March 3, 1936 – July 16, 2020
It is with sadness that the family is announcing the passing of James Donald (Don) Wallace on the afternoon of July 16th. He passed away peacefully, listening to some of his favourite musical pieces at Eden Gardens Compassionate Dementia Care, Nanaimo, BC.
He is survived by his loving family, wife Dorothy of 53 years, son Kevin (Dina), granddaughters Tessa and Scarlett, sisters Roberta Ashe (Bangor, N. Ireland) and Paddy Penn (Vancouver, BC) and extended family around the world. Don was predeceased by his son Niall.
Don was born Belfast, N. Ireland March 3, 1936 to James and Peggy Wallace. He was raised in Bangor, N. Ireland where he attended Bangor Grammar school. He qualified as a teacher at Stranmillis College, Belfast and received further degrees from the University of Victoria and Western Washington University, Bellingham.
Don moved to Bermuda in 1962 where he taught drama and English literature and perfected his cartooning skills. He returned to N. Ireland in 1965 where he subsequently met Dorothy and was married in 1967.
Don and Dorothy emigrated to Canada in 1969, arriving in Ft. St. John, BC where Kevin was born in 1970. There he cartooned for the Alaska Highway News in addition to teaching.
In 1972 they moved to Nanaimo, BC, where their son Niall was born in 1973. Don spent his teaching career in Nanaimo between Wellington and NDSS, with some night classes at Malaspina College. While at NDSS he directed 9 student musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell and Music Man, to name a few.
In addition to teaching, he also enjoyed acting and cartooning. He acted in several award-winning productions with the Nanaimo Theatre group and produced over 2000 editorial cartoons for the Nanaimo Daily Free Press and Nanaimo News Bulletin. Many of these cartoons are archived at Vancouver Island University Library, Special Collections.
In 1984 he begun to pursue a professional acting career. While he never got his ‘big break’ he had various roles on CBC Radio and TV shows such as Beachcombers, Breaker High, Davinci’s Inquest and Cold Squad.
Don was an avid tennis player, but the sport that held his interest most and provided a family outside of his immediate family was rugby. He was a member of Nanaimo Hornets Rugby club up until his last game at age 75 wearing the esteemed gold shorts reserved only for those players over the age of 70. His rugby career included 2 tours in Japan and participating in the Golden Oldies rugby world cup in 1997.
As a father Don always supported his sons in all their own various sporting endeavours and always encouraged them to pursue their own individual ambitions. This included numerous ski trips with his sons to Mt. Washington and Mt. Baker, despite having never skied before arriving in Canada.
Don and Dorothy’s love of travel allowed them to maintain relationships with their family and friends around the world, all the way up until and even after his dementia began to take its toll.
The family would like to thank staff at Chartwell Malaspina Gardens who were instrumental in Don’s initial transition from his home of 45 years into care.
The family also expresses heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the staff at Eden Gardens for their dedicated care and love given to Don and support given to Dorothy over the last 15 months. He spent his last hour with Dorothy at his side, listening to the music therapist playing Danny Boy, I Did it My Way and some of his other favorites.
Whether at their infamous St. Patrick’s Day parties or at the Rugby Club or at family dinners, always with a sense of humour, Don would provide a toast, tell a joke or recite a poem…
But since it has so ought to be
By a time to rise and a time to fall
Come fill to me the parting glass
Good night and joy be with you all
– The Parting Glass
In lieu flowers, a donation may be made directly to Eden Gardens in Don’s memory.
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