November 21, 1936 – June 22, 2018
David Huitson died on June 22, 2018, at St. Michael’s Care Centre in Burnaby. Born in Tynemouth, England, on November 21, 1936, to Alexander Huitson and Henrietta Stroud Huitson, he was raised and educated in England. He came to Canada in 1966 as part of the first wave of instructors at the newly opened Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. He then followed a number of pursuits, including writing while living an idyllic life on a Mediterranean island, heading an arts council in Burnaby, and sitting in a film classifier’s chair for several years. When he retired in 1995, he dedicated himself fully to his true passions of reading and travelling. And his Thursday lunches with dear friends. He is survived by his wife, Mary, his daughter, Katie, son-in-law, Jacobo, his beloved grandchildren, Mateo and Emilia, his brother John and family, and many friends. He was truly happy to join his family with Jacobo’s Mexican family in 2010. He will be remembered for his sense of humor and wit and for his stoicism during many years of health challenges. The family wishes to express special thanks to the friends, family members, and amazing care givers, who made David’s last years happy ones. David requested no funeral service, but you may honor his memory with a donation to BC Children’s Hospital.
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Jo Ann Hall
July 17, 2018
Enjoying Thanksgiving with David, Mary and Dianne. Will always remember how David would pour his beer...tapping it repeatedly to get every last drop!!
Jo Ann Hall
July 17, 2018
David the Leprecaun – who would have guessed! We always enjoyed his company and Mary’s at our St. Paddy TGIF parties and Thanksgiving dinners.
Rest in peace David.
July 12, 2018
An historian and an educator, David was more knowledgeable than anyone I’ve ever met. Throughout the years, David challenged me to know the history of the places I visited in my travels. He encouraged my passion for art, and to appreciate classical music and worthwhile literature.
I marveled at his keen sense of humour and wit, his compassion for others, and his ability to analyze any current event objectively. On more the one occasion, he would patiently listen to my views, and then carefully point out my errors. This usually ended in another witty remark.
My best memories of the visits with David are of the many discussions about our hopes and dreams for our daughters. He valued family and friends above all.
July 8, 2018
I first met David in 1966 when we were both fresh recruits in the History Department at Simon Fraser University. At that time his outstanding traits were a phenomenal capacity for beer, a prudent attitude towards financial matters that bordered on parsimony and an exceptionally cavalier attitude towards the minimal requirements necessary were he to pursue an academic career.
Our ways parted and I saw very little of him until the day that David and Mary moved into the apartment building on Patterson Avenue, where I had been living for a number of years. It was then they both became our close and very dear friends. David could be cantankerous, with strongly held views that were sometimes tinged with bloody-mindedness; although I confess to sharing some of them, particularly with respect to the royal family. His self-imposed dietary restrictions would have staggered an orthodox Jew or a devout Muslim. He boldly asserted that classical music ground to a halt with the death of Beethoven. He was a voracious reader who was outspoken in his views on books whether he had read or not. He had an alert mind, a staggering memory, and was exceptionally quick-witted. To cross swords with him was pure delight. His conversation was always spiced with a deliciously British sense of humour.
Most impressive of all was the courage, determination and fortitude he showed when stricken with a terrible sickness. He was good for a laugh even in the final weeks. David was in the best sense of the word a character; one of a kind and irreplaceable. Bettina and I miss him dearly.
July 7, 2018
From the day Mika and Katie forged their friendship at school, Mika always felt like part of the Huitson family. David and Mary welcomed her with open arms. This same kindness continued when they met Cei and when our family grew with the additions of Mia and Ema. There are so many memories of David. His love of sitting on the deck in the sun, drinking his Fosters beer, his hamburger patties grilled to an inch of its life, his tiny writing which was always fun to try and decipher, his love of classical music, and of course, his love of books. The memory of David almost putting sashimi on his plate, thinking it was ham, still brings a smile to Mika's face. One of our most favourite traditions was Christmas Eve dinner with the Huitsons and the gang. We can look up at our bookcase and know exactly which books were brought home on one of those evenings. He was always so kind and genuinely interested in what was going on in our lives, never forgetting a detail. Over the last few years, it was lovely to watch David admiring Mateo and Emilia. You could see how much love he had for his grandchildren. We are all grateful for the time we spent with David. Mika is especially grateful for all the time she was welcomed over to play with Katie, which eventually turned into “hanging out” of course. We will miss you David!
