May 17, 1961 – February 14, 2020
How do you write about someone’s whole life in a few words or paragraphs? How does one share to others what the love of their life, their partner, their father, their friend meant to them? How can mere words tell the story of how much he loved his family and all those who were dear to his heart? Here is but a glimpse of the man we knew and loved.
It is with great sadness in our hearts, we share that, Don Oxley, beloved husband and father passed away February 14th 2020. He leaves; his wife and life partner Cindy Gogo and his two daughters Alexandra and Amanda. He also leaves his parents, Barbara and Ken Oxley his sister Cindy Shewchuk, brother Kenneth Oxley, his mother Renee Willson, sisters Kim and Mandy Willson of Ontario. Don leaves a large extended family of, nephews, nieces, sister in-laws, brother in-laws, and cousins that he loved so very much. To the many friends he made along his pathway of life, He loved you all.
Don was born in, Essex County, Windsor, Ontario, where he lived with his Grandmother Jean Oxley and his Great Grandparents on their family farm. He moved to the Alberni Valley when he was seven years old.
Don was very athletic and in his youth he participated and excelled in many sports. He was on a swim team and swam the back stroke in a provincial competition. Don also loved to ice skate, and reminisced how when he was a child he skated on the small frozen ponds that would form on the fields at his great grandparents’ farm. Don played soccer, golf, slow-pitch, darts and football. He won many trophies for all the sporting events. Football was Don’s favourite sport to play and watch. He won MVP for his team the, Sweat Hogs. Don attended Alberni Elementary, A.W. Neill and graduated from Alberni District Secondary School in 1979.
Don worked at Catalyst Pulp and Paper mill in the Alberni Valley for 24 years. He held many positions there throughout the years. Don started in the Craft Mill department and would come home covered in black dust looking like the coal miners coming up from the mines. After the closer of the Craft Mill he worked in the Ground Wood department for many years. He later worked on a cleaning crew and his last position was in the CTMP Plant. After leaving the mill Don worked as a service clerk at Buy Low foods for 8 years before he retired in 2018. Don was very helpful and friendly to his co-workers and the customers who came into shop. This was noted by management and in a speech at a staff Christmas party, his boss thanked Don for the comradery that he brought to the store.
In 1981, Don met the love of his life, Cindy Gogo. There were some rocky times over the years but they held each other’s hands and made their way. They would have celebrated their 39th anniversary together this March 31st. They have two beautiful daughters, Alexandra who was born in 1991 followed three years later with their daughter Amanda, in 1994. Alexandra and Amanda were Don’s pride and joy and he loved them dearly. Don was a hardworking man and in 1994, after working 12 hour shifts at the mill, he helped build a new house for his young family. Now with their house built, Don and Cindy put in a garden. They grew a variety of vegetables changing them up a little every year. Don particularly enjoyed and got very good at growing garlic, raspberries and blueberries. His love for gardening and growing his own food was shared with his children. Spending time with his family was one of his life’s greatest pleasures.
Don was all about his family. He would make sure that he was always home with his wife and children for every holiday and every family celebration. He would often accompany his children when they were young, on school field trips. Don and Cindy went camping every summer throughout Vancouver Island to Miracle Beach, Rathtrevor and Hornby Island. While camping, Don taught his daughters to ride bikes, explore, build sand castles on the beach, catch crabs and body surf. He enjoyed these times with his family sitting around the camp fire telling stories, singing songs, roasting hotdogs and eating way too many marshmallows his daughters roasted.
Don taught his girls how to throw, catch and hit a baseball, even becoming coach for their softball teams. He loved spending time with his girls, cheering them on and taught them how to play soccer, badminton, play pool and throw a football.
Don was a kind, caring, passionate and compassionate man who wore his heart on his sleeve. He was always there to lend a helping hand to family, friends, neighbours and strangers. He helped those who struggled with mental health and/or addictions issues. He would not only help them monetarily, he would ask them about their lives, their story. He was a very personable man who really cared for others.
Don had a passion for collecting and became friends with others who shared the same interests. He jokingly was part of the “Don Giovanni” team for his “picking”. In his searches he not only looked for items for himself, but when he came across something he thought his daughters, family or friends would like, he would buy it for them. It gave Don great joy to bring a smile to the faces of those he loved.
Don was also passionate about music. He collected vinyl albums and he loved to crank up his tunes and get lost in the music. He blew a few speakers over the years. Don loved to sing and did just that with gusto at family gatherings or just hanging out with his kids or friends. Cindy and Don danced together many times over the years while listening to the wide genera of music Don had acquired. Every year on Cindy or the girl’s or his own birthday it became a family thing that Don would always play the song, Birthday, by the Beatles. We would all join the Beatles singing “They say it’s your birthday”… dancing and celebrating each other’s special day.
Don also had an interest in old cars. He was so happy when his friend Rick showed him a 1966 Cutlass Rocket 350. He purchased it and liked that he had a little part of history and enjoyed cruising in “big red” as he called his 1966 Cutlass. Don would take big red out, 12 months of the year any time it wasn’t raining and the roads were clear. The sun was shining this past New Year’s Day, 2020 and he and Cindy went out for a drive. Don was so happy when he was out for a cruise or on a lunch date at the J&L drive in. His interest in cars extended to the Thunder in the Valley yearly races. He liked to watch some of his friends’ race and pull smoke shows. Don liked the smoke so much that added a line lock to Big Red.
Don had a great sense of humour and a quick wit. He always had a joke to tell his friends and family. He loved life and all the people with whom he connected with.
Thank you to the wonderful health care providers Dr. Shane Longman, Dr. Brent Manson, Dr. Mathew Hudson and Dr. James Ferguson for the care given to Don over the years. To Nurses Kelly, Mai, Tia, and Ryan at West Coast General Hospital as well as Nurse Jane from Royal Jubilee Hospital thank you all for your professionalism, care, empathy and compassion. Thank you to Jackie from Home Support, you are lovely. Thank you to Peter Shurin, Spiritual Health Practitioner from Royal Jubliee Hospital for the spiritual comfort you brought Don. Mark and Sue Lemay thank you for your friendship, compassion, prayers and love.
A celebration of life for Don will take place August 8th, 2020 1 – 4 pm at the Barclay Hotel. In lieu of flowers if you wish please make a donation to a local charity.
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