Wendy Maureen (McKelvie) Cowlin was born in Quesnel, B.C. on April 23, 1954 to loving parents, Frank and Violet McKelvie. She was doting sister to Victor (Karen) McKelvie, Monte (Kelly) McKelvie, Carle (Ken) Schisler and Kevin (Brenda) McKelvie.
She was devoted wife to Dale Cowlin and caring mother to Theresa Cowlin and Crystal (Cal) Stewart.
She was energetic grandmother to Jordan, Ryan, Justin, Colby and Jenna and wonderful friend to many.
Wendy spent most of her childhood in the Hixon and Wells areas, moving with her family to Quesnel in 1968.
Soon after, she met her future husband, Dale, and they began their own family. In addition to being a full-time mother, Wendy held many jobs in the community, including gas station owner, joint owner of Northtown Auto Clinic, casino dealer and substitute teacher, to name a few.
Wendy still found time, however, to pursue more enjoyable pastimes, and was an active member of the Quesnel Lions Club, Horseshoe Club and Bowling Lanes.
She was also a supportive mother, and could often be seen either coaching her daughters’ bowling and softball teams or cheering vigorously from the sidelines.
Wendy also loved nature, spending countless hours out driving the Cariboo back roads in search of the perfect huckleberry or blueberry patch, or out camping with family and friends.
She also enjoyed traveling, and was known to fly off to Reno, Vegas or Hawaii on a whim or hit the high seas on a Caribbean or Alaskan cruise. However, Wendy preferred watching the scenery from the comfort of her own vehicle, and she and Dale over the years explored most of B.C., much of Canada and the West Coast of the States, often with family or friends in tow. Above all else, Wendy loved spending time with the ones she loved, hitting up her favorite restaurants with the ladies on Wednesdays or with her family on other days of the week, and hanging out with her grandchildren at the swimming pool, lake or park whenever possible.
Wendy always seemed to have energy to spare, and many people didn’t realize the effort it often took for her to accomplish these everyday things. She lived life to the fullest each and every day because she knew how fragile life was, having almost lost a battle with Leukemia when she was 26 years old. She won that battle but over the remaining years of her life, her body was increasingly weakened by a Hepatitis C virus she had been infected with through the blood transfusions that had been given to save her. The Hepatitis eventually damaged her liver beyond repair and her brother, Kevin, selflessly donated a portion of his liver to her this past summer. Unfortunately due to complications, she had to undergo a second liver transplant a month later, and she never fully recovered.
Wendy passed away at Baker Memorial Hospital on January 1, 2008. A private cremation service was held at the Quesnel Cemetery on January 10, 2008 followed by a Celebration of Life service at the Quesnel Seniors Centre.
Wendy was pre-deceased by her mother, Violet, her brother-in-law, Ricky Cowlin, and her mother and father-in-law, Elizabeth and Ted Cowlin.
The McKelvie and Cowlin families would like to thank the following people: Clayton’s Funeral Service (event coordinators), the Senior Centre auxiliary (hall rental and tea service), Darcy Dyck (officiating), Steve Wallace (speaker), Quesnel Lions Club representative Ron Silver (speaker), Brad Kotzer (speaker), Chet Stewart (slideshow), Rose Gaetz (decorating).
A heartfelt thank you also goes out to all those who attended the service, including the many family and friends from out of town who braved the treacherous road conditions to attend the service. In addition, we would like to thank everyone for the kind words, the generous gifts of flowers and food, and the many donations made to the Lions Club in Wendy’s memory. We would also like to thank the Lions Club for its emotional and financial support as well as its generosity in initiating a $500 yearly bursary in Wendy’s name.
