A life well lived

Brenda Campbell had a passion for family, friends and nursing

Brenda Campbell began her career as a care aid and eventually upgraded to her nursing degree.

When Brenda Campbell tragically died very suddenly earlier this year, she left her family, friends and co-workers bereaved and in shock. She died from complications of influenza, something no one expects in the 21st century but unfortunately can still happen.

“She was a completely healthy, active 48-year-old,” her sister-in-law Bev Cardle said.

Brenda’s co-workers at Dunrovin Park Lodge were also deeply affected by her death and on behalf of Brenda’s husband Ross, and everyone who knew and loved her, the staff at Dunrovin began the process of establishing a bursary, through Quesnel Community Foundation, in Brenda’s name.

This bursary is designed to benefit anyone planning on a career in either care aide or nursing.

Brenda’s interest in the nursing field was sparked very early in her life. Her mother was a nurse at Dunrovin for many years.

After graduating, Brenda trained as a care aide and worked alongside her mother. She went on to earn her nursing degree and worked at Dunrovin for 22 years.

However, her passion and dedication to nursing wasn’t the whole picture of Brenda Campbell. She also brought a huge presence to anyone who knew her.

“Brenda had an effervescent love of life,” Cardle said.

She also exuded a healthy lifestyle, both as a walker and a runner. In 2010 she did the 60km Walk to End Breast Cancer in Vancouver with her team Gals, Guts and Glory which included her daughter Emily.

Cardle added she encouraged her family, 20-year-old Emily, 17-year-old Jaryn and husband Ross, to be healthy and active as well.

According to everyone who knew her, Brenda brought the party in social activities. She had a loud, infectious laugh and knew how to have a good time, bringing everyone along with her. Humour was an important part of Brenda’s approach to life.

She was also a consummate giver.

“You rarely heard her say ‘this is just for me,’” Cardle said.

“She always put others before herself.”

As a mother she was decidedly no-nonsense and always matter of fact, but found a way to slice through any problems to get to a solution and this also carried through in her career.

Co-worker Krista Bartels remembers Brenda with respect and fondness.

“Brenda was a realist, very much respectful but didn’t sugar-coat, especially the realities of life and death,” she said.

“She brought humour, empathy and wisdom to any situation. She was trusted and knowledgeable and newly-minted professionals knew she would give it to them straight. She was very well liked.”

Bartels went on to say she was a good teacher and mentor, delivering her message in a way they could accept it.

The bursary is exactly the kind of tribute Brenda would approve of, Bartels said.

“Brenda would love to see a care aide further themselves as she did,” she said.

“She was very pro-education and would be supportive of financial aid for this purpose especially for geriatric care.”

Bartels also remembers Brenda as a friend who was lots of fun and very caring.

“She always made people feel welcome and brought humour to any situation. Brenda was the go-to at Dunrovin and was also a good friend, thoughtful and caring.”

The staff has established Brenda’s Corner, a place in Dunrovin with a bench and other amenities dedicated to Brenda.

Regarding the bursary, Bartels said it’s fantastic it will remain local.

“Brenda cared about the community and was a Quesnel girl at heart,” she said.

“She was passionate about her town. It’s important this bursary not only support the pursuit of nursing training but that it be awarded to someone local.

Donations in Brenda’s name may be made to Community Foundation. Once the bursary reaches $5,000 it can carry Brenda’s name but until that time funds donated in honour of Brenda (a corresponding email stating your wishes to donate to Brenda Campbell’s bursary would be helpful) will be identified as such.

“The staff at Dunrovin are committed to raising $500 a year to enhance the bursary, however, in order to achieve sustainability it must reach $5,000 and the community is asked to help build this bursary fund,” Bartels said.

Cardle also said they chose a bursary to provide financial aid to someone in need, rather than other forms, such as scholarships, that target other criteria.

“This bursary was initiated by Dunrovin staff on Ross’ behalf,” she said.

“It’s about Brenda’s passion for nursing and honours her strong work ethic.”

To donate, visit www.quesnelfoundation.ca and click on the donate button. Then send an accompanying email to qcf@shaw.ca to ensure your donation is attributed to Brenda Campbell’s bursary fund.

Up to Dec. 15, any donation to Brenda’s bursary will also generate an additional matching donation to Quesnel Community Foundation’s Endowment fund.