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the survivors

By Craig Spence, November 2012

Deep roots in Victoria and a love of life have blessed both Joyce Clearihue and this city.

If Joyce Clearihue were going to have a family motto tacked to the door of her summer home on Patricia Bay, it would say: “The head rules the heart.” And right under the main statement would be a subtext proclaiming: “No regrets.”

At 85, Joyce is “easing up” a bit. She has decided she can relax, and spend more time meditating in her “favourite place in the whole world”—the beach in front of her “Summertrees” property. But you get the feeling it isn’t so much a case of the sun setting on her golden years, as her giving it leave to glow on a horizon of her choosing. The sense of realism, determination and purpose that have always been central to her personality still rule. 

By Linda Rogers, July/August 2012

Founding member Fran Thoburn represents Raging Grannies everywhere on the eve of their 25th anniversary.

“Where does the trickster gene come from?” I ask my subject. Eighty-years young, the woman who has had two knee replacements locks her bike in front of Green Cuisine before she answers, as we sit down for tea at a bench in Market Square. 

Except for one aberrant moment when her mother voted for FDR and the New Deal, causing a paternal meltdown, Fran Thoburn reports that her Cleveland, Ohio, antecedents were upper middle-class Republicans, neither dust-eaters nor dust-disturbers.

“As a kid growing up on my grandmother’s 12 acres along Lake Erie, my happiest times were running across her huge lawns with my dogs, climbing trees, early morning raids on her raspberry bushes, playing hide and seek in her barn—all beyond the reach of my parents. Being free has always been important for me.”

By Marilyn McCrimmon, June 2012

Dr Ken Williams, now 96 and a former high rigger, credits lessons learned from logging with guiding his work in medicine.

Social responsibility and personal accountability are the values that Dr Ken Williams passionately believes in and lives by. Ken’s extensive educational credentials coupled with his vast experience, first as a logger in BC’s forests, and then as a physician and finally as an international medical administrator, inform his strongly held opinions. Ken is not afraid to say what he thinks, and in fact, until he retired, health care organizations around the world would hire him to do just that.

By Marilyn McCrimmon, May 2012

For 84-year-old Connie Shaw, slowing down means skipping the race and just doing it for fun.

"I wonder if I can do that,” says Connie Shaw when she encounters a new opportunity. The answer is usually “yes.” Yes, she could start running marathons in her 40s. Yes, she could start doing triathlons in her late 50s, and continue competing in them well into her late 70s.

By Leslie Campbell, April 2012

The right of public access to the waterfront has been a hallmark of Peter Pollen’s long service to the community.

PETER POLLEN HAS BEEN OFFICIALLY RETIRED from business and politics for many years now, but he still likes to talk about them. During our wide-ranging conversation in his gracious Uplands home, I had to work hard to keep the focus on his life—he often seemed to be trying to interview me. 

The den we meet in looks out onto a Garry oak meadow, with feeders attracting many chattering birds. The room is full of art—including a large Herbert Siebner—and family photos and books. Pollen is an avid reader, especially of Shakespeare and history. Today he has The Collected Essays of George Orwell open.

His wife MaryAnn brings us tea, then joins the conversation and is especially good at recalling specific dates and names as we drill down through the decades.