We are sad to announce the death of Alexander (“Eric”) McConnell at the age of 94. He lived happily on Gabriola Island for 34 years and died peacefully at home on July 27th. Alex is survived by his wife, Eileen, his daughters, Moira (Peter) and Janice (Dirk), his son Andrew (Tammy), and his grandchildren Jared, Rylan, Natasha and Tristan, and his sisters Pearl, and Yvonne (Cecil) and his brother Douglas (Joan).
Alex was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on the 30th of September 1926, the eldest of five children, to Robert and Mary McConnell. At the age of 18 he enlisted in the British Navy serving in the Fleet Air Arm in WWII. In 1947, when his wartime service ended, he attended Queen’s University, Belfast studying geography. While there Alex was in the Officers’ Training Corps and was part of the University Team who shot at Bisley in 1949.
After graduation he accepted a position in the Southern Rhodesian Government (now Zimbabwe). While travelling to Africa by ship he met his future wife, Eileen, and they were married there in 1953. They spent 11 years in Africa working in many different parts of Zimbabwe. The family left Africa in 1963 and emigrated, again by ship, to Canada. After a stint teaching high school geography, Alex joined the Federal Civil Service and worked for the Government of Canada in community development and economics in many remote locations throughout BC before finally working in Vancouver until he retired in 1987.
After retirement Alex and Eileen moved to Gabriola and built their house. Always travellers, they visited many parts for the world including sailing in the fjords of Norway, walking on the Great Wall of China and visiting Australia and Zimbabwe. Alex was involved in various organisations on Gabriola over the years. He greatly enjoyed being in the Fencing Club and for many years helped to teach adults and juniors the sport of Fencing.
Another favourite activity was Scottish Country Dancing. He and Eileen were members of the Nanaimo Scottish Dance Group for many years, sometimes going to Care Homes to entertain the residents. Alex was also a member of the Gabriola Veterans’ Association and always participated in the Remembrance Day Services.
When Alex and Eileen came to Gabriola, they joined the United Church (now Christ Church Gabriola). He was a very active member of the congregation for many years and especially loved being in the choir. He was also a founding member of the Gabriola Ecumenical Society.
A Memorial Service will take place on Gabriola, hopefully in the early autumn.
For friends wishing to remember Alex, a donation to the People for a Healthy Community on Gabriola Society would be gratefully accepted.
The family would like to thank neighbours and friends for their support and kind wishes.