Bonnie (Colquhoun) Wyse (1945) and George Wyse (1941) passed away peacefully together at home in Canmore on Thursday, January 6, 2022. They were surrounded by loved ones and were grateful for the wonderful team who supported them in fulfilling their wishes for medical assistance in dying (MAID). Their last days were full of love and laughter. They had a wonderful life. They were ready.
Bonnie and George grew up (mostly) in Kamloops, BC. They met as teenagers, fell in love, and married in 1964. George said they were like two puzzle pieces that fit together, and from the king of understatement, that pretty much says it all. They are survived by their children, Naomi Wyse (Simon Orrell) and David Wyse (Natasha Drainville) and their grandchildren Sophie Wyse-Cheah, Sam and Max Orrell, and Freesia Drainville Yamamoto. They were loved by their numerous brothers and sisters (Wyses Carol, Charlie, Jim, Sue, Ed, Marion and Larry; Colquhouns Sheila, Judi and Kerri), extended family, and an endless circle of friends and colleagues.
Stories from their childhoods that will live on: George going to work on the railway the summer he was 14 to help support the family (grandkids take note), and Bonnie fearlessly plucking dead rats out of a basement washtub when no one else would. George apparently read his way through the entire Kamloops library, one shelf at a time, which helped make him unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. Bonnie worked at the Kamloops A&W as a car hop in the summers, alongside her sisters (roller skates not required).
Their early years together were an adventure, moving from place to place (Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, Albuquerque, Portland OR, and Calgary) as George collected medical degrees and Bonnie specialized in early childhood education. There were dinner parties and hijinx and incredible fashion choices along the way, as well as hard work and professional accolades (*see footnotes). Family life was punctuated by blissful summers at the Shuswap, where Bonnie and George would go for long runs in the mornings and sailing in the afternoons. There were years of hard-won personal growth and struggles with less-than-perfect moments as well. The difficulties only seemed to make them stronger.
The Canmore years were spent looking after grandkids at Bonnie’s Playhouse where George was the baby-whisperer. George wrote a book, read books and golfed until he couldn’t. Bonnie grew beautiful gardens and loved everyone she ever met. They both struggled with declining health as time went on. Lately George was in constant physical pain, and Bonnie’s dementia accelerated. Slip-sliding away (as Simon & Garfunkel would say) wasn’t part of the plan (Stan). Pain can be endured, but the prospect of one losing the other could not. So they made their choice. They chose to leave as they lived; with love, grace and good humour.
They dedicated themselves to helping others – this fact cannot be overstated – both individually and together. It was baked into their professional lives as a teacher and a physician, but it was also a deeply held value and one of the loveliest things about them both. They spent their entire lives helping and supporting and loving each other, their kids, the grandkids, other people’s kids and grandkids, friends, family, colleagues, students, patients. They were flawed, perhaps, and grew to be less so. They helped all of us do the same.
George’s professional biography, publications and awards can be found here.
The book he co-authored, Hearts, Minds & Vision, can be found here.
His University of Calgary Lecture of a Lifetime (2017) is available here.
In lieu of a formal Memorial service, the family would ask that you please raise a glass and share a meal with your favourite people. Friends wishing to remember Bonnie and George are encouraged to make a donation, in their memory, to organizations that support educators and healthcare workers.