Mearnie Irene SUMMERS

Mearnie Irene Summers

January 26, 1927 – January 7, 2017

Mearnie lived an amazing life of adventure, achievement, loving relationships and public service.

She grew up in Vancouver. She excelled at sports and played on many winning teams, including a professional softball team, the Chicago Bluebirds. She taught physical education and dance at John Oliver High School and then several other schools and 3 universities, becoming a consultant for the Vancouver School Board.

Mearnie started square-dance calling while still at university and became a nationally-known caller. She took up sailing in the 1950’s and sailed to Tahiti. She was the first woman to sail alone around Vancouver Island. At the age of 27 Mearnie was diagnosed with cancer and had a double mastectomy. Through her life she supported women with breast cancer. Mearnie retired early from teaching and bought a store at Surge Narrows on Read Island, which she ran with then partner Jean Brown.

Mearnie met Caffyn Jesse Kelley in 1984 and they became life partners in 1986. They lived at a remote property north of Vancouver with a waterwheel generator. Mearnie worked running barges and building floats. They loved sailing. Mearnie and Caffyn were married in 2004, when it became legally possible to do so.

After they moved to Salt Spring Island in 1996, Mearnie was a founding member of GLOSSI (Gays and Lesbians of Salt Spring Island). After becoming aware of the story of Japanese Canadians who were interned during WWII, she launched and worked for 10 years on the Heiwa Garden of unity and reconciliation. She continued teaching, offering private dance lessons and chainsaw lessons. She took up rustic furniture making and became a highly regarded craftsperson.

The last 10 years of Mearnie’s life were plagued by increasing ill health. In almost 4 years at Greenwoods, Mearnie found much joy in a box-making enterprise, loving relationships, ice cream and hours of song. The people at Greenwoods offered the finest and most compassionate care that could ever be wished. In addition we owe special thanks to Maha, Tula, Marion, Neith, Kate and Shirley. Mearnie died in Caffyn’s arms, surrounded by love.

A celebration of Mearnie’s life will be held at a later time. Please contact Caffyn Caffyn.j@gmail.com if you would like to be notified. No flowers please! Your memories and condolences are welcomed.

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