Kathryn Tremblay, 1959-2022
In her early years, Kathryn lived a nomadic life with her family, but ended up in Nelson, BC, where she graduated from L.V. Rogers and went on to become a Chemical Laboratory Technologist, working in the Elk Valley, where she raised three daughters. She moved to Warfield, BC in 2006 where she worked at Teck Cominco, bought a house, and met the love of her life, Mario Lioce.
She was a proud member of the Kootenay Robusters dragon boat team for 12 years, enjoying the carpool to practices, fundraising, and competing in races. In the last years of her life, she and Mario fostered many dogs through the Kootenay Animal Assistance Program (KAAP). She lived with cancer for many years and always took it in stride. She beat the odds in so many ways, maybe because she remained optimistic, determined to do what she loved, and was an advocate for her own health. She tried to live by the immortal words tattooed on her forearm, “Worrying about the future spoils your today.” Kathryn took part in every activity the Robusters undertook – although she never held back when she didn’t necessarily agree with how we were doing things. Her smile and energy left a lasting impression on us all.
Gail Christine Ross (nee Jorgensen), 1956-2022
Gail grew up and attended high school in Nelson. She met Sam at a curling bonspiel in 1974 and they have been together ever since. Gail completed her B.Ed. at the University of Alberta, later completing a post-graduate diploma in Special Education, and raising three children. The family moved to Rossland in 1984. Gail’s life was rich with hobbies and friendships. An accomplished seamstress, she sewed beautiful dresses
for her daughter, wonderful quilts, and – during the pandemic – hundreds of cloth masks for healthcare workers and the Rossland community. She was a lifelong artist and crafter, creating intricate pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) and dot-mandala painted rocks. Gail was a proud member of the Mystic Dreams belly dance troupe and a survivor paddler on the Kootenay Robusters dragon boat team. She was an excellent curler, dedicated geocacher, and lifelong sorority member.
Above all, she loved going on adventures with Sam. We will always remember her quiet strength, her humor and her many contributions to the Robusters. The team visited her home shortly before she passed away and she greeted us graciously and spent precious time with each person. Sam even baked us her special walnut spice bars.
Pat (Birdie) Tjader, 1959-2020
Pat joined the Robusters in 2009 and quickly became a key member of the team. An excellent paddler, she spent several years in the stroke seat helping to set the pace and offering a great example to those behind her. Always ready to take on a challenge or solve a problem she often enlisted the help of her husband, Earl, who supported the team in many ways – from chauffeuring us to a festival in a large van to figuring out a system for getting the dragon boat up a hill from the water to a neighbour’s lawn when the water was too high to use our lift.
Despite many health challenges through the years, Pat showed up to paddle whenever she could, always looking her best and asking the rest of us if her hair or makeup looked okay. When she wasn’t able to be in the boat, she took on the proverbial cat-herding role of manager when we attended festivals. In the fall of 2019, Pat was diagnosed with a brain tumor while visiting her son in Calgary. She enjoyed Christmas with family and friends and then spent the last weeks of her life surrounded by Robusters and others who loved her until she quietly slipped away on Jan. 26, 2020.
Arlene McGillivray, 1943-2018
Arlene was born in Trail and raised in Christina Lake. After attending Trail Business College, she worked briefly in Kimberley where she met her future husband, Lorne. After marriage they lived and worked in Edmonton before returning to BC in 1967. They spent three years in Port Alberni and then moved to Kamloops where they lived for 25 years where Arlene worked as a library aide for the school district. They relocated to Christina Lake upon retiring in 1996.
Arlene was a generous, caring and sincere person. She loved to cook and entertain, and her outgoing personality and friendliness drew people to her. She enjoyed dancing, travel and shopping – and being a member of the Kootenay Robusters Dragon Boat Team. We could never figure out how she could take part in a practice and always end up looking as polished and together as when she started, when the rest of us were totally bedraggled.
