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June 24, 2014

Burial Date August 10, 2014

Wardroom, CFB Esquimalt, at 1 p.m.

Olwyn passed away in Victoria on June 24, 2014. Her friends called her Wyn, and her adoring children affectionately called her Ozzie. She received much love, comfort and support from her family across Canada and in other parts of the world throughout her life.

Mum was born to Pearl Edith Gibson and Arthur Hall Brown who raised her in Springhill, NS. She trained as a nurse at the Halifax Infirmary, married Frank Poffenroth at wars end, and headed west. Mum prospered in Calgary AB where she raised her beautiful family. Frank’s sudden illness and tragic loss left Mum to become self-reliant while parenting her infants, Gail and Richard. Mum later met and married Ken Keir, a strapping footballer, who enjoyed a six-year career with the Calgary Stampeders. Ken, Wyn, Gail and Richard, blessed by the arrival of Karol, Heather and Linda, needed ever-bigger homes.

Mum lived vicariously through the interesting lives of her five children. Cross-country check-ins to “command central” by phone were the weekly standard for 60 years. Mum had a self-deprecating sense of humour. She also had a quiet but direct manner. She had impeccably good taste. She did every wedding and special occasion in our family with flare and elegance. She sent countless gift parcels to her loved ones in Canada and overseas for five decades. Her grandchildren found that awesome. Her gifts were always so right: “How did Nana know?” Wyn volunteered at the Holy Cross Hospital and the Junior League of Calgary. She dressed all of us for the Stampede year after year and hosted many a great shindig.

Ken’s oil and engineering work took the family to Oakville ON, then to Edmonton and back to Calgary. Mum made each home a project and a statement about her creativity. She had a special flare for making a house a home. She and Ken made their home in Dartmouth NS, Whiterock BC, and retired to Springhill NS.

Mum loved her Springhill family ties. Mum and Dad immersed themselves down-east in maritime culture and the closeness of the Brown family clan. She and Ken received joy and kindness always from her beloved siblings, Ruthie and Winfield. She could never forget the wonderful music of her talented and entertaining nephews, the Merlin brothers, or the affection and strong support of her Brown nephews and their families, in all seasons, at any hour. She especially enjoyed her lobster rolls, Ruthie’s endless supply of oatcakes and other baking, and Ken’s leisurely drives to Heather’s Beach. She was very grateful for her family’s help with Ken in his final years, from Barbara Moore, Paul and Gloria Merlin, Pete and Dolly Merlin, Chuck Merlin, David Brown, Arthur and Virginia Brown, Sidney Myatt, as well as many others in Springhill who did so many wonderful things for our parents.

Olwyn leaves behind four loving children and their spouses: Gail Stanford and Santiago Mansilla of Chile, Richard and Theresa Keir of Qualicum Beach, Dan and Karol Murphy of Victoria, and David and Linda Howard of Qualicum Beach. Also surviving are her grandchildren, Angela Stanford (Dave Bruce), Nicholas Stanford, Christian Johnsen, Bailey Wagner (Sean), Stephanie Ambrus (Jessie), Keira Howard (Mike), and Haleigh Berko (father Larry). Husbands Ken Keir and Frank Poffenroth, her brother Horace Brown, her daughter Heather Keir-Berko, and her nephew Chuck Merlin, predeceased her.

Mum came to beautiful Victoria on Vancouver Island seven years ago and she truly enjoyed the closeness of her children, their frequent visits and, of course, her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Wyn’s five great-grandsons delighted her no end. Victor, Carter, Felix, Dezmond and Cash were born to David and Linda Howard’s three daughters, Bailie Wagner (Sean), Stephanie Ambrus (Jessie), and Keira Howard (Mike).

Each reflects Mum’s incredible life force that she maintained throughout her 86 years despite some serious health issues along the way.Her family extends sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude to relatives, friends and neighbours who expressed kind words of remembrance and support. That helped greatly.

Thank you to the teams of doctors, nurses, and care-workers at the Royal Jubilee Hospital who cared for Wyn during her final battle with illness. She received exceptional and compassionate care. The family commends the hospitalists, especially Drs. Lobsingar and Riddler, for unravelling the puzzle of her ailment. A special thank you goes out to Dr. Catherine Cruickshank, her family physician and fellow-maritimer, for taking Mum on as her patient and extending her quality of life.

To those many dear friends who shared our loss through gifts of food, flowers, calls, visits, cards and letters, memorial donations, and prayers, you have our deepest gratitude. Your expressions of love and concern sustain us. Thank you all.

Olwyn’s family and friends will celebrate her life in the Wardroom, CFB Esquimalt, at 1 p.m. on Sunday August 10. Condolences may be offered to the family at carefuneral.com.

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