February 2, 1947 – October 24, 2020
It is with great sadness that we share news of the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father, brother (in-law), grandpa and friend Ronald William Burrell on October 24, 2020 of a heart attack.
Ronnie was born on February 02, 1947 in Harvey, New Brunswick to Agatha (McCue) and Ronald Burrell. Both his big brother, David (Viota) in Riverview, New Brunswick and his younger brother Charlie (Dawn) in Sproat Lake grew up with him in New Brunswick and will continue to crack jokes here on earth in his memory. Ron joined the Student Militia in New Brunswick from 1963 to 1965 (rank: Corporal) and learned many outdoor skills and also how to make a perfect bed.
Judith Elspeth (Eppie) Burrell (MacKnight) met Ron at University of New Brunswick (UNB) in 1968 where she was a star student in the nursing program. Ron was some glad he met Eppie because she helped him buckle down and study to complete his degree in Forestry.
Ron loved the forest, nature and the wild and he was able to have a long career in Forestry launching off of that good education at UNB. Eppie married Ronnie on September 04 1970 and they quickly started a life of experiences heading on a grand adventure to Malaysia and other far flung places with the Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO).
They came back to Canada in 1974, pregnant! Ron got work as an Inventory Specialist with the BC Ministry of Forests and they moved all the way west to Victoria, having their first daughter Sarah Burrell (Peter) in 1974. Moving to Prince Rupert in 1976 because Ron became a Silviculture Specialist and both Ron and Eppie preferred smaller communities, they settled in and they were blessed with a second daughter Emily Burrell (David) in 1979. Having produced two perfect girls, they decided their family was complete.
The family moved to Mackenzie in 1980 for Ron’s work and he took up every past time he could from pottery to swimming lessons, from hunting and skiing to learning the first MicroSoft DOS and hosting fun potlucks. Ron made many lifelong friends in Mackenzie including Roger and Cathy Roy.
He was an approachable, funny, playful, and loyal friend, and this made it easy for many people to enjoy his company. As an Operations Manager with the Forest Service, he got to spend lots of time in the great outdoors. Camping with his family in the wild was definitely his happy place.
In 1985, Ron got an Operations Manager position in Campbell River and Island life began for the Burrells. Ron joined the Noon Rotary Club in 1988 and soon Ron and the family was swept up in hosting International Exchange students (8), helping out at the annual Rotary Auction, flipping pancakes at the Annual Fathers Day breakfast, leading projects and taking his turn as President of Rotary.
He also became very involved in the Campbell River Salmon Kings and Killer Whales swim clubs, taking on tarping the entire Centennial Pool deck for the swim meet as Equipment Manager for numerous years and doing his share of cheering for his girls at the pool.
During this time he also started to get more interested in nature photography and extreme hiking. Ron, Cathy, Roger and Eppie completed the Great Walk in 1997 and 1998 and did the West Cost Trail with many training trips to Cape Scott and shopping at Spinner Sports so that Craig could convince them of the next awesome contraption to take camping and into the wild.
Ron was deeply involved in protection of the Beaver Lodge Lands and was continually active in the Beaver Lodge Trust Committee since its creation in 1993. Ron was a Greenways Director from its creation in 1996, through 2013, and served as President from 2001-2005, 2008 and 2009. Sandra Milligan, current President of the Greenways Land Trust writes: “Just last Tuesday Oct 20, he was advocating strongly to protect stream habitat from an ill-placed ATV trail and agreed to be champion of a project to have bathrooms installed in Beaver Lodge.
When I moved to town in 2003, his name was always in the paper, I thought, ‘Wow – that guy is getting stuff done.’ He inspired me, but he also kicked my ass and said, “We need to do something…”, and so we tried, and we try, and now we will keep on trying, because he wouldn’t have stopped trying.
For me, he’ll never be gone. I’ll still hear his voice pushing me forward to protect Nature that can’t protect itself.” For our family, Sandra’s musings sum up Ron’s stubbornness and persistence and of how Ron showed up for nature, the wild and the environment again and again.
Ron retired in 2002 and took every advantage of retirement. He dove into his passions and interests. He acquired a horse named Sherman and took up horseback riding, which lasted until he decided mucking stalls and falling off Sherman breaking his ribs might be too dear a price for the hobby.
He bought a motorcycle and had a great time wearing ‘Born to be wild’ kerchiefs and motoring all over British Columbia with friends. Once Eppie retired in 2006, they bought a truck and camper and started the snowbird life with winters in La Penita, Mexico and later El Centro, California.
Ron and Eppie had a heck of a time playing golf, enjoying happy hours, seeing all the sights, laughing, and connecting with other snowbirds from across North America over the last 14 years. During this time period, in 2009, Emily and her husband David blessed our family with a gorgeous grandson named Jacob William Fandrich. Jacob is the apple of Ron’s eye and Jacob’s humour and long legs and arms definitely came from Ronnie’s genes.
Ron and Eppie enjoyed a great camping trip this past August with Emily and her family at Ghost Lake, Alberta where they were able to connect, play and enjoy the views. Spending time with his Grandson was very special to Ron and they had many private jokes together.
Ron also loved dogs and he liked to play guitar with the dogs in the room listening, cause the humans didn’t always appreciate it. We really hope Ronnie’s exploring the heavenly outdoors and snuggling up together during rest with Buffy, Boomer, Grapple, Molly, Avi, and Jaffee.
Ron and his good friend and sister-in-law Anne spent many happy times walking the dogs all over the woodlands of Campbell River and watching endless hours of Lonesome Dove, Deadwood, hockey and football games.
Ron was surprised by Sarah and Emily on Oct 13 with the newest canine edition to the family, Deedee. Deedee and Ronnie got to know each other for 10 beautiful days and she gave him so much joy and sparkle.
These last 18 months, Ron finally got into using social media. He loved posting on Facebook and connecting with friends. It’s wonderful for all of us now that we have those posts to look back upon and he so enjoyed taking nature pictures and dog pictures and selfies and sharing interesting forest trivia.
He liked to be the life of the party, be a jokester, educate and have an audience and Facebook checked those boxes for him in the last year, especially when COVID kept us all apart.
Bob Dice shared: Joseph Campbell said that ‘The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.’ Ron was one of a kind, after which they broke the mold. He was friend and mentor. He was a leader, dedicated to the environment and to a life in Public Service and his volunteerism in the Beaverlodge Trust, the Greenway Land Trust, Rotary and civic politics (with 2 mayors elected).
I recall one year in which Ron was President of Rotary, President of Greenways Land Trust, and Chair of the Beaverlodge Trust. Ron had a big heart and a trusted internal compass, anywhere he lead, we were proud to follow. He will be missed.
Thank you to Danny at Island Funeral Services and to the staff at Campbell River Hospital Emergency Department. Thank you to all of the friends and family that have reached out to us sending love, thoughts, prayers, food and flowers. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Greenways Land Trust.
And also, if we forgot anyone or event, please accept our apologizes, this is a hard time. A celebration of life will be held when COVID protocols allow.
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