October 8, 1949 – April 25, 2023
It is with deep sorrow and much love that we mourn the passing of Bruce Haywood-Farmer on April 25, 2023, in Vancouver at 73 years of age.
Bruce was born on October 8, 1949. Bruce had a ‘free range’ active upbringing in Trail, leaving at age 17 to attend Notre Dame College in Nelson, and later U.B.C. in Vancouver, where he met Barbara Cornfield at a residence dance, his first and only sweetheart. They were married in 1971 and continued to love to dance together for the following 52 years.
Bruce, the beloved role model of our family, will be missed by his wife, Barbara, his daughters, Sandra (Mike Robson), Leanne (Greg Noonan), Kirsten (Michelle Haywood-Farmer), his grandchildren, Lucas, Joshua, Jacob, Kate, Kaelis, Grace, and Emily, brother, Ian, and sisters, Marie (Philip Goody), Laurel (Marvin Penner), sister-in-law, Betty (Bob Wetmore) and many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Bruce, the eldest child, was brought up in a loving and educationally stimulating home. Bruce’s grandma, Ann McLeod, inspired him with her kindness, wisdom, thirst for knowledge and talent for storytelling. His mother, Bertha (McLeod), a nurse, and father, Robert Haywood-Farmer, an engineer, encouraged Bruce to be his unique self. Mealtimes were the time for sharing information, and expressing ideas, parents and children alike. Bruce grew to excel at debate and public speaking. In his teens, Bruce spent his summers in the Kamloops area working on the ranch which belonged to his mother’s brother, Uncle Norman, or, when needed, working on the ranches owned by his father’s family as well. His cousins Jim and Bobby Haywood-Farmer were special friends. Bruce enjoyed these experiences immensely and would often tell stories about these times to his daughters. Due to his work on the ranches, Bruce was instilled with a life long work ethic.
Bruce’s strengths included his clever mind, mischievous sense of humour, drive to learn new things, love of music and physical activity, passion for social justice, and enduring devotion to family which he demonstrated through actions as well as words. When his first children, twin daughters, were born, he fearlessly and lovingly assisted in the Intensive Care unit. Bruce would also frequently visit his aging parents in Trail when he was traveling to the area as part of his Union work.
Of Bruce’s early years, his mother told the story of how he would wake up each morning calling out; “Today, today, today!” Bruce maintained that attitude of optimism and joy throughout his life, even through difficult times. He was an adoring husband, an engaged parent, a caring son, a supportive father-in-law, and a terrible tease of a brother, at times. He reached out to help others, in his family, at his workplace, in his union, and in his community.
Bruce was always interested and aware of what was going on in Provincial and Federal politics and he established the routine of listening to Barbara Frum at dinner time. Bruce had an extensive knowledge about a huge range of topics including history, music, and sports and he loved to discuss ideas and opinions. As a result, he inspired his daughters’ knowledge of current events.
Bruce volunteered. For many years, he was actively involved in politics supporting his candidates of choice and eventually becoming president of the Kensington Constituency Association. It was an exciting and fulfilling time when Ujjal Dosanjh was the candidate. In his Union, he was elected as a representative and sat on over 8 boards as a pension advisor. He even had time to be the PAC president at his daughters’ elementary school.
Having started his career with B.C. Hydro at 21 years old, as a meter reader, he changed jobs often to challenge himself. After many years and many changes of his employer’s name, at retirement time he was at the highest pay level within the union positions, a technologist in the System’s Planning Department with Fortis B.C. He was able to retire at 55 and start a specialized consulting practise.
Travel and family vacations were important to Bruce. From 1982, his family gathered, in the summer months, at his parents’ vacation home on the west arm of Kootenay Lake, in Balfour B.C., and spent many happy years socializing with childhood friends and extended family. Bruce often rescued Barb, with the motorboat, from her failed early attempts at windsurfing, and piloted the boat while his daughters water-skied Another highlight was a family trip across Canada, pulling a tent trailer. Bruce was methodical about putting up and taking down the tent trailer, with his daughters assigned their part in the process. Bruce’s love of reading, and the fact that it was passed down to his daughters, was evidenced by the 45 library books that came along on this trip. Bruce’s planning, energy, and enthusiasm made this a fun and educational trip for all of us.
On Bruce and Barb’s twenty-fifth anniversary, they did a back packing trip for 6 weeks through Europe that included Prague and Budapest. In retirement, two Rick Steves trips and some cruises were enjoyed. The destinations included Mexico, Hawaii, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and Northern Europe. While traveling with Barb, he enjoyed spending many hours in museums and galleries. Bruce had a great appreciation for art and for making connections between artifacts and their relevance to historical events.
Another very special trip was when Barb drove Bruce to his 50-year school reunion in Trail. They were welcomed by the local participants, and Bruce’s basketball teammates and their partners. They explored all the neighbourhoods on foot and had coffee after the main events with special friends.
Bruce’s active endeavors included Nordic skiing, roller blading, ice skating, tennis, and bocce. All of these done at 40 plus years of age with Barb as an enthusiastic partner. Even though Bruce faced harsh diagnoses; in 2010, prostate cancer and in 2016 dementia, his ability to enjoy life continued. Bruce got great joy and excitement out of doing any activity with his wife and with his smart, active, growing grandchildren. They enjoyed the way Grandpa put expression into the stories that he read to them and the love he gave them unconditionally. Bruce loved to watch his grandchildren participate in many active pursuits, including soccer.
Bruce and Barb started their family young. In order to house them, Bruce taught himself every trade needed in house construction because the place they could afford needed everything, new wiring and cement foundations to name a couple. Bruce’s hard work and ingenuity allowed them to sell their first house after ten years and to buy a beautiful second home. It is in this home that Barb still lives today.
We, his family, find it difficult to express in words the profound loss we feel on Bruce’s passing. He was so deeply loved, and he was a truly selfless person, who taught us all to be patient, kind, hopeful and resilient.
We are grateful to Bruce’s brother, Ian. Over many years, he supported Bruce to participate in cooking extended family dinners and took him on weekly adventures.
We are thankful for the personalized, attentive loving care and recreation provided during Bruce’s last year and a half of life by Columbus Residence. A small gathering was held for the immediate family in May to celebrate Bruce and to remember happy times.
A suggestion, for those who are interested, would be a contribution to Paul’s Club, a day program geared for those experiencing symptoms of young-onset dementia. Bruce loved this program and received love in return from the staff. For more information, please visit their website below.