Evelyn Joan Corner died peacefully at home in Willow Point, Nelson, BC, after a brief but devastating illness, on June 20, 2012, in the loving presence of her family. A memorial service was held on June 25, 2012, at St. Saviour’s Pro-Cathedral, Nelson, with the Rev. Gail Clifton officiating, assisted by the Rev. Sue Basek and the Rev. Marcella Mugford. Beautiful singing was provided by a choir of 16 friends, nicely accompanied by the organist, Tobias Jenny.
Joan was born on Jan. 7, 1935, in Nelson BC, to Eric Arthur Stromstead and Evelyn Myrtle Stromstead. She attended Central Elementary School and graduated from Nelson H.S. in 1952, after which she completed Teacher Training at Van. Normal School.
Joan was involved in many athletic activities as a child. Despite her own fear of water, Joan’s mother took her swimming as a baby. Joan loved the water, and could swim by age 3; she was a swimming instructor by age 14, beginning her natural vocation as a teacher. During High School, she was a Lifeguard at Lakeside Park. Joan met Ian, the love of her life, while swimming across Kootenay Lake.
Joan began piano lessons in Grade 2. That was the start of a lifelong love of, and relationship with, music. She first studied with Sister Scholastica of St. Joseph’s.
Joan loved going to the convent. It was a special place for her – the silence, the swish of robes – all were impressive to a small child. Joan continued piano studies with Mrs. Fraser, who was a great proponent of Festival work, and for the last 3 years of lessons Joan was made to enter the Music Festival each spring, much to her chagrin. She did, however, win top honours and a bursary for continuing study. Though she didn’t like playing in public, Joan was chosen to be the first person to play Nelson’s new Grand piano at a concert in the Civic Theatre, featuring Festival winners. In 1954 she travelled overseas as accompanist with the Elgar Choir’s Fifth British Tour. Upon her return, she started her first teaching job in Oliver, BC. Her education had prepared her well, and had made her realize how important it was to teach each student, not with a “ one way fits all “ approach. This insight was a great help when she was later to teach Special Needs children.
In Grade 9, Joan joined the school band, playing clarinet. She also played the piano for the orchestra and girl’s choir, Grades 9-12. Her music was a great asset; she was able to use it effectively in teaching. She started the school band program at Salmo School, and later in the ‘70’s was the band leader at Mt. Sentinal in South Slocan. While at Blewett Elementary she worked with learning-disabled students and started writing songs for children. After retiring, she continued writing songs for students at Central School where she was Grandfriending. Also, she helped them with musicals by conducting the choir and writing songs when needed. Joan wrote the Hume School Song at that time.
Joan took on many musical challenges. She conducted “ the Magic Flute “ at the Capitol Theatre. She self-published a “ Rock album “, a teaching package about Geology and the fantastic way various rocks are formed.
“Celebrate the Seasons”, another project, was a whimsical and instructive album of songs about Nature, Joan’s constant delight.
Joan experienced a gradual and deepening relationship with God over the years. Her questing spirit led her to truth in various ways. One path was to the former St. Andrew’s by the Lake Church. There she joined the Education for Ministry group and found much to read, research, and discuss with those of like minds. Studies helped her get “ beyond belief “, as Marcus Borg said, and to “ relationship”. In her words, she had moved away from the religion of her childhood to begin a personal relationship with the Holy One.
Joan felt more at peace than she ever had been in her life, and felt, because of this relationship, an internal softening, accepting, and strength. This peace was due to a surrendering and resting in God. She said, “ shift from the head to the heart “. Therein lies God. She was so grateful that God had been there all those years, waiting for her to say “Yes”. Joan’s surrendering to God was reflected in all her Homilies which she was licensed to deliver periodically at St. Saviour’s Pro-Cathedral, where she had been an active member.
All who met Joan were touched by her spirit. All who knew Joan found her loving, gentle, beautiful, and constantly delighted by the good in the world.
Joan is sadly missed by her devoted husband Ian, daughter Jody (Kenton), son Ian (Cathy), grandchildren Baylie and David, sister Terrie, sister-in-law Joan, and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank Joan’s loving friends for their unfailing support and love during her illness. Special thanks to Dr. McKechnie for his attentive and gentle care, and to Home Care nurses Cindy and Carolyn for their kind, caring and sensitive treatment. Also grateful thanks for the many beautiful floral arrangements in the Church and received at home from loving friends and family.
Those wishing to do so, may make Donations to the Kootenay Lake District Hospital Foundation or the Canadian Cancer Society.