Eleanor Catherine Kerr nee Cameron, longtime resident of Mission City (1948 – 1965) and White Rock (1976 – 200), passed from the cherishing presence of her family into a different life on February 27, 2004. Eleanor’s birth November 24, 1911 graced Cliff and Kate Cameron of Victoria with the first of eight children, of whom sisters Ruth Watson of Langford and Olivia Duncan of Vancouver survive their eldest sister, as do brothers Ken Cameron of Metchosin and Bob Cameron of View Royal. Eleanor leaves daughters Penny Ball, Catherine Kerr (Sylvia Holland), Linda (Paul) McMullan; granddaughters Lisa (Mark) Kean, Brenda Ball (Sandy Bucifal), and Elizabeth Riddle; grandson Christopher Riddle; great grandchildren Lauren and Madeleine Kean and Ben Bucifal; and longtime family friend Ed Kopera.
In her youth, Eleanor loved canoeing, dancing, music – and tennis, for which she admitted cutting Home Economics class. In the 1930s, Eleanor wrenched herself away from her beloved family to pursue the career in teaching that she had imagined for herself since the age of five, when she was found instructing an attentive cluster of sunflowers. Her first assignment was a one-room school on Thurston Island, where she taught no less than nine grades. At a later post, Balfour, “Cam” skied with her students on equipment that would turn today’s orthopaedists pale. No less adventurous was accepting the vice principal’s role at Matsqui School, where she energetically added choral singing and folk dancing to the students’ regime of the three Rs. In Matsqui she met her future husband, Earle Kerr, and after brief sojourns as newlyweds in Vancouver and new parents on Sea Island, they moved to the Mission area.
Eleanor taught Sunday School at St. Andrew’s United Church and sang alto in the Mission Music Makers for many years. In the early 1950s, she established a small private kindergarten in Mission, operating morning classes until the Kerr daughters were grown and until changes in the school system enabled Eleanor to accept posts in two districts consecutively (Salmon Arm and Coquitlam) before joining her husband in retirement in White Rock. The Kerrs were keen bridge players, so she continued making new friends through card games and neighbourhood contacts. Widowed in 1985, she kept her independent household, her quirky sense of humour and her merry laugh until her health failed in the late 1990s. She never lost her independent spirit.
Eleanor’s recent years were lived in extended care at Holy Family Hospital in Vancouver, where all three daughters could regularly bring life and laughter into her room and where the sensitivity and competence of staff under director of nursing Sue Higginbotham eased her transitions. During Eleanor’s last hours, family were close at hand and were grateful witnesses to the skill and compassion of Emergency staff at Vancouver General Hospital, especially Gert Lee.
Cremation has been entrusted to Walkey and Company of Vancouver. A memorial gathering for the family will be arranged later in the year. As to flowers, Eleanor loved violets and would be well remembered by a planting of fragrant perennials in her name, or, if a commemorative gift is preferred, a donation to the Canadian Diabetes Society.