Arlene paddled with the Robusters for several years before a shoulder injury ended her paddling career. She continued to be a member of the team and supported all Robuster initiatives. We’ll never forget her leadership in the apple pie baking fundraisers. She always kept a lookout from her deck on practice nights and had a bag of cookies ready in case the team stopped by – which we often did if we were in the south end of the lake.
Trudi Toews, 1949-2018
Trudi grew up on a farm near the town of Beaver Lodge Alberta, the youngest of six children. Here she learned the value of hard work, persistence, ingenuity and compassion for all living things. She passed away on January 6th of 2018 in Kelowna B.C., after a courageous battle with lung cancer during which she displayed the determination, humour and dignity that were so typical of her. When her spirits were low, she focussed on simple pleasures, like cuddling kittens, to make herself feel better.
Back in 2001 Trudi was instrumental in setting up the Kootenay Robusters Dragon Boat team and participated as steers person, tireless recruiter and paddler until she was no longer able to take part. Even then, she supported the team and made a point of getting together with us whenever possible. She helped shape the team in so many ways and took on any challenge – quickly figuring out how to solve it while the rest of us were still muddling around.
A great competitor, she thrived on participating in dragon boat festivals, always getting the Robusters set up to make the most of their training as they streaked down her carefully chosen line. If another boat appeared to be encroaching on our territory, she let them know in no uncertain terms. She really knew how to have fun and made the most of these festivals to let her hair down, especially when it came to creating wild costumes. We will never forget her mischievous smile and contagious laugh – or the way she punctuated her comments with, “hmmm?”
Despite her many responsibilities as family doctor, obstetrician, chief of staff for KBRH and matriarch of a lively family she still made time for practices and commuting to and from Rossland with her team mates – making the time pass quickly by telling stories. In the back of the boat, she multitasked effortlessly – coaching new paddlers, steering with one hand and solving medical emergencies on her cell phone, all the while keeping an eye out for floating debris in the lake.
As Trish said at her memorial, Trudi will never be gone. We will carry her with us forever, remembering so many things about her and the impact she had on all our lives.
Judy Peck, 1959-2016
Judy was born and raised in California but found Rossland and Leavenworth, Washington, to be the perfect environments for her adventurous soul. She used her outdoor skills to enjoy the wilderness and to guide others down rivers on rafts or over snow covered mountains on skis. After a diagnosis of breast cancer and the treatment that followed, Judy joined the Robusters and along with other newbies enjoyed learning to dragon boat and sharing stories on the commute from Rossland to Christina Lake. She will be remembered as much for her energy, enthusiasm and positive outlook as for her considerable skills and effectiveness as a paddler.
Sharon Griffiths, 1942-2016
Sharon Marie Griffiths moved to Rossland in the early 1960s, where she raised her family and worked various jobs in the community. She is remembered for her many years of dedicated service at Red Mountain Ski Resort. Sharon joined the Robusters in the early years of the team and was an enthusiastic and cheerful member of the team, supporting our shared goals with a positive spirit.
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Lisa Marken, 1967-2014
Lisa Gina Ann Marken of Nelson, B.C. worked in Social Services and B.C. Ambulance Service for many years, before putting her energies into helping her husband Greg start up their company G.W. Marken Appraisal Associates Ltd. Later she upgraded her education and worked for Interior Health in the lab at Kootenay Lake Hospital. She enjoyed interacting with people from all walks of life and always treated them with kindness and respect. Lisa found some of her co-workers to be her best friends and they were a great support to her. The Robusters remember her as an upbeat and happy young woman who worked hard at practices and never complained. Whenever things got hard, she’d always say to herself, “Suck it up, princess.”
Kay Read, 1921-2013
Kathleen ‘Kay’ was born in Trail on June 11,1921 and passed away in Trail on October 16,2013.
When the Robusters were formed in 2000, they advertised around Christina Lake for a home. Kay immediately responded, offering her lakeside home, saying she hoped she wasn’t too late. We started loading her basement, beach and septic tank and continued for the next 13 years. Many times we must have been an inconvenience, especially during the busy family summers, but Kay and her family made us feel welcome.
