Doreen Annie Courtney (nee Birch)

May 25, 1929 – Jan 3, 2018
Doreen Annie Courtney (nee Birch) passed away peacefully at Laurel Place Hospice, Surrey BC on January 3, 2018 following a brief illness. At the time of her passing, her loving husband Gale and daughter Marilyn were by her side. Doreen was 88 years of age.

Doreen was born in Fort William, Ontario on May 25, 1929. She graduated from Fort William Collegiate Institute and received a diploma from Fort William Business College. During her working career, Doreen was a bookkeeper for a number of local business, including the family business and the Thunder Bay Library. In 1977 Doreen and Gale moved from Thunder Bay to Delta, BC where she worked as a bookkeeper for the Delta School Board and continued performing in local musicals and church choirs.

On her retirement, Doreen and Gale purchased a dairy farm in Ebenezer, PEI where they lived for 20 years, enjoying the companionship of new and dear friends and welcoming the birth of many jersey calves. During this time, Doreen contributed many volunteer hours to a local educational program tutoring young students, helping them to strengthen their reading skills. In 2014, Doreen and Gale moved once more, to Surrey BC where they lived with their daughter Marilyn and her husband Jim.

A lifelong lover of the performing arts, Doreen participated in the chorus of the 1967 Centennial presentation in Fort William of Lerner and Lowe’s Brigadoon. Doreen went on to participate in numerous musicals as a member of the Lakehead Choral Group: including Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma, Wright and Forrest’s Kismet (from the music of Borodin). She also appeared in a variety of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas including: Iolanthe, H.M.S Pinafore, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, Yeoman of the Guard, and The Gondoliers. Additionally, Doreen performed in The Lakehead Symphony Orchestra Chorus (now the Thunder Bay Symphony Chorus) in several local presentations including: Handel’s Messiah, Sibelius’s Finlandia and Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor. In a number of these performances, she was joined by sons David, Warren, and Tim which was a source of great joy to her. In her last performance, Doreen, along with son Tim, joined the Vancouver Bach Choir in a “sing along” performance of Handel’s Messiah in December 2014.

Doreen was predeceased by her parents Joseph Birch (1886 – 1968) and Kathleen Flett (1909 – 1999), her brother Joseph Birch (1931-2007), sister Myrtle Flett (1936-1999), brother R. Bruce Flett (1938- 2017) and her eldest son Lyle (1949 -2011).

Doreen is survived by her husband of 69 years Gale Courtney, sons: David, Warren (Dorothy), Andrew, Timothy (Patty) and daughter Marilyn (Jim) Fotinakis, seventeen grandchildren, eighteen greatgrandchildren and one great-great grandson.

Doreen is also survived by her twin sister Corinne Polhill of Thunder Bay, and sister Judith Eby of Delta BC.

A “Celebration of Life” will be held in Surrey BC on January 27, 2018 and a further celebration will be held in Thunder Bay after interment in the former St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Thunder Bay (on a yet to be named date later this spring).

At the request of the family, donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society in lieu of flowers.

The Courtney family wishes to express their thanks for the wonderful and compassionate care provided by medical staff at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Laurel Place Hospice.


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