OBITUARY

Gay-Lynn Thomasina Cook

March 22, 1980January 18, 2022
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. Brené Brown Gaylynn Thomasina Cook (nee Seigler) started her life on the Saanich Peninsula with her parents Cecile and Tom Seigler. Her childhood contained the types of challenges and celebrations common to an 80’s child, full of scrapes, bruises, fights with her younger brother TJ, and growth into an honest, smart, funny and curious kid. The Siegler kitchen table was the place where Gaylynn's friends would come and talk about anything. Her Mom was game for any conversation, sometimes to Gaylynn's abject horror. This legacy of openness, belonging, and safety grounded Gaylynn's identity as she navigated the trauma of losing her Mom in May, and then her Dad in September of 2002. Amongst the devastating loss of her parents, Gaylynn put together a path forward into the hospitality industry. She completed her Diploma in Hospitality Management, which took her to Whistler and Kanasaskis. She spent 7 months traveling South America, where Bolivia stood out as the most impactful and instructive place, bringing her values into the light and giving voice to new ideas and perspectives. She returned to Canada and continued pursuing opportunities in small hotels on the Peninsula, quickly working her way up to manager position at the Brentwood Bay Lodge and Spa. The industry culture provided a backdrop for Gaylynn to bury herself and her pain into work. She worked long hours, smoked countless packs of cigarettes, and excelled as an administrator and leader. After a few years of this, the strong sense of self instilled by her family asserted itself and Gaylynn realized that the work she was being called to do wasn’t for someone. It was to work on someone: herself. In classic Gaylynn style she quit her job, started therapy, and transformed her life. Within months she was working for the provincial government and making plans on how to develop her career into a life of service. She became more consciously engaged in her relationships: she reconnected with TJ, cultivated a small group of friends-who-are-family, and ultimately met her future husband Geoff, who gave up everything to move to Canada to be with Gaylynn. Gaylynn and Geoff married in 2009 and, along with dogs Chloé and Maxwell, she built a fortress of love and loyalty around her new family. Through the ups and downs of life and marriage, Gaylynn was a stalwart companion whose laugh, curiosity, quick temper, compassion, and logic created a full and interesting life. Her love for her friends was unflinching, and she would show up without question for anything, from childbirth to tea-leaf readings, art classes to road trips. When TJ passed away in 2014 it distilled yet again for Gaylynn the imperative to hold tight to love and the people she shared it with. The number of once-in-a-lifetime moments which we shared with Gaylynn are uncountable and precious, all the more so now as we try to carry on without her. Professionally, Gaylynn became a dedicated member of British Columbia’s public service. From her entry level position with the Ministry of Environment she traversed upwards through different roles and opportunities. Her passion for strategic human resources developed, and she completed her business degree specializing in HR while continuing to work full-time. The Olympic Secretariat, Natural Resource Transformation Project, Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, Ministry of Health, and Emergency Management BC all benefited from Gaylynn’s expertise and holistic approach to problem-solving and change. The legacy of her work as Human Resources Director for EMBC included the reorganization of services to more efficiently and effectively address fire and flood recovery in the province. It was a $1.5 billion line item in the provincial budget, yet something Gaylynn just casually mentioned as the reason she had to put in extra hours over the winter holidays. Her strategic planning, analysis skills, and logic were complemented by deep compassion and empathy. She was a quiet leader who was incredibly thoughtful. The ripple effect of Gaylynn’s loss was felt throughout the entire public service; it has been overwhelming to hear from so many people how quietly powerful Gaylynn was in influencing positive, person-centered change. The importance of sharing Gaylynn’s story like this is to give voice to the redemptive power of choice. She chose happiness over sorrow, connection over loneliness, and movement over stagnation. She overcame loss of a scale and at an age that could have crippled her; she worked everyday to become more aligned with her authentic self and the values and beliefs which were her foundation. Gaylynn shone the light on and developed other smart, compassionate, and energetic people into strong public servants and leaders; she did the same thing for her friends. She guarded her people and fiercely protected those she felt responsible for or loved. She was a brilliant, hilarious, loving, artistic, honest, brave, and messy human-being. Her infectious laugh, endless creativity, sense of adventure, deep loyalty and open listening enriched our lives. We are devastated to have lost her so quickly and so early; she had so many plans and unfinished dreams and projects to achieve. She was our family, and we continue to love her wholly and completely.

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