Arlene Joan Swanson

March 7, 1938 – August 19, 2021
Joan died peacefully on August 19th at North Island Hospital in Courtenay, B.C. The world lost one of the greatest huggers of all time. To be embraced by Joan was to know that you were loved fiercely and unconditionally; she had one of the strongest grips known to mankind and she was rarely the first to let go. Her legendary hugs were lovingly received by her daughter Cheryl (partner Dave), her son Rich (wife Karen), her granddaughters Megan, Emma (husband Josh Robinson), Hailey, Stella and Sophie, and her great-grandson Austin Rau as well as many, many friends and family. Joan was predeceased by her husband Don, son Mike, and parents Cecil and Blanche Anderson.
Joan suffered a bad fall this past June when she was living at Casa Loma Seniors Village and was taken to hospital where she spent the remaining weeks of her life. Extensive testing indicated that Joan had advanced dementia and her organs were starting to fail. Joan’s passing was swift and she did not suffer; she had the grace and dignity to let her family know that she was ready to go. The entire Swanson family would like to acknowledge the incredible support, expertise, kindness and dedication of all of Joan’s caregivers. The staff at Casa Loma and the Transitional Care team at North Island Hospital are all superheroes and we appreciate them more than words can express. We are grateful for the compassion, humor and care that we witnessed at every stage of Joan’s journey, especially considering the daily challenges presented by COVID-19.
Despite the many losses in her life, Joan had a jovial spirit, empathetically loving heart and easy laugh. It didn’t really matter if a joke was funny or not, Joan laughed out loud at the mere attempt at humor and her infectious laugh and giggles were felt by everyone around her. She always found the good in people and made quick friends out of strangers. There was nothing she liked more than a neighbor dropping by to ‘shoot the breeze,’ and she was a fantastic conversationalist. She had strong, well-informed opinions and was always happy to share them, but she also had a knack for reading peoples’ needs and offered a compassionate ear anytime it was required.
Joan’s children, granddaughters and great-grandson were her pride and joy. She was a very caring, loving, affectionate woman who wouldn’t hesitate to rub a foot or two or lavish lots of loving caresses on all her children and grandchildren. She nurtured unique relationships with each of her family members and made everybody feel special. She never ended a phone call without saying, “I love you” and “Bye-Bye for now.”
Joan was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and raised in Vancouver. Joan met her life-long partner Don, who had lived several houses away in Kitsilano and they were married in 1957. Joan worked as a bank teller at numerous branches in Vancouver and later in Port Alberni.
Port Alberni was Joan’s home for the majority of her life, spending 55 years in the same home on Grandview Road. The Swanson family plans to honour Joan and her beloved husband Don by placing a memorial bench on the Kitsuksis Dyke Trail. Joan loved to walk the Kitsuksis dyke path and chat with her many close friends.
In light of current pandemic restrictions, a memorial service has not been planned at this time, but if you feel so inclined, a donation to one of Joan’s many loved charities (Alberni Valley Hospice Society/Doctors Without Borders/Red Cross to name a few) would be greatly welcomed, and please find someone you love and give them one of Joan’s long, strong hugs.Obituary


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