The family would also like to give special recognition to the Quesnel community as a whole for its unwavering support, both during Wendy’s illness and after her passing. Wendy was a valued member of the community for most of her life, raising a family, working, volunteering, and participating in all aspects of community life. In turn, the community also got to know and admire Wendy, whether they met her in person or not, through the many events she organized or attended and through these stories written in the newspaper over the years, chronicling her struggles with Leukemia and the resulting Hepatitis C. She was an inspiration to many people, not only for her perseverance in the face of so much suffering but also for her selfless nature, boundless energy and endless spirit. Wendy touched many lives in many ways and people have responded in kind during her, and the family’s, time of need. The overwhelming success of the Benefit Dinner and Auction held in November was a fitting tribute to such an amazing woman and we will never be able to thank everyone enough for their generosity and hard work and, above all, for putting that sparkle back in her eyes and that hope back in her heart, even if it was only for such a short time. We feel blessed to be part of such a generous, caring community.
This was written because Shareen, Carrie and Maureen (formerly the O’Flynn girls) wanted to share some of the memories of Wendy that they have. It just shows what we all already know. What an amazing, caring and selfless person she was.
Shareen has been the best of friends with Theresa since they were in high school. Right from the very start Wendy and Dale treated Shareen as a part of their family. She was always made to feel welcome. They even went so far as to take her on a family vacation to Disneyland with them. Wendy knew that Shareen would probably never get another opportunity as a youngster to go, so she simply took her along.
When Phyllis O’Flynn (the girls Mom) found herself alone with three girls to raise, Wendy once again stepped up to the plate. The girls don’t know everything that Wendy did for Phyllis but they do know the list was long. Wendy set up Phyllis’s power, gas, phone and other household bills. She taught Phyllis how to pay the bills and balance her cheque book. One day she showed up with a TV for the struggling family as she noticed they didn’t have one. Another time she showed up with a few bags of groceries to help her friend feed her children. Phyllis knew that if she needed help she had a friend to rely on.
After Phyllis died, Wendy didn’t stop being there. She saw that the middle child Carrie needed some help. Carrie was 16 years old and needed a job and a place to live.
Wendy gave her a job at her gas station and worked around her school hours. She also rented her a small apartment in the building her and Dale owned. Not many people would trust a 16 year old with paying rent, paying her bills and showing up for work. But Wendy did. That simple opportunity did so much more for that girl than Wendy or Dale will ever know.
When it came time for Carrie to graduate high school and apply for college, Wendy was there. She didn’t know much about applying for student loans, and filling our college applications, but she found someone who did. She wouldn’t hear of it when Carrie said she didn’t know if she could do it.
Wendy’s answer was “of course you can. People go to college everyday. You’re no different.” And soon Carrie was off to college.
A few years later the youngest of the girls needed some help. After being in foster care Maureen was now ready to venture out on her own. There was a pilot project to help young girls around 16 years old, to be independent. Problem was, no one wanted to rent to a 16 year old girl. No one, except Wendy, that is. Once again she stepped out and helped one of the girls out.
After a time Maureen and Wendy became employed at the same casino. It wasn’t long before the two were having lunches and coffee breaks together. Wendy just never stopped being there.
In the eyes of the O’Flynn girls Wendy was just good people who would never turn her back on them. We all three feel so fortunate to have known her and have her bless our lives.
Dale also has helped the girls in times of need. Countless vehicles have been brought to him for fixing The girls knew that Dale would always help them, and was honest and sincere.
So from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you Dale.
From our every being, thank you Wendy. You’ve touched us in so many ways.
You will be missed all of ours days.
Much love, Shareen, Carrie and Maureen
Wendy, we will never forget you
Though you’re gone too soon from this life
And we will always treasure you
Our blessed grandmother, mother and wife
You gave of yourself to others
Asking for so little in return
Always there to share the answers
From the many lessons you have learned
Often burdened in life by pain
You fought hard for all your years.
And the time that has been gained
Has had its share of trials and tears
Yet not once would we have traded
Even one moment of this time
For the precious memories won’t fade
And your star will forever shine
In the eyes of all your loved ones
And in the generations yet to come
In the stories still unspoken
And in the love that will go on
So rest your weary body now
Knowing you’ve given us this gift
And though we may say farewell
In our hearts you will forever live
Love your Family