September 1939 – February 2023
On Thursday, February 2, 2023 beloved husband and father David John Flower passed away in St. Albert after a short illness. Left to mourn his passing and cherish their family memories are his daughters Jane (Jim Burden) and Sarah (Ryan Hierlmeier) as well as many lifelong friends, colleagues, and neighbours. David was predeceased by his wife Sue (nee Amatt), his parents, and his beloved cousins Ann Marik and Peter Flower.
David was born in Guisborough, England to Eva (nee Bashforth) and John (Jack) Flower in 1939. An only child, he was especially close to his two cousins Ann and Peter with whom he spent many happy years growing up in Yorkshire. Following in his mother’s footsteps, he decided to become a teacher and attended Durham University for both his undergraduate and graduate work. While pursuing his Masters degree in Geography, he embarked on a research road trip across the Middle East with some college mates: adventures he loved to share with his daughters years later. Also, while at the University of Durham, he met a fiery red head during a game of badminton. They disliked one another instantly. Understandably, he had mixed emotions when they later ended up teaching at the same school. He often said that he would “know that red hair anywhere.” They were married in 1966 on the day England won the World Cup. Shortly after they wed, they decided to set out on a grand adventure and moved to Schuler, Alberta in 1967 to teach school. Later moving to Medicine Hat, he taught Social Studies at McCoy High School and one year bravely shepherded a group of teenage students on a field trip to Greece. Following a passion for politics and communications, Daddy supported several of Ted Grimm’s mayoral campaigns as campaign manager. In 1976, they moved north to St. Albert so he could bring all of those skills to bear as Coordinator of Communications for the Alberta Teachers’ Association where he remained for over 25 years.
Daddy was a lifelong learner who believed fundamentally that learning was something to be done every day: he owned at least three sets of encyclopedias and our basement housed shelves and shelves of National Geographic magazines. He believed that learning was equally valuable tied to your passions as to your vocation. To that end, he went back to school in his late 50s and completed his PhD in Geography, graduating in 1997 from the University of Alberta. He hated being called Dr. Flower so we loved to call him that. He’d earned it and we were proud of him.
Dad was kind and gentle, thoughtful and calm. He collected stamps, was an avid gardener, and insisted on using 1,000 nails to build a simple deck. He loved to camp and was an absolute master at bacon and fried bread over an open flame. He had a beautiful tenor voice and sang in the Anglican church choir. A man of strong belief, his wise counsel to his daughters in times of struggle was always “just have faith.” He was compassionate and fair and believed in justice and equality for all. He came from very little and often remarked that had England not had publicly funded post-secondary access, his future might have been much different. His gratefulness for that wove through all of his professional endeavours as he passionately advocated for both students and teachers alike. It was not uncommon for him to be stopped in the street or at an event by a student, colleague or teacher telling him what an impact he had had on their life.
Although there was an “event” at which his retirement was celebrated, Dad never really retired. Having been Editor of the ATA News for many years, he quickly began volunteering as editor of the STARTA (St. Albert Retired Teachers’ Association) newsletter. He always loved a good philosophical or academic debate and flew in the face of the mantra that said “never discuss politics, money or religion.” He sensibly stayed away from discussions about money, but God forbid a door-to-door salesman ring the bell of our retired Dad. He’d never buy a thing, but he’d have them there for 45 minutes engaged in banter and discussion about goings on in the world. Funnily enough, many of them came back time and time again to continue the conversation. He spent countless hours playing trivia with neighbours and walking his precious fur babies. He loved to travel and with his wife and girls visited countless countries around the world. His daughters would often tire by the time they got to abbey or museum #20, asking if they could just ‘sit this one out in the car’. His response, as he closed the car door, was always “yes, but you may never see it again.” We always got out of the car. Daddy wanted us to see the world.
Dad’s impish smile could heal any broken heart. We just wish he was here to mend ours today.
David passed away at the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert, 59 days after his wife. He was cared for by a wonderful medical team during his last days including Drs. Rajoo, Bennett and Hitchen, Nurse Practitioner Steve, Nurses Elmer and Lee, Respiratory Therapist Sandy and two Healthcare Aides Kathy and Shelley. In keeping with his wishes, there will be no service but donations in his memory can be made to the Edmonton Humane Society or the Sturgeon Community Hospital Foundation.