Cei, Mika, Mia and Ema
July 5, 2018
Jean and I met Mary, then David when Kate was a baby. We had the good fortune to work with Mary and to meet and enjoy David over many social evenings. The Huitson Christmas Eve celebrations were legendary.
When David and Jean retired they walked every Thursday with the dogs and then lunched at David's chosen greasy spoon - most recently at IHOP on Kingsway. David had a knack for getting to know the servers in the restaurants to the point that they placed his order before he was seated - eggs and chips- a lunch he seemed able to find anywhere in the world.
When Linda retired, then Mary we continued our Thursdays soon joined by Darrell and Verna. We rotated paying the bill and David loved it when it was not his turn. Every now and then it was his turn and he payed up but not without many comments.
What David brought to these rambles was a keen mind, an amazing memory, humor, opinions about politics, books (whether he read them or not), music and most of all a kind and caring friendship. He was gifted at meeting and keeping friends and we feel very fortunate to have been part of the cohort. We miss him dearly. Linda and Jean
July 3, 2018
I first met David through my late husband, Gordon, who, along with David, were graduates of the 1962 class in History, from (now) Newcastle University, UK. David stayed with us in Toronto during the summer of 1966 and again (with Mary) in 1975, en route to other parts of Canada.
Between 1969 and 1976, letters were sent by David from Simon Fraser U, Menorca, and Edmonton and replied to by Gordon from the UK and Toronto. David and Mary later moved to Vancouver, where we re-connected when we moved to Vancouver Island in 2006. Our visits became more frequent as we visited our daughter, also in Vancouver. We were treated to many lovely lunches prepared by Mary in their 27th floor apartment on Patterson Ave.
Gordon's university description of David was one of considerable beer consumption, when David would become “melancholic”. Later, Gordon envied David as a free spirit who basked in the sun of Menorca, writing. When we visited, David occasionally seemed to be in bad humour, but then his eyes would sparkle as he chuckled. Gordon's comment - - “He likes to tease.”
David had a neat turn of phrase, describing Vancouver sun as “that rare golden orb in the sky”. After Gordon passed away in 2010, I turned to David as an anchor of communication with the past, and he patiently emailed back to me on a more-or-less daily basis. The emails diminished in frequency and stopped altogether but were continued by Mary after David became ill. A great trait of David was his love of children generally, and especially his two grandchildren. I well remember the pride in his emails describing Mateo, his first grandchild. I've always been grateful for our families' friendship, especially after Gordon died.
July 3, 2018
July 2, 2018
MY DEAR DAVID,
You are someone very special to me. I will forever cherish and treasure you. The memories that death cannot even steal. You are always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for those stories you had shared with me. How you met Mary, the wars, your travelling, especally the one from Mexico with those beautiful ladies, Hawaii, Asia, Europe, and so on. Being a professor. Laughters, giggling, dancing cha-cha, salsa and zumba we did even you were in the wheelchair, you were doing thumbsdown when I sing yellow submarine and thumbs up if I sing "You can do it if you want it". Your sense of humour really made me laugh and sometimes made me mad because you said if you win the Lottery no money for Mary and me and you will only share it wih Juvy. I will carry with me those memories for the rest of my life.
I truly admire you and consider one of a kind person for I had never seen you complaining to anyone (except to Mary) never been grumpy and always maintaining the good reputation to all people around you giving care. No matter how pain you were experiencing you tried to please us. I remember the last thickened juice I gave you no matter how hard for you to swallow it, you did and gave me the last beauiful smile. I will FOREVER miss you❤️. I am very blessed to have met you though it so hard and very sad to say goodbye but you are now in a better place without pain and suffering. My deepest sympathy and prayers to your dedicated, loving, kind, generous and beautiful wife Mary . You have an incredibly amazing wife that I think the most wonderful blessings from above that has given you. Thank you so very much for everything. Mary, please take good care of yourself. As I have always say whenever you need me and Edna please do not hesitate to text, call or email us. Katie and family, my sincere Condolence. I am very grateful that I have met your entire family. I am surely miss all of you. GOD BLESS🙏🙏🙏
July 1, 2018
A long time ago, Mary and David left their home in Spain to ensure their daughter Katie was born in Canada. This meant that for a few years in Edmonton I had the good luck to better know my first brother-in-law. We spent many evenings in the basement of my parent's home, where David helped guide me to read more relevant literature, we enjoyed discussing and debating any number of topics and shared bottles of Guinness beer and too many hand rolled cigarettes. I very much cherish those moments. Years later after they settled into their life in Burnaby, BC both Mary and David welcomed me into their home for a number of months as I struggled into a new life of graduate school away from Edmonton. I appreciated David's extreme sense of humor and wit and am fortunate he was the brother I never had. Rest in Peace David!
