, and email.
Cory fulfilled his name; he was a "friend of the heart". Not only to his cousins, but also to his friends. In Jr. High, he became one of a group of five: Joe, Terry, Gay, and Chris. He remained loyal to Joe and Gay. He cherished friendships, valued loyalty and trust. Did not enter into friendships with those who didn't exemplify what he himself practiced-the Golden Rule of "Do unto others".
Camping every summer was also a significant part of Cory's early years. The family went to Adams Lake, Barkerville, and through the prairies to Manitoba in their camper trailer. Those were such happy times!
At fifteen, Cory became an employee of McDonald's, joined the cleaning and kitchen crew. Next it was Canadian Tire, where he acquired yet another group of life-long friends, friends who shared his love for diving, skiing, and kayaking. He made friends wherever he went. And kept them for life.
At 16, Cory's father made the "best investment ever"; he enrolled Cory in Young Driver's. Then gave him his first vehicle, an old red van. Ben taught his sons how to fix engines, to their benefit, because, like Cory's childhood toys, "none of them lasted very long". The most notorious car, a late 70's Honda Civic, went through three engines. When it died during a trip to Manitoba in 1994, Cory simply removed the plates, stereo, and took the bus home. One of his favourite expressions was "just deal with it". He did that beautifully. As warriors do.
At the age of 16, Cory was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. He entered the battleground of that disease with an uncommon grace. He took the prescribed medications, didn't complain, and refused to be defined by his illness. All he wanted was to be normal. He fought with a vengeance, not to cure the disease, but to live every moment of his life. Often, without having shared with anyone the pain he'd endured alone. "It's not the first time, and it won't be the last," he said after a three day episode of pain kept him home from work. He once told his brother he didn't think he'd live to see twenty-five.
In time, he came to understand that stress and anger made his condition worse, and learned to verbalize it, but discreetly. His friend Noelle was the one he turned to.
They met in Kwantlen College in an Organic Chemistry Class. She remembers him saying, "Want a kiss?" and when she hesitated, he stretched out his hand, a Hershey's Kiss in the palm. They became close friends. Occasionally their mutual friends wondered if Cory had asked her out yet and, surprised, she said no. She did not think their life goals were a match, and determined to remain friends only. Their paths parted and crossed over the next years as they worked on their education, both enrolled in a co-operative work-study science program at SFU.
The thing about Cory Giesbrecht that Noelle cherished so dearly during those "friendship" years, was the safety she felt with him. Although he engaged regularly in high risk sports such as scuba diving and down-hill skiing, and tried many others, like skydiving, he was always safety-conscious. When he realized downhill skiing could hurt his knees, he turned to cross-country skiing.
Kayaking was a challenge he could do alone. It fed his soul. In a kayak, he could fly through life swiftly, silently -- like a raven. Whereas others stored their kayaks in wintertime, Cory ventured out into the cold. When the water was flat and calm it was, for him, the "best time". He kayaked around the Gulf Islands, the Broken Group Islands, and Barclay Sound. The ideal day for Cory was a day of calm water and sunshine.
Cory's life was short, but he lived it wide. Photography was one of his many passions. His favourite model was Noelle. He did almost anything for the perfect photo. Even before the wedding, he took great care to find the perfect spot for photographs. It had to be near water.
His taste in music was eclectic, from classical to hard rock, to jazz. Opera and country music were not found among his collection, but he did attend a ballet once. And declared, after reading the program at intermission, that it even made sense!
Cory & Noelle's friendship blossomed into courtship almost accidentally. When someone accused Noelle of being "intimidating" she decided to check with her friend Cory. Was stunned when he agreed to that assessment of her. She asked for evidence. Cory confessed he'd wanted to ask her out on a date for a long time but was too intimidated. After taking dance classes together, he confessed he'd be jealous of her next boyfriend. She replied that he didn't have to be. "Why?" he asked, confused. "Because he could be you," she said. And with that, they shared their first kiss. She was 27, he was 26. She remembers how he trembled. How much she enjoyed it, far more than a Hershey's Kiss! He told her later that when they parted that night, he'd done cartwheels! And thus friendship became courtship and they entered the new Millennium as a couple.
