Shirk, Donald Daniel

1929 – 2012

Donald Daniel Shirk (Dan or Don), aged 83, of Nanaimo, B.C. died on July 27, 2012 at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital after a valiant fight with the complications of sugar diabetes.

Dan was born in 1929 in Vancouver, B.C. to Grace Sentell (Shirk). He spent his childhood and early working years in the Vancouver area. He was hired by the Northwest Telephone Company and later by the B.C. Telephone Company. Subsequently, the position required that he transfer to Powell River.

In Powell River in 1954, Dan married a widow named Elsa Martha Palmer (nee Berg). He also assumed responsibility for Elsa’s four-year-old daughter, Phyllis Elaine. Later their son, Thomas Alexander Shirk was born.

Dan was a good provider, rarely missing work. In his younger years, he was a member of the Loyal Order of the Moose, belonged to an active crib club, and enjoyed square dancing. In his spare time, and with encouragement from his in-laws, he learned wood working skills. He completed many carpentry projects and in future years did home renovations for his son and stepdaughter. He was inventive, talented at making something out of nothing, the “King of recycling.”

Dan retired from the B.C. Telephone Company in 1984 and moved with his wife to Nanaimo to be close to his children. He participated in social functions with the Telephone Pioneers of America in which he was a lifetime member. In his twilight years, when his health deteriorated, he persevered and quit smoking, with support from his physician, Dr. Mander. He demonstrated a tremendous will to live.

Dan is survived and sadly missed by his stepdaughter, Elaine Leigh; his son, Tom ShirK; grandson, Chris Leigh and his wife Veva; and his great grandchildren, Emma and Izzabella Leigh of Nanaimo, as well as his half brother, Harry Conn of Nanoose.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the B.C. Diabetes Association at #1 – 4166 Departure Bay Road, Nanaimo, B.C., V9T 4B7 or online at

Sands ~ Nanaimo


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