Barbara Humphrey Desaulniers

August 29, 1931January 4, 2020

Barbara Desaulniers, “Bobby” to her friends, lived a life defined by her empathy and her belief in the power of love. To really understand her, it’s useful to know some family history. Her father, Edwin Guy Symonds, at age 16, left the family home in the agricultural community of Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire, to the northwest of London, and joined the Royal Navy Airforce to fly in WW1. Shot down twice behind enemy lines, he walked back to safety. On a third occasion the enemy hit his “kite,” he navigated without instruments in the black of night back to the aerodrome in northern France and landed the crippled aircraft—clutching the controls from the back seat over the shoulders of the young pilot who had frozen with fear. The hard landing ended his flying days.

Her mother, Grace Margaret Anstice, grew up in South Petherton in Somerset, a short distance west of Stonehenge. The merchant family had not only the means but the enlightenment to send Grace to finishing school in Germany, where she studied psychology and education.

The couple emigrated to Canada after the war ended, and raised a family of four in Kerrisdale, where Bobby would make many life-long friends, some of whom continued to visit with her until her last days. She attended Point Grey High School and the University of British Columbia and worked briefly as a Registered Nurse before marrying her high school sweetheart, Neil Desaulniers. They settled down in Vancouver to raise a family of four boys, all born within a span of six years.

Friends would say of her character that she was bright, open, caring, never judgemental, a humanist, and had a knack for steering a conversation in just the right direction. People felt at ease opening their hearts to her. She knew how to keep a confidence, and so earned the trust of many.

She read voraciously, often with several books on the go at the same time. She especially enjoyed reading history, and in particular the history of 20th Century wars.

What there is to say of her qualities and her life experiences would run well off these pages. She lived and died with humour and grace. People who knew her in her 88 years of life are better for having met her. Deeply loved by friends and family, she will surely be missed.

She is predeceased by her three siblings, Elizabeth Crosby, Ann Russell, and John Symonds, and her husband Neil Desaulniers. She is survived by her four sons Blake (Linda), Michael, Gregory, and Bradley and by her sister-in-law Marylin Symonds, as well as an extended family of eight grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Acknowledgement may be expressed in the form of donations to St John Hospice at UBC, who cared for her with compassion until she passed away peacefully, surrounded by family and friends.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Desaulniers family.


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Barbara Humphrey Desaulniers

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Arthur Holden

January 16, 2020

Bobby was a beloved neighbour in the 1970's and early 1980's. The glow of her smile lit up Kensington Avenue. To Blake, Mike, Greg and Brad, the Holden family offers heartfelt condolences.
-Arthur Holden