Ellen (McKenna) Whitaker Age 98 of Nelson, BC and late of Vancouver, BC died March 29, 2016.
Ellen (Gonk as she was known to all her grandchildren) was born January 20th, 1918 in Granby, Quebec, second oldest of a family of four siblings to Arlington David and Hilda (Kendall) McKenna. After graduating from Granby High Scholl as class valedictorian, she attended Mt. Allsion University (1935-1939), New Brunswick on scholarship and earned a BA (cum Laude). While there, she met her future husband, Richard Hales Whitaker (a handsome, hockey-playing engineering student). Following graduation, this courageous small-town girl journeyed alone by bus all the way to San Antonio, Texas to marry Dick who had joined the United States Air Force. During the war years two children (Jane Ellen and Richard Hales Jr.,) were born to the couple. After the war, in1951 they moved to Vancouver, BC where two more children (Suzanne and Catherine Mary) were born. She would reside in Vancouver for most of the rest of her life3 until a move to Nelson, BC in March 2015 to the home of her second daughter.
A lifelong Anglican, in 1951 she joined St. Faith’s Anglican Church where she remained a steadfast parishioner and where her ashes will be buried in the Memorial Garden next to her husband’s. She also lent her strength and support to Al-Anon participants for many years as well as being a member of BC Status of Women and Project Ploughshares. She was a staunch financial supporter of Council of Canadians, David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, Stephen Lewis Foundation and many other groups. Her passion for peace and justice was a focus throughout her life. As well, she re-used and recycled long before it was ‘de rigeur’ and was a staunch supporter of supporting local artisans and businesses. She was a lover of CBC, poetry, murder mysteries and music with always a verse of long-remembered poem on her lips or a tune to hum.
Ellen is survived by her children Jane, Richard (Cherry), Suzanne (Mike), and Catherine, her sister Mary Ann, 11 grandchildren Nancy, Michael, Tracey, Ben, Matthew, Jennifer, Greg, Paul, Carrie, Michelle, Lindsay; 8 great grandchildren, 2 step-grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband; her eldest grandchild Douglas; her parents; two brothers, two sisters-in-law and brother-in-law.
Ellen died as she lived: with quiet strength and great dignity. She is characterized by intelligence, wisdom, humor, grace, and quiet acceptance which touched all with whom she came in contact over her long life.
Remains have been cremated and a service and burial will be held at St. Faith’s Church, Vancouver, June 18, 2016 at 10:00am. A memorial service has taken place at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Nelson, April 16. In lieu of flowers donations to the St. Saviour’s Food Pantry or the Stephen Lewis Foundation gratefully appreciated.
“I will arise and go now…”
Online condolences may be expressed at www.thompsonfs.ca
Megan Johnson of Thompson Funeral Service has been entrusted with the cremation arrangements.