Beryl was colouful, outspoken, at times irreverent, with keen intellect and a sharp wit. She laughed often and easily. Her communication style was unambiguous; her written words memorable.
Born in Oldham, Lancashire, England, and later moving to Doncaster, Beryl lived with her parents and 3 brothers Eric, Gordon and Rex. As a teenager, she attended a private vocational secretarial school, in Doncaster, and thereafter moved to Manchester to work. Wanting a change, she emigrated from England to Canada, in 1954, settling in Vancouver where her brother, Eric, resided. She worked for the Polio Foundation, then for many years at UBC as secretary to the Dean of Science. From early activities she made lifelong friends, volunteering with The Little Theatre Company sewing costumes, and hiking in the local mountains. Taking early retirement from UBC, in 1982, she embarked on a more flexible career operating a stylish bed and breakfast from her spectacularly located waterfront townhouse in South False Creek and publishing the quirky The Creek newspaper. She flourished.
Beryl was a pioneer citizen of the South False Creek Community (SFCC), moving to newly constructed Spruce Village in 1978 where she lived for 40 years. She left her mark on the SFCC with her long standing contributions to civic, community, arts, people and environmental affairs. Well known as the Editor-in-Chief of The Creek for 20 years commencing in 1983, under her stewardship the newspaper weaved together the fabric of the uniquely interconnected South False Creek and Granville Island communities. She wrote with self deprecating style, humour and passion about local matters, civic issues, arts and community events, promoting local businesses, telling personal stories about herself and others. Upon retiring from The Creek she was bestowed an honorary Citizenship to Granville Island in appreciation of her contributions to the two communities.
An avid reader, cat lover, CBC radio listener, resolute environmentalist, regular lecture attendee, stalwart traveler, aquafit and weight training class participant, she was engaged and busy, frequently out three or more nights a week. Her interests were diverse including theatre, opera, classical music and choral ensembles, civic concerns especially regarding her adored SFCC. Beryl was social, enjoying friends and neighbours, keeping in touch with family and many acquaintances in her sphere.
A committed sun worshipper, for more than a decade Beryl, rented out her townhouse and decamped to Mexico for a month. She enjoyed a good adventure. They were numerous: Cariboo Cattle drive twice, African safari, Kootenay camping trip with nieces and grandnieces, Arctic tour, Galapagos boat trip, Passion Play in Drumheller, road trips to the Maritimes, New England, southwestern US. Her last vacation, in 2018, was with her niece Andrea, to see the fall colours in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.
In May, Beryl received a devastating terminal lung cancer diagnosis. Expressing she did not feel courageous, her actions suggest otherwise. She absorbed her diagnosis with immense dignity. Respectfully, she accepted direction and support from her healthcare support teams both at VGH and at home. Her final weeks were spent receiving palliative care at home, where often she kept her back door open signalling she was up for visitors, whom she relished.
Beryl expressed immense gratitude to her older brother, Eric, who forged the way to Canada and supported her move to SFCC emphasizing, “IT CHANGED MY LIFE!” She expressed immense gratitude to her broad South False Creek and local Spruce Village communities. She died feeling treasured and loved by many.
She leaves family, who loved her deeply, her beloved Spruce Village community, the SFCC and many other friends and acquaintances to grieve.
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye. Cheerio, here I go. I am on my way. Ta, ta for now and see you anon.
– Jan Rea, Beryl Wilson’s niece
July 25th, 2019. Still smiling and bright-eyed, Beryl in her final days with long-time neighbour Rosemary Alder. She was delighted to be receiving healthy, tasty meals prepared and delivered by her neighbours, friends and community. Good food was always a priority; perhaps that contributed to Beryl’s longevity.