March 5, 1946 - May 22, 2010
STEPHEN, John Rowan Mackenzie Slipped away gently on May 22nd, 2010 at Royal Jubilee Hospital after a courageous battle with cancer.
John was born in Glasgow, Scotland on March 5th, 1946, lived briefly in Scotland and England, thence North Vancouver for his youth and young adulthood. After attending Simon Fraser University as a charter student, John moved to and graduated from technical school in Saskatoon where he prepared for his career as a Conservation and Fishery Officer, serving with distinction in arctic communities, thence Rivers Inlet, Lilloett and finally, Sooke, where he retired in 1999.
After retirement, poultry hobby farming occupied John for many years but his abiding passion was for his family, near and far. John was active in Sooke politics and Sooke Baptist Church and was known throughout his community as a truly compassionate neighbour and good Samaritan. Shortly after his loving wife Margaret's death in 2005, John developed multiple myeloma.
In 2007 John found love again with Lucie Gaucher and the two were married in 2009. John is predeceased by Margaret, his wife of 36 years, and his father Jim, of North Vancouver. He leaves behind his wife Lucie in Sidney, sons, Michael(Heidi) in Vancouver, and Jeffrey in Victoria, and daughter, Emily Leyh(Aaron) and infant grand daughter Rebecca in Nanaimo, mother, Rebecca, in Horseshoe Bay, brother Jamie(Helen) in Chemainus, sister Moira Zealand in Sechelt, together with many devoted nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews throughout Canada and the U.S.
John's family offers thanks for the compassionate, professional care received at the Victoria Cancer Clinic and Royal Jubilee Hospital.
A memorial service was held at Sooke Baptist Church, 7110 West Coast Road, Sooke, B.C. (250-642-3424) on Saturday, May 29th, 2010 at 1400 hrs.
In lieu of flowers, donations are recommended to Victoria Hospice (Stadacona Centre, 1510 Fort Street, Victoria, V8S 5J2) and/or the B.C. Cancer Foundation (Suite 600-686 West Broadway, Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 1G1).
Good Bye, John.
John Stephen was my friend, mentor, boss and colleague. We first met in 1976 at his office in Lillooet, and became friends almost immediately.
John made a striking figure in his uniform, towering above me; but it quickly became apparent that he was as gentle as he was tall. We worked together for a number of years, as equals, even though we both knew that his training and experience far outweighed mine. The job pressure never seemed to dampen his good humour and readiness for mischief.
There is at least one ex-CO who will always remember looking in the Yalakom Valley for a non-existent Mr. Larsen with a moose in the swimming pool. And there is an ex-FO who got soaked to the skin because he just had to blow into an “ooligan pipe” as instructed by John … And then there is the crew up north who flew around for hours one April 1st, searching for a herd of imaginary caribou drifting off on a giant ice floe…
John had an uncanny ability for finding action, fun or information. Many suspects (and some co-workers) found out very fast that his interrogation technique got results. He once snuck up to within 20 feet of two poachers busy dip-netting salmon. When one poacher told the other: “I think we have enough”, John turned his flashlight on them and informed them that he thought so too, and placed them under arrest. They almost fell into the Fraser River in their surprise.
The annual spawning counts in the many streams and creeks in the interior were John’s favorite duties. He organized these outings with motorcycles, rubber dinghies, canoes or aluminum boats, usually as overnight excursions. On one of the first in the Lillooet Sub-district, he found an unopened bottle of “Baby Duck” in an abandoned trapper’s cabin. Even though neither of us was very fond of the taste, it became a tradition to open a bottle of “Duck” whenever we found ourselves together in the upper Nahatlatch river area!
When he failed to get funds to remove old log jams in the Nicola and Nahatlatch Rivers, he simply packed some lunches, chainsaws and patrolmen into the Suburban and did the dirty work himself.
His commitment to the resource and his integrity can best be shown with the following example: In court one day, John was accused by a suspect of drinking on the job. There was no truth to the story (I had been there and testified to that), and the accused admitted that she had been drinking on the day in question. Yet the judge told John that he was very, very suspicious of him. That was the only time I saw John turn white. On the drive home he didn’t say a word. He wrote a letter of resignation that same night, because he didn’t think he could do his job to his and the Department’s satisfaction if a judge could take the word of a drunken suspect over his and his patrolman’s. (His supervisor wisely did not accept John’s resignation.)
We didn’t have much contact in the last 20 years beyond the usual season’s greetings and occasional phone conversations. But even after he became ill, his humour always surfaced and his joie de vivre never diminished. And when we reminisced on our adventures in the interior sub-District, we always promised to get together soon to go camping in the Nahatlatch, Churn, Yalakom River…
I’m sorry we never did. I will miss John.