In November 2001, Cory proposed. In June, 2002, Cory and Noelle were married at Fantasy Gardens in Richmond. Pictures don't lie, and their wedding photos reveal the epitome of a happy couple-they appear as playful companions, lovers and friends. The best kind of couple.
They honeymooned in Greece. And Noelle's things filled the space Cory's kayak-in-process had taken.
In 2001, Cory had begun building a cedar strip kayak in the living room of his apartment. His roommate had moved out and he found an apartment that was the perfect place to build a kayak. It would take the place of the time spent before his roommate's television and VCR. The kayak was eighteen and a half feet long, the room twenty-two feet long. Shortly before the wedding, he moved the kayak to his parents' and found a new home for him and Noelle to move into.
Combining their possessions and lives was as challenging as building a kayak. It was one step at a time, all the way. Strip by cedar strip, the kayak evolved. Day by day, the marriage found its intended order and form. Cory worked on the rough edges of both. "Have I told you lately, that I love you?" he played the Van Morrison song for her. In the last weeks of his life, he couldn't say it often enough.
The kayak was five hours from completion when Cory passed away on October 31, 2003. And, likewise, the couple's journey was interrupted, mid-stream.
Like all good warriors, Cory knew death was inevitable. He understood his body had limits, particularly after all those years of ulcerative colitis, which, in the end, turned cancerous. He understood the biology of cells. Warriors are trained not to question. Still, it was too soon. Too fast. And Cory did what must be done.
Corwin Sloan Giesbrecht fought his last battle with cancer with great strength and courage. He was guided by the question his pastor posed during one visit: "where do you want to put your energies?" As always, Cory put them into living, to the finish. To the fullest. But there is no question; if he were here today, he would say, "It's so good to be here." He would have liked to stay a while longer.
About two years before his diagnosis, Cory emailed a story to his Auntie Ruth Friesen in Manitoba. The story was about a rabbi and a terminally ill young woman who asked to be buried with a spoon in her hand. Why? Because if after dinner, a host tells guests to "keep the spoon", it means the meal hasn't ended; there's something better ahead. "Cherish the time you have," he concluded, "and the memories you share. And hold onto the spoon."
He is gone now. Slipped from this earth on the paddled wings of God's angels to that calmest sunniest eternal day. His loved ones standing in the misty wake of the memories he left behind.
Paddle on, Cory. Till we meet again by the rivers of heaven.
Marguerite Patricia Mondin
Marguerite Patricia Mondin, of Trail, died peacefully surrounded by her family on November 21, 2003. She was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on June 29, 1927.
Following early high school graduation, she left home at age 16. She entered Nurse's training at St. Joseph's Hospital in Victoria and graduated in 1948.
Marg had a very adventurous spirit, which lead her to work at Vancouver General Hospital and King Edward V11 Hospital in Bermuda, prior to arriving in Trail in 1951. In her early years in Trail, she was known as "Riv" by her friends and colleagues. During her nursing career in Trail and Rossland, she held several nursing positions and was an exemplary nurse, serving and nurturing her patients. She advocated for her patients at any cost. Upon retirement in 1987, Marg continued to serve her community through her work with the Catholic Women's League, OLPH Church and canvassing for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
She married Enzo in 1956 and together they raised six children. She kept everyone organized, got everyone off to school, even after a night shift, and she made sure her family was punctual for Sunday Mass. She passionately raised her family and grandchildren until the day she died, with a keen sense of humour and sharp wit. Above all, she was our mentor and friend.
Her past interest included knitting, solving puzzles, travelling and camping. She loved a good time with friends and family. She was devoted to her faith and had a special relationship with the Virgin Mary.
She is predeceased by her husband, Enzo; her mother, Pearl and her father, Jack. She is survived by her family: Michael and his wife, Cheryl and their children, Rob, Heather and Lori, all of Trail; John and his wife, Lola and their children, Stephanie, Carolyn, Doreen, Marcella and Shauna, all of Calgary; Fred and his wife, Carole and their child, Madeleine, of Jakarta, Indonesia; Marguerite and her husband, Caster Maseko and their children, Sara, Matthew, Marissa, all of Surrey, Elda of Calgary, and Mary and her husband, Rich Billingsley and their children, Maggie and Sam, all of Rossland. Also survived by two brothers, Paul Rivett, of Kamloops and John Rivette, of North Seymour Arm, Shuswap Lake.
