Lives Lived: Joan Mary Campbell, 96

Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Joan Campbell died Feb. 17 of natural causes.

Mother, golfer, volunteer, gardener, tea addict. Born May 13, 1916, in Romford, Essex, died Feb. 17, 2013, in Kelowna, B.C., of natural causes, aged 96.

When Joan was 14, her father taught her to play golf and she developed a passion for the game. As a junior golfer in the 1930s, she played in Open Competitions in England.

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Her first big triumph came when she won the Princess Elizabeth Cot Cup. Princess Elizabeth, now our Queen, was the patron. The Cot Cup was a benevolent championship that raised money to purchase cots for children’s hospitals.

In 1939, Joan competed in the Belgian Open, where she advanced to the semi-finals. Two weeks after the tournament, war broke out and, as Joan related later, “there was not very much golf during the war years.”

During the war, Joan married John Shaw Campbell, a doctor in the British Army. In 1951, they immigrated to Canada, finally settling in Kelowna in 1956, where Joan continued her golfing successes.

She was the B.C. Interior Champion 10 times. With five sons, caddies were never in short supply. In 1971, Joan was selected for the first B.C. Senior Women’s Golf team, which won the Canadian Championship that year. She was inducted into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

Though Joan loved golf, it always took second place to her family and her community. She was always busy, whether being secretary for the local scout troop, being involved with the Catholic Women’s League, or helping collect money for various charities.

Most notably, she was a member, then president, of the Kelowna Volunteer Visiting Service, which gave comfort to elderly people and shut-ins. Over tea and engaging conversation, Joan would bring warmth to people who had few connections with the outside world.

For many years she was a member of the Kelowna Puffers Club, a support group for people with breathing difficulties. For close to 50 years, she herself suffered from a breathing disorder, bronchiectasis. Joan never let this condition get the better of her or stand in her way of getting on with life.

And get on with life she did. At 5 foot 2 and 117 pounds, Joan was tough; she had to be to raise five boys.

Joan persevered through all adversity. When she broke her hip, and then her shoulder, at age 87, she wasn’t defeated by the double whammy. She worked hard to get her mobility back, even becoming strong enough to be the star pupil in her exercise class, showing up younger participants with her endurance.

When all of her boys had left home, Joan took in boarders who looked on her as a second mother.

When she could not look after her beautiful garden she hired students, teaching them the difference between weeds and flowers. All who came into contact with Joan kept in touch. Joan replied to all in her precise and clear handwriting.

Though time eventually made Joan frail, she was quick-witted and alert to the end. She made an impression on everyone. Everyone who met Joan liked her, and everyone who came to know her loved her.

Chris Campbell is Joan’s son.

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