She always ran a tight ship and while Kay made it clear that she was delighted to welcome us into her home, there were definitely rules. If anyone forgot to turn off a light or close a door, we were all reminded in no uncertain terms. The sign above her door in Christina Lake reads ‘Everybody is entitled to MY opinion’!
Kay enjoyed the celebrations that are an integral part of the Robuster program. Birthdays, anniversaries, carnation ceremonies, family days – she was up for them all. On the team’s 10th anniversary she played a central role, looking fabulous in her pink boa.
Kay was a strong supporter of breast cancer awareness, part of the reason she wanted to help the Robusters in the first place. During a fall meeting in her new summer kitchen only a couple of years ago, she scolded us for spending too much time discussing fundraising and not enough on community programs to support breast cancer awareness.
She had a quick wit and a great sense of fun. The examples of this are endless and continued right through her life. Even the serious topic of breast cancer wasn’t off limits. When Kay herself was diagnosed several years ago she fixed the Robusters with a stern gaze and complained, “I didn’t know it was contagious.” More seriously, she let us know that any time she got discouraged during her treatment, she only had to look at the healthy Robuster survivors to feel better.
A great team member, she showed up for our practices and took part from her deck, waving us on or pounding her drum. Every success was praised and she kept a collection of our festival medals proudly displayed. In 2005 she was present for our proudest moment – winning top spot at the Kelowna festival in the women’s division – and took part in the march through the paddle arch.
Kay was a wonderful role model for a group of older women to emulate. She clearly demonstrated to “her girls” that the passing years need not dim love of family, independence, a sense of humour, loyalty, integrity, genuine warmth and generosity. We will miss her but she will always be a strong presence in our hearts and minds.
Amy Fehr, 1975-2013
Amy was a devoted wife, a dedicated mother, a loving daughter, sister and aunt as well as being a faithful friend to many. She enjoyed gardening, camping, fishing and boating. Despite her family commitments she paddled for part of one season with the Robusters on the waters of Christina Lake, lending her energy to the task of supporting the team.
She died of a pulmonary embolism, although many thought that it might have been from a broken heart. Her young son Richard had died the year before in a tragic accident during a storm.
We will remember Amy as an enthusiastic team member who wanted to help out in any way she could. She is missed by all who knew her.
Mavis Chato, 1942-2012
Mavis of Grand Forks passed away peacefully with a smile on her face in Mexico in the care of a good friend on March 21, 2012, the equinox. Mavis was born in Beechy, SK on January 3rd, 1942.
Mavis’ career began as a legal secretary, but she became a social worker and for many years worked for the Boundary Family and Individual Services Society of Grand Forks, BC. Among many contributions she led the first new parenting group and played an active role in the development of The Gables housing project. Mavis was well loved and appreciated by her peers, colleagues, and family. She will be remembered for her gentle spirit, intellect, and peaceful kindness. She was an inspiration to many and a model of empowerment. Mavis is survived by her three children: Johl Chato, Ayen Chato, Brenan Chato, her two grandchildren Jasper Sol Chato and Julia Ocean Chato, and her sisters Kathy Rains (and husband Barrie Rains) and Beverley Owens, as well as numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Janet Merry, 1933-2004
Janet was born in Trail in July 14, 1933 to John & Mary Biker. She graduated from Trail High School in 1951 and went on to complete a degree in Home Economics at the University of Idaho. Janet married George Merry in 1955 and together they raised four children. Her lifetime priority was her family and she lived her passion supporting all children in her life. After raising her children, Janet returned to her teaching career. She was an active community volunteer, working with the Stingray Swim Club, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, United Way and Cancer Society. She was an avid bridge player and loved all activities, especially golf, and was a great friend to all. She passed away on March 15, 2004.
