Mary Louise Tapson-Jones was born in Vernon, BC to Louise and Alex Woods and spent her childhood on the Woods farm at Canoe Point on Shuswap Lake. The family of five included older brothers Allen and Robert. The family worked hard to make a living off the farm in a by-gone era of no roads, electricity or running water. Mary Lou’s schooling was done through correspondence; however, the knowledge conveyed by her parents left her versed in literature, music and her greatest love – nature.
Mary Lou married widower John “Tapson” Tapson-Jones on October 1, 1952. Despite the difference in their ages, Tapson and Mary Lou had a loving and productive marriage that endured a quarter century. They remained resident on Canoe Point until 1964, when they moved into Salmon Arm to be closer to medical attention required by Tapson and Mary Lou’s aged parents.
Mary Lou joined the Salmon Arm Garden Club, Shuswap Naturalists, Haney House Heritage Village and Museum, and the Salmon Arm Photo Club. She received awards including the Louise Woods Memorial Garden Trophy, the Federation of BC Naturalists Knowing Nature Award, the Canada 125 Medal in 1993 for her sharing her knowledge of flora and fauna and her involvement as an environmentalist and naturalist. She was repeatedly honored for her wonderful wild flower photography at the Salmon Arm Fall Fair.
She shared her knowledge of flora through the Salmon Arm Naturalists, Elder Hostel, BC Parks Interpretive Program, Salmon Arm School District Outdoor Education Program and Haney Heritage Village and Museum. Her greatest thrill was to publish a book “Perilous Charmers; Poisonous Plants of the Pacific Northwest.” She co-authored the first checklist of Wildflowers, Trees & Shrubs of the Shuswap in 1972.
Mary Lou would rarely, if ever, cast judgment on others.She took everyone at face value and would be supportive of people in whatever endeavor they were involved in. She took a genuine interest in other people’s activities and that kind of interest garnered her many true friends. Mary Lou had a great, if not quirky, sense of humour and was always quick to laugh, especially if she could find a pun. She could come out with some very good lines that would lighten up anyone around her. What a great combination of keen wit and genuine interest in other people.
Mary Lou moved to Shuswap Lodge Retirement Residence in 2006 and received the best care possible. In December 2008, Mary Lou was diagnosed with terminal cancer & as she required more care, moved to Bastion Place a few short weeks prior to her passing.
Mary Lou was predeceased by her parents, her husband in 1977, her brother Allan Woods in 2003. She is survived by her brother Robert (Eleanor) Woods of Canoe, nephews Percy (Sharon) Woods of Banff, Alex (Jane) Woods of Smithers, nieces Bess Woods of Salmon Arm, Kerry McMillan of Mara and her step-granddaughter Sheila (Bill) Hart of Nelson.
Donations in her memory may be made to Salmon Arm Museum & Heritage Association, Box 1642, Salmon Arm, BC, V1E 4P7 or Shuswap Community Foundation, Box 624. Salmon Arm, BC, V1E 4N7.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Haney Heritage Village and Museum on Sunday June 28 at 10 a.m.