July 1, 2018
I will always remember, the joyous memories of many time spent with David, in his Home, central park, Sunset beach, listened to opera music, watched Mr. bean and so on... We always laugh together. David always have a beautiful smile, He's my inspiration and he helps my spirit. David, entire family has been appreciative and considerate especially his wife Mary a loving and beautiful inside out.
July 1, 2018
Tribute from Suzan and David Eltis – part 1
We first met David (and incidentally each other) at the beginning of October 1959 in our first year as undergraduates at Kings College - now Newcastle University. There were eleven of us in the first year History program. David was older and seemed more worldly-wise than everyone else in the group. Some of us, for example, had never heard of Jack Kerouac, and none had an dolly bird (and certainly not an dolly boy) on our arm. But chiefly, his status stemmed from the fact that his age cohort was the last to be conscripted into the British armed forces. This meant that he couldn’t attend university until he had completed his two years of National Service. We think it was the British Army that turned a healthy skepticism toward the British royal family into a scathing dislike. Over the next three years we took classes together, argued, drank copious amounts of beer in the student union, and, as we all expected, at the end of this process, he got a better degree than we did. He carried his iconoclasm like a placard and extended it to everything except the Newcastle United Football club and the Tynemouth cricket second eleven for which he played. In a different age anarchism might have had some appeal for him.
Yet there was a larger context to his appealingly outrageous statements and positions, and that was his natural gregariousness, his capacity for sustaining deep and abiding friendships, plus, an initially unsuspected underlying contentment with his lot. Of the eleven that met for the first time on that October morning almost 60 years ago, four moved to Canada within three years of graduation. Over the next four decades we were distributed at different times over five provinces stretching from NS to BC before all retiring in BC – well known as the elephant’s graveyard of confederation (continued under Suzan because of funeral home’s space constraints).
July 1, 2018
Tribute from Suzan and David Eltis – part 2
Over the years, we visited each other in different parts of the country. One such visit coincided exactly and memorably with the birth of our third child. David’s first apartment in Vancouver was a high-rise in the West-end here. David E made two work-related visits from our own base in Edmonton, and inevitably there were big parties underway both times. When we moved to Ontario he trained our three not-yet ten-year old sons to fetch him another beer from the fridge whenever his current bottle was ¾ empty. Until illness overtook him David stayed in touch with a much wider range of people than we did and kept a diary which he showed to one of us, and it will require a cryptologist to decipher it. He was a clearing house of information on the old university group.
He was contrary, often cantankerous, always stubborn (most recently when one of us tried to read aloud to him in hospital – we watched a rugby video instead), but he never fought with or held grudges against anyone. Scathing opinions, well expressed, but no grudges. How many of us can have that as an epitaph? In his years of decline, as we pushed him to Chapters, or through Central park, around the seawall, or into more cod and chips and ice-cream establishments around the lower mainland than we care to remember, or just sat with him, we came to understand his huge will to live. But then why would it be otherwise? Even when unable to move or speak he enjoyed company, and even when none was to be had, he had no desire to leave his life behind. What a paradox – an iconoclasm anchored in serenity. There must be many routes to a happy life. David certainly found one of them.
Chris and Hilary Martyn-Potts
July 1, 2018
We have such fond memories of our visit to Canada ,and the hospitality and generosity David and yourself showed us during our stay. You took us to some of the most beautiful places we have ever seen.You even leant us your car !
One memory of an English visit is of David being very amused at our two daughters re enacting characters from "The sound of music".
Dear Mary , Katie and family we all send our love and deepest sympathy at this time. Love from Chris , Hilary, Justine and Alexandra X