Nora Morris, 1949-2004
Maria was born in St. Georgio, Italy on Dec. 19,1949. She came to Trail, B.C. at 3 years of age. Maria grew up in West Trail eventually being employed at Cominco where she worked for 31 years. Maria felt very fortunate to be surrounded by her loving family, raising many children including her own boys, John & Stephen. Maria first joined the Kootenay Robusters in 2000 to be part of something bigger than breast cancer, and formed life-changing friendships. Maria passed away Jan 30, 2004 never giving up hope or faith that God is good & breast cancer will be beaten.
Mary Jane Cadman, 1948-2012
Mary was born in Saskatchewan and grew up on the family farm. She chose a career in Information Systems and later married Robert Cadman in 1991. She was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly afterwards and the couple decided to move to an acreage in Alberta for a quieter life style. After raising their daughter there, Mary and Robert retired to Grand Forks in 2007 and Mary became involved with the local quilting guild and other groups – exploring spinning, weaving and visual arts. She also paddled with the Robusters, enjoying the camaraderie of the group and the great exercise dragon boating provides. She passed away on Oct. 4, 2012.
Lora Burke, 1958-2008
A native of Trail, Lora grew up as part of the vibrant Italian community and became an active member of the San Martino club and the Sisters of Colombo. She and her husband Kerry had two daughters, Andrea and Kaila and were part of a large extended family.
After her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, Lora joined the Kootenay Robusters in 2007, paddling enthusiastically for a season, and taking part in the 2007 David Thompson Brigade on the Columbia River. After her cancer returned, she was unable to continue paddling, but followed the activities of the team with interest and enjoyed participating in the survivor race at the Kelowna Dragon Boat festival in September, 2008.
As well as paddling, Lora loved fitness activities, yoga, walking, reading, listening to music and getting together with her many friends. She passed away on December 21, 2008.
Wanda Mears, 1957-2007
Wanda was born in Halifax, N.S. and spent her youth as an Army brat all over Eastern Canada. She was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for 22 years, serving two overseas tours. Wanda retired in 1999 to be a stay-at-home wife and mom to her husband Steve and two children, Kurt and Kyla, a job that she loved.
After treatment for breast cancer in 2001, she joined a survivor team in Kingston, Ontario and then the Kootenay Robusters, after the family moved to Trail. When not with her family, her happiest times were in the boat with the girls. She participated in the tenth anniversary celebration of breast cancer survivor dragon boat racing held in Vancouver in June, 2005, dancing and celebrating with the rest of the team. During her final days, Wanda was kept informed about the adventures of the Robusters on the 2007 David Thompson Brigade on the Columbia River in a voyageur canoe named Wanda, in her honour. She passed away on July 10, 2007.
Phyllis Weldon, 1926-2006
Phyllis Weldon was a renowned artist and poet. Born in New York, she grew up and lived most of her life in Montreal, where she married her beloved husband Jim. The couple had 3 sons, and when Jim retired they moved to Trail to be near their sons Jim and Ron and their families. Phyllis loved the outdoors, especially camping and canoeing, and was very active in the arts community in Trail.
After surviving breast cancer, Phyllis became a charter member of the Robuster dragon boat team, and was responsible for writing, shooting and producing the video “Beyond the Bend: Voices of Hope” which publicized cancer treatment using her own experience. She paddled and competed with the team for 2 seasons, and this little woman in her 70’s could paddle as hard as any member! Ill health finally forced her to stop, but she never lost her enthusiasm or her dedication to the team. She passed away on Jan. 16, 2006.
Patricia Augustin, 1951-2002
Patricia Augustin was born in Kimberly, on July 27, 1951 to John and Doreen Armitage. She spent most of her youth in Creston and was Miss Creston in 1969. She married Reiner Augustin on Dec. 5, 1970. She had 2 children, Griffin(1973) and Gayle(1974).
Pat worked for the Ministry of Environment in Nelson until 2001. As a charter member of the Robusters she participated in the team’s first paddling season.
Pat passed away on July 1, 2002. At that time she was survived by her mother Doreen, husband Reiner, children Griffin and Gayle, grandchildren Austin and Jaden, twin sister Gayle, brothers Ernie and Jay and mother-in-law Inge Augustin.