Family regret to announce the passing of a very special lady, Joan Ferguson, in Sicamous on April 29th, 2009, at the age of 75, following a six year battle with cancer. Joan was above all, a gardener. Whether she was growing her four children and twelve grandchildren, nurturing hundreds of her students, cultivating life-long friendships or simply tending her garden, Joan shaped the lives of those she touched in a positive meaningful and enduring way.
Joan Chamings was born on November 26, 1933 in Vernon, BC to Harry and Tilley Chamings. Joan and her younger brother, Alan, grew up in Lumby alongside their Schunter cousins. Margaret Cassidy (Aunt Marg) played an instrumental role when Joan’s mom passed away, mentoring Joan through her journey in life. Joan loved music and enjoyed playing piano for family and friends throughout her life. She graduated from VHS in 1951 and pursued her passion for teaching, completing a Bachelor of Education and her Master of Education. Joan specialized in the primary grades beginning her lifelong career in the Arrowhead District, followed by postings in Chilliwack, Cache Creek, Armstrong and Vernon. Joan always maintained an active participation in the community through her church activities, singing with the choristers, playing bagpipes with the MacIntosh Girls’ Pipe Band and later with the Shuswap Pipes and Drums.
In 1956, Joan married Stuart Ferguson and together they had four children, Heather, Jim, Derek and Rob. In 1972, Joan summoned the strength to leave the marriage and raised all four children on her own, often taking extra jobs including working summers in the kitchen at the Vernon Army Cadet Camp. Even though she would wake at 4:30 a.m. to circle the local park for pop bottles and cans to make ends meet, she never failed to give her time to friends in need. She would never ask for anything in return, firmly believing that helping friends and neighbours was just something that you did because it was the right thing to do. That was Joan.
In 1996, Joan retired from teaching in Vernon and moved to Sicamous. She had purchased a cabin on Mara Lake and fell in love with the community. Joan, who was never one to sit around, quickly integrated herself into the Sicamous family, becoming active in the local United Church. She turned her yard into an oasis for local birds and loved to sit and watch the hummingbirds. Although she was diagnosed with cancer in April, 2003 and underwent extensive treatment, she maintained her positive outlook on life. Following her treatment, she became involved with the local Dragon Boat racing group, successfully competing in the BC Seniors’ Summer Games, winning both bronze and gold medals. In her final days, she confided that she would greatly miss the early mornings on the lake, watching the sun come up, looking at the eagles and listening to the beavers slap their tails.
Joan is survived by her children, Heather (Calvin) Muth of Chestermere, AB, Jim (Sandi) Ferguson of Surrey, BC, Derek (Chris) Ferguson of Petawawa, ON and Rob (Denise) Ferguson of Ottawa, ON; grandchildren, Jessica, Tara, Kristen, Jennifer, Megan, Ian, Brandon, Dylan, Rikki, Shelby, Andrew and Kaitlin; brother, Alan and family; Aunt Margaret Cassidy; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life service will take place at 2:00 p.m. on June 7, 2009, at the Sicamous United Church. In lieu of a memorial fund, nothing would make Mom happier than for people to plant a shrub, flower or put up a bird feeder to help look after her little friends in her absence. Condolences may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The family would like to thank all of the incredible people who helped mom through her journey. Joan lived her life to the fullest in the same manner that she paddled with her team…”Stronger, Harder, Deeper”. We will miss you, Mom.