It is with regret and sadness that the family of Nancy Keith-Murray announces her death on Nov. 24, 2008 at the age of 100 due to natural causes at her home in Meadowbrook Seniors’ Residence.
Born in Vancouver on Aug. 8, 1908 to May and Henri Gautschi, who had emigrated from England in 1904, Nancy lived a full life during her one hundred years. Schooled at the Sacred Heart Convent in Vancouver, she attended finishing school in Geneva, Switzerland.
After graduation she returned to Vancouver and took a lead role in the running of her parents’ hair salon, Maison Henri. Voyaging back to Switzerland in 1931, she met David Keith-Murray, a handsome tea plantation manager on his way home to England from India. They became engaged soon after arrival in England.
Marriage followed a year later, and three children were born in the years prior to World War II. In 1945, Nancy and her children returned to Canada through the historic Pier 21 in Halifax, traveling by train to Vancouver. David joined her there after being posted to Ceylon for a year.
Nancy held positions in retail management, and eventually transferred to UBC where she held a senior administrative role in the President’s Office. She and David visited Salt Spring in the mid-60’s, considering it for retirement. Unhappily, he died far too early in 1968, and Nancy came on her own in 1972.
She became a vibrant force in the Salt Spring community, lending her considerable energies to the Library, Greenwoods, Trail and Nature, and Gardening clubs, as well as to weavers, yoga, travel and bridge groups. She was creative, active, organized and productive. She offered generous financial support to many community groups. Her beloved house on Mt. Baker Crescent, designed by Hank Schubart, was a great source of joy and a showplace for her magnificent gardening skills and knowledge. The house was so well designed that she was able to live in it until she was 97 years of age. Moving into Meadowbrook she immediately planted a garden. Just days before she died, three sweet peas were picked from her garden giving her immense pleasure as she smelled the lovely scent.
She lived to enjoy her 100th birthday celebration in August where she was the recipient of much love, respect and admiration from her many friends and members of the family. She credited her longevity to healthy living, friendships, bridge, yoga, a lifelong thirst of learning and reading and the occasional Scotch or martini.
Nancy was predeceased by her husband David, and her brother Edward. She will be sadly missed by her three children, Peter, Marnie and Mark, her grandchildren, Andrea, Chris, Colin, Drew, Leslie, Paul and Wayne, and her great grandchildren.
Many, many thanks to her wonderful care givers from Beacon, especially her marvellous Joyce and Becca, private caregivers Kirsty and Marnie2 who were gems, the palliative nurses and her beloved Dr. David Woodley who helped Nancy achieve her final wish; to die in her own home.
It is Nancy’s wish that there be no formal service. In lieu of flowers, Nancy would have encouraged donations to the Library, SS Island Foundation, Greenwoods and Lady Minto Hospital.