The community is marking the passage of a Second World War veteran, stock car racer, long-time City of Cranbrook employee and Legion member, and the “Rag Lady” of the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary.
Dawn Douglas died peacefully at home on on Tuesday, July 21, after a lifetime of community involvement in Cranbrook.
“Dawn was well known for her loyalty, dedication and sense of humour,” said Lee Pratt, Mayor of Cranbrook, who first met Dawn when he was a pin-setter at the Cranbrook bowling alley in the 1960s, and she was a champion regional bowler.
“Dawn‘s activities and involvement in our community as an enthusiastic volunteer will be missed. Dawn Douglas was a great testament to a life well lived — I’m sorry to see Cranbrook has lost another great citizen.”
Valencia Dawn Douglas (née Bohmer) was born in Cardston, Alberta, in 1926, but grew up in the Creston Valley, where her large family moved to when she was young.
After attending business college in Trail and taking a job at the bank there, she joined the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division when the War broke out. She became a Wireless Operator, with the rank of Leading Aircraft Women, and after training in Ottawa and Montreal was stationed in Pat Bay on Vancouver Island, where she served for the duration of the war.
After the war, Dawn married Bernie Douglas, who worked with the CPR, and they moved to Cranbrook. Bernie was transferred to Revelstoke in 1950, but in 1958, Dawn and Bernie, with a young family of three children, moved back to Cranbrook for good.
Dawn’s love of sports led her to take up stock car racing upon the family’s return to Cranbrook, and she became one of the top drivers at Echo Field Raceway, racing in the Powder Puff Derby for several years until she had a crash, which took out an outbuilding at the field, wrecked her car, and broke her nose. She subsequently took up bowling, and became a regular champion of Kootenay tournaments.
Dawn starting employment with the City of Cranbrook in 1959, and worked with six mayors until her retirement in 1990.
“I know Dawn spent many years working for the city at City Hall, where she warmly greeted and helped everyone she came into contact with,” said Mayor Pratt. “Over the years I saw Dawn volunteering at many different venues representing various organizations. She was always cheerful and pleasant to talk to.”
At age 63, as an Arizona snowbird with her partner Jake Goodman, she took up golf.
As a veteran, Dawn was a long-time member of the Royal Canadian Legion, holding numerous positions in the Ladies Auxiliary, including President. She retired (as Treasurer) only just recently.
“Dawn has been a friend of mine for several years,” said Edith LeClair, President, Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 24. “She was a very efficient Treasurer of the Ladies Auxiliary to our Branch. During our fundraising events, like our Poppy Campaign, you could always find Dawn at Save-On or Safeway with a big smile on her face. She was also a super pie maker and sold lots of them at our Branch functions. She will be dearly missed by all of us.
“Our sincere condolences to all her family.”
Right until her final days, Dawn was an active Life Member of the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary, and logged more than 20 years of volunteer service with the CHCA Thrift Store, where she was known as the “Rag Lady.”
“Her task there was to re-cycle all cotton and terry cloth clothing, not resalable, into cleaning rags, which were sold to businesses throughout the East Kootenay,” said Kate Fox. “During her years at the Auxiliary doing this job, I would hate to take a guess at the amount of money she raised for our East Kootenay Regional Hospital.”
“Dawn was a member of the CHCA for over 20 years and I personally loved her as a person,” said CHCA Vice President Odette Rouse. “She was always laughing, had a beautiful smile and never complained and never a bad word about anyone. She was a great volunteer and will always live in our hearts. I can, without any doubt tell you, that everyone will miss her.
“Our condolences to the family and to her daughter Melanie Dodgson who is our current President of the CHCA. We all share your grief.”
A private celebration of Dawn’s life will be held at a later date, when the family can all be together.