Dahlstrom, Helen Arline — died on 25 July 2013, in Victoria, BC, after a long and well lived life. She was 96.
Helen was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, on 5 June 1917 to Helen Wordy Underbakke (nee Machan) and Askel Osten Underbakke. She had one brother, George Austin, who died in October 2012.
She was predeceased by her husband Alton Raymond Dahlstrom in 1993. Her second husband, John Nystuen, died in 2000.
Left to mourn are her two children, Carol Dahlstrom and David Dahlstrom; her daughter?in?law, Margith Dahlstrom; her grandchildren, Kirsten Boldt, Per Dahlstrom, and Lise Dahlstrom; her granddaughter?in?law, Joey Dahlstrom; her great?grandsons, Olin, Ty, and Finn; and her nieces and nephews, Susan Hood, Lois Lewis, Jon Underbakke, Ronald Harrod, Valerie Klusa, and Boyd Thorson.
Helen spent her childhood years with her family in Hanley and Radville, Saskatchewan, where her father worked for the CNR and her mother was active in the Eastern Star. She showed early promise as a pianist. As a child she travelled regularly by train to Regina for lessons and showed exceptional focus in her daily early?morning practice sessions. She earned her Associate diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music when she was 13 and her Licentiate diploma when she was 14. She performed and taught in Regina, Winnipeg, and the BC interior until her retirement to Victoria in 2009. She was an inspired teacher and mentored scores of students toward the professional excellence that she herself had achieved.
In addition to her career as a concert pianist and accompanist on stage and radio, she conducted a number of choirs during her years in the West Kootenays. She was a highly respected examiner and adjudicator, and worked tirelessly first as president first of the BC Registered Music Teachers’ Association and then as president of the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations. It was during these years that she was instrumental in starting Canada Music Week.
Helen married Alton, the love of her life, in 1941, and their children were born during the two years following their marriage. They spent the war years in Regina and Winnipeg, where Alton, a recent graduate in law from the University of Saskatchewan, served in the Canadian army. The family moved to Rossland, BC, in 1947, where Helen and Alton made a comfortable home for their family and were active participants in community life for over five decades. They enjoyed a wide circle of friends; their friends were always welcomed in their home with grace, humour, and good will. During their children’s growing?up years, they made annual summer road trips to Victoria and also spent many happy summer holidays at Christina Lake. After raising their children, Helen and Alton travelled extensively abroad and spent many winters in the warmth of Palm Desert, California.
Helen enjoyed the final years of her life at Berwick Royal Oak in Victoria, where she made many good friends among both residents and staff. Neither her grace nor her sense of humour diminished in her elder years, and these qualities endeared her to those surrounding her at Berwick.
The family wishes to thank the medical staff at Victoria General Hospital, including Dr. Pi and the GEM team, who cared for her and her family so compassionately during Helen’s final illness; Dr. Stephen Roome; nursing?team?leader Jennifer Stanley and her staff in the care unit of Berwick Royal Oak; the administrative and dining room and staff at Berwick Royal Oak, particularly Margot and Adrienne; and especially Janette and Al Kelly, of Helping Hands, for their devoted and loving friendship over the past several years.
Cremation and burial have taken place at the Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria. A family celebration of Helen’s life will be held at a later date.
To honour Helen’s remarkable contribution to music in Canada, if they so wish, friends are invited to make donations to Conservatory Canada (45 King Street, Unit 61, London, ON N6A 1B5 www.conservatorycanada.ca).