Beryl Preston May 18, 1933 – August 12, 2019
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Beryl Preston (nee Penny). Beryl was born in Billesdon, in Leicester County, England on May 18, 1933. She passed away peacefully in the Chemainus Health Care Centre on August 12, 2019. She was surrounded with the love of her family, and children. Beryl’s son, Kenton and his partner Patty visited her just the week before, and her son, David spoke with her on the phone from Ottawa. Her daughter Nicole, and her friends of many years, Debra and Teresa were at her bedside at the end.
A Celebration of Beryl’s Life will be held at 2pm on August 29, 2019 at St. Michael’s and All Angels Anglican Church, 2858 Mill Street, Chemainus, BC.
She was predeceased by her husband Derek Franklyn, former husband (Peter) David Preston, her sisters Margaret (Peggy), and Sheila, and her brothers Keith and Roy. She is survived by her brother Malcolm, and her loving friend, and companion, Keith Parsins, and her four children, Kenton, Mitchell, Nicole and David, and all her grandchildren.
Beryl was one of 6 children. She was very artistic and creatively inclined and won a partial scholarship to art school, but was unable to attend. At 17, she went to live with her sister Peggy and husband, Arthur (Smudge) in Devon. During this time, she became close with her nephew Paul and nieces Karen and Janice. Around the same time, Beryl’s brother Keith had his first two children, and Beryl became especially close to her niece Carol. In addition to meeting during trips, they kept up a written correspondence until Beryl’s passing. Beryl loved her family and did her best to fly back to England for Weddings, or new births. She would have loved to live closer to her family, but all her own children were raised in Canada, and Beryl did love BC.
Beryl wasn’t much older than 18 when she met Peter (Dave) Preston and fell in love. She and Dave came to Canada prior to 1957 when her son, Kenton was born in Ocean Falls. She went back to England for a few years, where her son Mitchell, and daughter Nicole were born, but returned again and her last child, David was born in Vancouver. Throughout our childhood, mother continued to demonstrate her creativity and determination. She sewed clothes, baked bread, and made all of our food from scratch, which was more of the norm in those days. Beryl delved into a broad array of creative arts: she wrote poetry, sculpted, painted, and sewed toys, like her signature Easter Bunnies, and taught her children a number of crafts, such as how to draw, Pysanky Ukrainian egg painting, and embroidery. She continued to write, sew, paint, and make Christmas crafts throughout her life. She made British soldiers out of clothes pins and horses head covers for candy canes for Christmas.
Another creative outlet that Beryl loved was gardening. Her home and her garden were always her palette and she made sure they were beautiful. She seemed to know all the names of all the plants and recited them to her daughter as they walked through the garden.
Beryl was a force to be contended with. When she wanted to do something or see something done, she did it. In the 60-70’s, she worked tirelessly with her then husband Dave Preston, and Lorne Atkinson, and his wife, Evelyn in organizing bicycle races throughout Vancouver, including the Gastown Grand Prix and various road races, bike trials and helped with organizing the re-construction of the China Creek Velodrome (No longer there – was located where King Edward College was built on East Broadway in Vancouver). The work this group did formed the basis of what is now the B.C. Cycling Association.
Once Beryl moved to Chemainus, she contributed her seemingly endless energy to volunteering at the Chemainus Health Care Centre, the Auxiliary Gift Store, performing with the Glitter Gals at the Seniors Centre, and entertaining with the Red Hats. One of her fortes was comedy characters, as she delighted in making people laugh.
On August 15, 1984, Beryl received her Certificate of Canadian Citizenship. Beryl was proud to be a Canadian Citizen. As a celebration, she requested Canadian flags from the government, as they used to give the old ones away, and on Canada Day in 1985, she put those up, along with a British Columbia flag and a United Kingdom flag, and her first ever Canada Day Garage Sale. She cooked and baked food which she gave to anyone that came, and invited others to join her. Over the years, she continued this celebration. Beryl lived in Vancouver for much of her adult life, but moved to Maple Bay in 1986, and subsequently to Chemainus a few years later. She continued her Canada Day celebrations throughout this time and in 2010, she wanted to share this celebration with all of Chemainus, so she applied to have a Canada Day Garage Sale in Waterwheel park, and accepted assistance from a young woman who wanted to help make this happen. Now, mom’s tradition has become Chemainus’s tradition, and it has grown so much that recent events have drawn 1,200 people!
In her later years, Beryl lived with dementia, but even in this phase of her life, her humour, love of music, and unique character shone through. Mom’s love of music stayed with her to the end and even with the indignities of advanced dementia she could still sing along to old favorites. Our family would like to thank the staff of the Chemainus Health Care Centre for the exceptional care and love which they provided mom over the last three years. We would also like to thank mom’s Companions, and friends who provided additional love and entertainment during this time.
In her memory we ask that you make someone laugh, tell your family you love them, or simply complete a random act of kindness. If you wish to honor her with a gift, in lieu of flowers, we suggest that you donate to a cause of your choice on Beryl’s behalf.
To send flowers to Beryl's family, please visit our floral section.