It’s with sadness that we announce the passing of Irene Helen Hawksworth (nee Sims) on May 10 after a relatively short battle with cancer, something she faced with acceptance, determination and spiritual strength.
Born Sept 15, 1925 in Willoughley, Ontario, close to Niagara Falls, she was predeceased by parents Alfred and Ruth Sims, brothers Chuck, Ed and Fred, and sister Jean as well as husband Jim in 1965 and long-time companion Gordon Hutton in 1995. She is survived by loving sons Brian (Granddaughter Kenzie) and David (Marilyn), brothers Gordon (Audrey), Earl (Elda), Robert and Winston, and sister Evelyn as well as many nieces and nephews, especially niece and long-time friend Merilyn Scorse.
With her pioneering spirit, Irene moved from the Niagara Falls area in 1947 to Vancouver where she worked for the Toronto-Dominion Bank, becoming the first woman paying teller in BC, one of her many accomplishments. There she met Jim whom she married on May 5, 1949. The pioneering continued in 1955 when the young Hawksworth family moved to Salt Spring to live on their newly acquired 20 acre farm. There, Irene’s love of animals grew, becoming a successful dog obedience instructor and was the first woman competitor at the BC Sheep Dog Trials. She began the K-9 Kennels in 1959 which she successfully ran until 1970. In 1974 she met Gordon Hutton and with him took up the retirement life of bridge (she became known as the Iron Duchess), poker, travel and the continuation of the game of golf. Golf was her passion. She took up the game in 1963 at age 38 which, in the golfing world, is considered old to learn the game, let alone win tournaments. By 1967 when her name first appeared on the Shipley Cup and until her final win in 2004, the Evans Cup, her name appears no less than 40 times on many other cups, bowls and trophies competed for within the local Golf Club. This includes an impressive run of 11 Club Championship Wilson Cups from 1977 to 1988, 10 Carmichael Rose Bowls from 1971 to 1993 and 6 Salt Spring Island Invitational Championships from 1979 to1988.
The Family thanks Mom’s many friends for their love and support over the years, especially Rita Dods, her “oldest” friend on the Island since their meeting in 1956. And many thanks to Dr. David Beaver and to those at the Lady Minto Hospital who cared for her with compassion during their brief association, as well to the wonderful Hospice volunteers of the Bessie Dane Foundation.
Flowers are graciously declined by family. Please consider gifts in Mom’s memory to a wildlife organization of your choice; in her words, “They need it now”.
A Remembrance Service followed by a tea will be held at the Royal Canadian Legion Br #92 on May 21st, commencing at 1pm.