Longtime Kamloops nurse donates $200,000 to local Y, hospital foundation

Leaves $200k legacy behind

Joan Wilson, a longtime Kamloops resident and active community member who died earlier this year, has gifted $100,000 each to the local YMCA-YWCA and the Royal Inland Hospital Foundation (RIHF).

On its website, the RIHF says the donation is a reflection of her involvement in, and love of, the community.

"Through this gift, even though she is no longer with us, she has ensured that the community she cared so much about will continue to benefit from her generosity," says the foundation's CEO Heidi Coleman in a statement. 

Colin Reid, the CEO of the YMCA-YWCA, says Wilson was a cheerleader for the the Kamloops Y.

"She lived a life where she contributed to individual and community health," he says. "Joan was a regular participant in Y activities and she was keen to share her thoughts about how the Y was serving the community and she was always willing to do her part. Her gift is a legacy that has come at just the right time."

Wilson's story begins in Blackpool, England. When she was 13 years old she lost her mother and had to raise her three younger sisters. With help from her grandmother, Wilson learned how to run a house, raise the kids and choose a career path.

She became a nurse at the age of 21; before that, she had contracted tuberculosis and had spent months in a sanatorium. While recovering she took to helping the nurses.

Later on, Wilson would go on to become a qualified midwife. It's estimated she delivered over 2,000 babies in England and Canada by the time she turned in her scrubs. 

Wilson met her husband Brian in 1953; the pair were looking for a change in life and decided to make the move to Canada. They settled in Kamloops, where they lived happily for over 60 years. Brian worked in various businesses in the River City, including in the meat department at the old Woodward's department store.

Wilson, meanwhile, started off at Royal Inland Hospital. She rose through the ranks and became the head nurse of the health unit on the North Shore. When she wasn't nursing she was honing her reflexology skills and treating patients, some who lived out of town.

"Part of her work included driving up the North Thompson, often in the winter when the roads were treacherous. Fortunately, many of the truckers would wait for her and would escort her to make sure that she arrived safely," notes the RIHF website. "She had a mission, not only to treat, but also to educate."

Wilson died on March 8, 2020 at the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Hospice House.

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