December 23, 1931—May 4, 2018
Hilda passed peacefully on Friday, May 4th at Squamish Hospital. She was born in Alberta and was the youngest and only remaining member of her immediate family—the Thirlwells. In 1953 Hilda married Steve, who predeceased her in 2013. She leaves those whose lives she most enriched with generosity and love: her daughter, Deborah, and her partner Biff Carr-Hilton, of Comox; her son, Bill, and his wife, Diana Geller, and their three children, of Squamish. Hannah, Oliver and Callum were her great joy; their youth was embellished with Mickey sheets, nanny-made projects, fresh buns and blueberry cheesecake; mantel pictures taken at soccer fields, on golf courses, and in the island surf chronicled their changing lives. Her pride in their achievements and the knowledge that they are successfully off on their respective journeys brought her contentment.
Education was always been an important element of Hilda’s life: she attended school in Robb, Alberta, graduated from Langley Secondary in 1949, received her psychiatric nursing certification in 1951, and was a self-taught bookkeeper. Hilda took to the twisting Squamish highway in the 70s and devoted her time as well as her managing and negotiating skills to two institutions. Her most fulfilling time was her involvement at Capilano College, which she was instrumental in bringing to Squamish; she served as a member of the Board (‘68-‘81) and as Chairman of the Board (’81-‘88). Her continued interest in the role of postsecondary education prompted her move to BCIT where she served on the board (‘88-’92) and was Vice Chairman (’91-’92). She became an honorary life member with the Advanced Education Council of BC in ‘99.
Her commitment to the life of communities made her thrive. She grew up in Robb, Alberta and Langley, BC, but it was her move to Mahatta River on the edge of Quatsino Sound in the 50s with Steve and her young family that cultivated her sense of community. Isolation was no match for Hilda who played tennis (they built the courts first!), organized celebrations, sewed every manner of elaborate costumes for Hallowe’en parades and Christmas pageants, and began an enduring love of cooking, all the while maintaining her stylish ways in stretch pants, a beehive hairdo, and by frequent mail orders from Saba’s. Their move to Squamish in 1964 served to expand her talents: she became a Lady Lions Club member and ran Timber Queen for Loggers Sports. Her bookkeeping office, soon tied to Smythe and Radcliffe, on Cleveland was a hub not only at payroll and tax time but as place out of which she navigated her many activities. At Marina Estates she reaffirmed her role as someone who loved a competently run meeting, and she was instrumental in facilitating building remediation. Lately, she was devoted to Hilltop House, its Friday night dinner and knitting group.
Her active role in each community fostered the lifelong friends central to Hilda’s life. She maintained her friendships from her early years in Langley, cherished the fifty years of connections to those in Mahatta River, and relied heavily on those established when Squamish was a small, tight community with her hub around CRB, Hilda’s Bookkeeping and The Chieftan Hotel; she relished putting on a natty hat and meeting the ladies for coffee. Her time at Cap and BCIT expanded her relationships; they withstood politics and are testimony to her gregarious ways. Her recent friendships created by her participation in the quilters’ guild, by shared experiences at Hilltop House, and by trust, companionship and dinner hour at Marina Estates sustained her in every way and are no less cherished for their brevity. It was her friends who shared much laugher, appreciated her sense of style, and honoured the daily 9:30 phone call.
Thank you to Dr Stelzle, who was indeed a friend, and to the devoted nurses who tended to Hilda; we are very grateful for your compassion. In lieu of flowers, Hilda can best be remembered by donations to The Squamish Hospital Foundation or The Squamish Community Foundation. An informal reception will be held in June, and a legacy planting will be established at a later date.