February 17, 1952 – June 28, 2021
In loving memory ~
Penny Katherine Tees was born February 17th 1952 to Pat and John (Jack) Tees. The second child in the family, Penny grew up with her parents and her sister Shelly in Oakland, CA. The family spent many weekends at beaches from Shelter Cove Beach near San Francisco to Monterey where her father would participate in skin diving meets. Penny had a life-long love of the ocean and of watching wildlife. The family took long camping trips and twice visited British Columbia and the Kootenays where Penny would later spend over half her life.
Penny won a full scholarship to UC Berkeley in the early 1970s. She studied anthropology and was active at protests against the Vietnam war and rallies for better environmental policies and civil rights. Penny worked at Griffin Nursery School in Berkeley and took Elinor Griffin’s philosophies on early-childhood education with her as a parent, Trustee, Early Childhood Coordinator, and Grandparent.
Penny’s sister immigrated to Canada and landed in the Slocan Valley; Penny’s parents followed, and in 1980 Penny moved to Winlaw and soon married Larry Avis. The couple built and ran a fruit stand, which eventually became the building the Whole School operates out of. In 1985 they separated and Penny gave birth to their daughter, Martina.
Penny was elected to the local School Board in 1990 and took her position of Trustee and eventually chair very seriously. She was a fearless advocate for public education. Penny became the President of the BC School Trustees Association in 2004 and held this position for four years. During her time in these roles, she advocated for rural schools and accessibility in public education.
Penny was a devoted daughter, taking care of both her parents until their deaths. She raised her daughter Martina with infinite care and love and became a proud and doting grandma with the births of Esther and Lewis Ash.
Penny’s dear friend, Sam Simpson has called Penny “the most frugal person [she has] ever known.” Penny did not believe in excess, consumerism, or aesthetic renovations. She loved dogs, wild animals, the beach, trivia games —she won the last one she ever played—and children. Penny was passionate about welcoming young families to the Valley and delighted in seeing all the babies and children at Networks for New Parents, a program she designed and ran for years. Penny will be deeply missed by the community, her friends near and far, her past colleagues, and, of course her family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Senior’s Housing in the Slocan Valley. We miss you, Penny.
A public memorial will be held at the Vallican Whole Community Centre on June 28th at 3pm.
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