August 15, 1941 – January 15, 2022
In Loving Memory ~
Heather McFetridge died at home (feeling the ever present love of friends and family) surrounded by love. Heather was born in Powell River and spent the first 3-4 years of her life on a float house in a logging camp at Stillwater (near Powell River) with brother Harold and sister Catherine. The family relocated to the Comox Valley in 1944.
She is predeceased by father Ronald Gordon McFetridge, mother Irene McFetridge (later Parkin) and sister Catherine Witzel.
She leaves son Sam Maguire Hutchinson and grandsons Connor and Will and wife Jacqueline (daughter Hailey and son Nicco) currently living in Florida and daughter Eliza Anderson and husband Ken and grandsons Quinn and Noah currently living in California. Cousins and nieces and nephews and loved ones are scattered throughout Canada, Ireland and the USA. Heather loved her wild childhood play on the scarcely populated Back Road and sometimes at school. As high school approached, the family moved to Courtenay and settled on Woods Avenue. At that time, Comox and Courtenay were very small, rural communities.
Sid Williams performed his famous ‘skits’ at the Bickle Theatre and the E.W. Theatre, a perfect example of Art Deco, offered films for those who loved movies and the Saturday afternoon matinees were the highlight of the week.
Lewis Park was a lively center of activity, and it was there that Heather’s lifelong love of baseball was born as her father explained the game to her and explained why Satchel Paige was his baseball hero. The wooden wraparound bleachers formed the perfect entrance to Lewis Park. Heather remained ever-thankful that she learned to love opera because of her father; Caruso and Galli-Curci were names frequently heard. Heather’s mother recited poetry with passion and loved ballet (Nijinsky was her hero).
Heather had many jobs as a young woman including working in the local creamery (now the Library location), working at Goose Spit in the summer in the years before there was a land entrance so a navy cutter offered transportation to and from work, and working as an usher in the E.W. Theatre.
Anticipating ‘big city’ life, Heather left the Comox Valley as soon as possible and alternately worked and attended UBC until she received Teacher’s Certification and after teaching in relative isolation in the Cariboo at Buffalo Creek for a year, she left for Calgary to visit long-time school buddy Angela Luoma (Bowering) and stayed after her visit to teach school in Calgary.
She met her husband Alan Hutchinson from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who had immigrated to Denver Colorado to complete a Masters Degree in Geology and then relocated to Calgary. They married within six months of meeting and loved their three years in Calgary but found the climate challenging.
After travelling in Europe for several months until they ran out of funds, they settled in London, England in 1969. Sam was born in October 1970 and they left London for a four year stint in Singapore where Eliza was born in April 1972.
Heather and Alan shared many passions; travel, theatre, film, food, reading, and socializing. In 1974 Alan had an opportunity in Beirut that seemed irresistible, and they rented an apartment and enrolled Sam and Eliza in pre-school in Beirut- known at that time as ‘The Paris of the Middle East’ but after tensions in that area arose, they continued their travels and selected Houston as their next home.
Houston provided a wonderful home base for the family as Sam and Eliza started pre-school and Heather alternately worked at the Montessori school attended by the children and attended the University of Houston to pursue a new academic path in her desire to earn a BA in Political Science.
Some years after Heather and Alan divorced, Heather married John Rowe, economist at University of Houston who moved on to University of South Florida, Tampa. Although the marriage was short-lived, Heather and Sam and Eliza stayed in Tampa until both had graduated from high school.
After jobs that included both the private sector and non-profits that ultimately led Heather to opt for an opportunity to engage with preschool children and their parents in Belle Glade at a large Head Start School, Heather was eager to continue working with children and families on her return to the Comox Valley in 1994 and found meaningful employment with the Comox Valley Child Development Association until her retirement in 2008.
She loved the valley (her spirit home) and made life-time friends in AA, the CDA, and the Sid Williams Theatre and especially loved her reconnection with soul sister Darlene Choquette who had settled in Tofino many years earlier.
She was an active volunteer at Eldercollege (where she taught film classes for years with buddy and fellow film-lover Brian Charlton) and she found comfort and friendship in the Comox United Church because of its advocacy for all forms of social and racial and economic justice.
Special thanks to the amazing group Heather lovingly referred to as ‘Heather’s Helpers’ who made the last years of her life at home possible and to the medical community for their support. She loved her life; her travels, her friends, her AA clan, and above all she loved Sam and Eliza and their families; they are her greatest treasureObituary
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