I have lost my wife Clara of 63 years, and it hurts more than anything I can remember feeling. The mother of Alan (Shirley) and Bill (Patti Dibski) of Calgary, of Laura LeGood (Armin Semler) of Abbotsford and of Tom (Leslie Post) of London, Ontario, died of dementia in Salmon Arm, B.C. on May 7, 2012. Our family circle includes 10 grandchildren: Chris and Andrew; Sam and Alex; Jennifer, Joanna, Katrina and Emma; Hailey and Greg; and one great granddaughter: Hannah.

Clara Johanna Spall was born in Kelowna on March 13, 1926, the daughter of James and Johanna Spall (nee Knippel). She went to school there and at UBC for a year and at the University of Toronto after the war where she was studying occupational therapy and I was attending library school. In 1948 we married in Kelowna, B.C.

Clara worked as a therapist at the Royal Jubilee hospital in Victoria, at the Tranquille sanatorium on Kamloops Lake and, later, at the prison in Abbotsford-Matsqui. Wherever we lived she raised our young family very well; they went on to live their own lives with satisfaction and honour. She was accomplished not only in her career and as a mother but as a student – she made the Dean’s list at Fraser Valley College in Abbotsford – and as a woodworker and gardener. Clara was an engaging, outgoing person who has left us with a lifetime of memories.

Whither I would go, Clara would go. We lived in Abbotsford, in London, in Cranbrook, and then in Dawson Creek for 14 years where Clara worked as a weather observer at the airport and became intensely interested in speed skating when our four children joined the local speed skating club. She became its coach, formed a club in Fort St. John and began rising through administrative ranks in provincial and national speed skating, serving as president of the national body from 1977 to 1981. In this capacity she represented her sport at the winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria in 1976, at Lake Placid, NY in 1980, and at world and international events in Milan, Los Angeles, Montreal and Quebec City. Clara formed clubs in Mission, Abbotsford, Matsqui, Sardis and Surrey, and in Whitehorse and Haines Junction when we lived in the Yukon. She is a member of the speed skating Hall of Fame.

Clara’s wide circle of family including her surviving sibling, Beth Weick of Penticton, mourn her passing as do our immediate family and friends. We know how much we have lost. We humbly tender our thanks to the very helpful and understanding staff at Bastion Place and to doctors McCallum, Gow, Goldberg and Connor. Cremation has taken place. The family will enjoy the company of Clara’s friends in the common room at McIntosh Grove on May 10, and in Kelowna later in August. Instead of flowers, please consider donating to either the Canadian Cancer Society or the Terry Fox Foundation. Clara survived cancer in 1996.

Rest in peace, Clara. You have done well and we are proud of you. We love you.

Howard Overend, May 9, 2012.

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