Father Bart van Roijen will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday, November 26, 2003, at 10:30 a.m., in Our lady of Perpetual Help Church, with interment to follow at Mountain View Cemetery. Donations may be made to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital Health Foundation (MRI Unit), 1200 Hospital Bench Road, Trail, B.C., V1R 4M1, or to the BC Lung Association, 2675 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, V6H 2K2 would be appreciated.
Bill Clark of Personal Alternative Funeral Services is entrusted with the arrangements.
Mildred Mae Fleury
May 16, 1930 - November 20, 2003
Mae passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, November 20, 2003, at the age of 73, with her family by her side.
Mae is survived by her brother, Jim Ashby; sisters, Thelma (Tom) Ehl and Margeret Palletti; daughters, Mareatta (Dan) Wiggens, Fay (Mel) Cooper, Diane Oakes, Beth Moore (Mike Booth), and Josey Fleury (Bill Fitger), as well as 12 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. She is predeceased by daughter, Leona Herrmann.
A Memorial Service will be held in the Chapel of Personal Alternative Funeral Services, 177 Tranquille Road, Kamloops, on Saturday, November 29, 2003, at 2:00 p.m.
Thelma June Nauert (Adams)
June 21, 1930 - November 19, 2003
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our dear mother, Thelma.
Thelma is predeceased by her husband, Johnny; mother, Maxine Maddaloni; father, Sydney Adams and sister, Beverly Hiller.
She is survived by sisters, Evelyn, Eva and Doreen (Joe), as well as her children, Lorne, Ron (Christine), Earleen (Wayne) and her grandsons, Kody, Kyle, Nielsen and Mitchell.
Over her life she looked after all of us. We love her and will miss her greatly.
A Graveside Service will be held at Hillside Cemetery on Friday, November 28, 2003, at 1:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice in Thelma's name.
We are sad to announce the passing of Waltraut (Trudy) L.E. Piepjohn, late November 4, 2003, at Royal Inland Hospital. Trudy leaves behind a small but loving immediate family of sons, Andrew and Tony, daughter in-laws, Anjy and Carol, grandchildren, Hollie and Alex, as well as some dear family friends.
Born in 1927 in Germany, Trudy and her predeceased husband, Kurt, immigrated to Canada in 1960, where they found opportunity and friends and eventually settled in Kamloops in the late 1960's. Trudy had a passion for children, flowers, conversation, movies, and pets that will be missed by all that new her. Honest, straightforward, with a coy sense of humor and a heart of gold, is how she lived her life and are the memories she leaves with us.
Genuine thanks to the medical staff of the 6th and 7th North floors at RIH for the care you provided her and to Dr. M. Wilson for your efforts.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the South Thompson Inn on December 6, 2003, at 4:00 pm, and we invite all friends from over the years to join us there.
Carl Bertram Spacil
Carl passed away peacefully on Tuesday, November 4, 2003, after a brief stay at Royal Inland Hospital. The care he received on 5-North was caring and simply wonderful. Special thanks to Dr. Robert Baker and Dr. Khoo.
Carl was born in Sexsmith, Alberta on July 28, 1928. He is predeceased by his father, Anton Spacil, born in Deerbrook Wisconsin, and mother, Anna Kozena of Krakow, Poland, and brother, John Spacil.
Carl was a well-known faller/logger, working in all parts of BC. For the last 20 years, he lived in Fort St. James and loved the area and the many people he called friends there. He will be greatly missed by all, but he is with the angels now.
Carl is survived by his ex-wife, Sarah; his daughters, Carol Spacil of Kamloops, Joey (Pat) McHenry of Ontario, and their children, Lance of BC and Bart of Alberta; brother, Joe (Jean) Spacil; sisters, Gen Spacil and Emily Johnson all of Edmonton, his twin Ed (Doris) Spacil of Dawson Creek, Bill (Verna) Spacil of St. Paul Alberta, and Henry Spacil of Hope, BC. and many nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held in the Spring.