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Ellen Whitaker

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Ellen Audrey (Kennie) Whitaker (McKenna)

January 20, 1918 - March 29, 2016


ELLEN AUDREY (KENNIE) (MCKENNA) WHITAKER AGE 98 of Nelson, BC and late of Vancouver, BC died March 29, 2016.

Ellen (Gonk as she was known to all her grandchildren) was born January 20, 1918 in Granby, Quebec, second oldest of a family of four siblings to Arlington David and Hilda (Kendall) McKenna. After graduating from Granby High School as class valedictorian, she attended Mt. Allison University (1935 – 1939), Sackville, New Brunswick from where she earned a Bachelor of Arts (cum Laude). While there, she met her future husband, Richard Hales Whitaker (a handsome, hockey-playing engineering student). Following graduation, this courageous small-town girl journeyed alone by bus all the way to San Antonio, Texas to marry Dick who joined the United States Army Air Force. During the war years two children (Jane Ellen and Richard Hales, Jr,) were born to the couple. After the war, in 1951 they moved to Vancouver, BC where two more children (Suzanne and Catherine Mary) were born. She would reside in Vancouver for most of the rest of her life until a move to Nelson, BC in March, 2015 to the home of her second daughter.

A lifelong Anglican, in 1951 she joined St. Faith’s Anglican Church where she remained a steadfast parishioner and where her ashes will be buried in the Memorial Garden next to her husband’s. She also lent her strength and support to Al-Anon participants for many years as well as being a member of the Status of Women and Project Ploughshares. She was a staunch financial supporter of the Council of Canadians, David Suzuki Foundation, Amnesty International, The Stephen Lewis Foundation and many other groups. Her passion for peace and justice was a focus throughout her life. As well, she recycled and re-used long before it was ‘de rigeur’ and was a staunch supporter of shopping local and supporting local artisans and businesses. She was a lover of poetry, murder mysteries and music with always a verse of a long-remembered poem on her lips or a tune to hum.  

Ellen is survived by her children Jane Ellen Whitaker, Richard Hales Whitaker (Cherry), Suzanne (Whitaker) Basek (Michel), and Catherine Mary (Whitaker) Wand, her sister Mary Ann (McKenna) McComiskey, 11 grandchildren (Nancy Ellen (Stewart) Williams, Michael Richard Stewart, Tracey Samantha (Stewart) Towers, Richard Benjamin Whitaker, Matthew David Whitaker, Jennifer Ellen Ann Wand, Lindsay Ellen Wand), 8 great grandchildren, 2 step great grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Richard Hales Whitaker; her eldest grandchild, Douglas Malcolm Stewart; her parents; two brothers (Arlington Ward McKenna and David Gardner McKenna) as well as two sisters-in-law (Barbara Starr McKenna and Elizabeth Thornton McKenna) and brother-in-law Bernard J. McComiskey.

Ellen died as she lived: with quiet strength and great dignity. She is characterized by intelligence, wisdom, humor, grace, and quiet acceptance which touched all with whom she came in contact over her long life.

Remains have been cremated and a service and burial will be held at St. Faith’s Church, Vancouver, June 18, 2016 at 10:00am. A memorial service will take place at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Nelson, April 16th at 10:00am. In lieu of flowers donations to St. Saviour’s Food Pantry and Stephen Lewis Foundation gratefully appreciated.


“I will arise and go now…”


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From: Thompson Funeral Service Staff

Thompson Funeral Service Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

Service Schedule

  Funeral Service

Date & Time:
April 16, 2016
Beginning at 10:00am

St. Saviour''s Anglican Church

Nelson, BC Canada

Nelson, BC Canada

Memorial Gifts

The family has not designated a preferred charity at this time.

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