Betty was born March 7th 1933 in Chilliwack BC. to parents Sara and Oliver Wells, dairy farmers and owners of Edenbank farm, Sardis BC.
Three generations of the Wells family were dedicated to The United Church of Canada and the pioneering of the Chilliwack community itself. Strong ties to these establishments and their important values were instilled upon Betty from an early age. As was the relationship with the Coast Salish peoples of the area. Bettys Grandfather Edwin Wells with whom she had a close relationship, held his friendship with the Salish people and Chief Seepass in particular in high regard. This influence from her father and grandfather, as well as many visits to their native homes and ceremonies on reserve had Betty respecting another culture at an early age. This would influence and serve her well later in life.
Betty and Marie grew up on the family farm and attended elementary school in Sardis, then junior and senior high in Chilliwack. Graduating from Chilliwack Senior Secondary in 1951, she immediately began the Nursing program at St Paul's Hospital Vancouver BC. Registered Nursing degree completed in 1954
It was during that final year of the nursing program, that Betty went out on a blind date. A blind date that lasted 68 years. Betty married Robert Thomas Purkiss, a local New Westminster Electrician in September 1954. Nursing took a willing back seat to the rearing of her children and all that entails. Betty and Bob eventually settled in Port Coquitlam with 3 children and one black labrador dubbed "Chipper" Bob specialized in wiring mills and mines which took him to the far corners of the province where Betty and the children would join him. This was usually only over summer school breaks, but there were a few longer term stints.
As her family grew, and spare time increased Betty's artistic side flourished! She would sew for hours, creating magnificent quilts and garments. She created beautiful decorative crafts at Christmastime. Daughter Nancy, inspired by her mother's creativity also developed a life long artistic flare. Later in life they shared creative experiences time and time again.
Always up to a challenge, Betty enjoyed jigsaw puzzles which became both a family tradition and her own lifelong hobby. Also an avid reader, she had obtained full collections of her favorite authors, which she added to and re-read throughout her lifetime. Betty introduced all her kids to reading - but her son Robert took to it quite seriously at a young age. Robert is now 65 years old and has not lifted his head up from a book since childhood. Elizabeth and Betty shared in the enjoyment of a good mystery novel. Over the years they have spent countless hours discussing a good "who done it".
As her life progressed and her children began lives of their own, Betty felt the need for new challenges. The values instilled upon her growing up, the intense relationship with animals and relations with cultures other than her own. Betty felt the need to learn, the desire to know, to be of service, and to assist others.
And so began a lifelong journey of society memberships, volunteering and mentoring.
Never forgetting her roots, she had been an on going member of the Chilliwack Museum for decades. She stayed involved in their fund raising activities over the years and made thoughtful donations from the Wells family heirlooms. Later when living in Campbell River She became an active member and volunteer for The Campbell River Museum. And like her own mother, she held a life long membership with PEO (woman's educational organization) This membership also brought friendships lasting decades.
Betty also assisted with her children's school outings and field trips, as well as her daughter's Girl Guide groups. Over a period of 15 years, she held various positions within the Girl Guides of Canada organization. Starting as a Guide Leader, as well as the Registered Nurse for the guide Camp "Soona" near Hope BC. She then moved into the position of Camp Advisor Commissioner, sat on provincial camp committees, and finally, she was appointed as Deputy Provincial Camp Advisor. Betty formed life long friendships during these busy years.
In later years Betty enjoyed volunteering with Pets n Friends in Campbell River. Each and every week, for over 7 years she and her yellow Labradors, first Chuckles and then adding Kaija in order to retire out aging Chuckles would visit with patients in long term care at the Campbell River & District General Hospital. Betty said " it is a very satisfying feeling to take a much loved pet to visit people who love animals but don't have their own any more". Mom also told me about a resident blind and bedridden, whos face would lite up like a Christmas tree when his hand was placed upon Chuckles head.
In addition Betty spent 5 years as a Seniors Counsellor with the Province of BC. Providing local seniors with information and appropriate service referrals, and assisting with their pension applications. Hired by the local Income Assistance office supervisor Sue Christieans, Betty would often meet with her clients there using the spare office normally reserved for visiting Ministry dignitary.
As well she held a position as a RCMP Victim Services volunteer, working with victims of crime. Additionally, she held a position as a board member with The Campbell River Volunteer Society. Also, Betty served as Chairperson at Tribunals for clients of The Ministry of Social Development.
In a nutshell, Betty Purkiss held keys for all the important doors in town.
Betty was predeceased by her husband of 68 years Robert (Bob) Thomas Purkiss, daughter Ann Marie Purkiss and brother in law Dr Richard Weeden. Betty leaves behind her daughters Elizabeth and Nancy Purkiss, her son Robert Purkiss, her sister Margaret (Marie) Weeden, her nephew Dave Weeden and family, Grand Nephew Kyle Edwards and family and Grand Niece Chantelle Edwards and family
Betty will be best remembered as a kind and thoughtful person. A stranger would feel at ease in her presence. She had a gentle sincerity about her - showing consideration to all.
A true lovely lady.
Our gratitude goes out to Jaquline and her staff at Golden Grove Care Home. They provided Betty with outstanding professional and quality care. Hats off to you Golden Grove!
Betty's family invite you to join them at her Celebration of Life Ceremony. Being held Friday Jan 5th at Suttons Funeral Home 501 South Dogwood St Campbell River. Service at 11am, reception to follow 12-2pm