May 17, 1936 – February 28, 2022
Tannis May Killough of Midway, BC, died in Trail Hospital on February 28th, 2022 after a shockingly short struggle with cancer. Her death leaves an enormous void in the lives of her family, for whom she has always been the unifying force, and for her friends and her community where her tireless advocacy and commitment has left an indelible mark.
Tannis was born to Joe and Tannis Killough in Trail Hospital on May 17th, 1936 and spent what she described as an idyllic childhood growing up in the Kettle Valley where her father was the first forest ranger. The family later moved to Castlegar, where she graduated from Stanley Humphries Secondary in 1955.
Her teaching career began in the village of Port Alice on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. It was here that she met her husband Mike Downing (predeceased 1976). Together they taught and lived in Fort Nelson, Lytton, and Bridesville. In 1964, they settled in Midway.
In her high school valedictorian speech, Tannis wrote, “as long as we live we should learn, and similarly, as long as we learn we are living.” Her life — so full with friends and family, curiosity and adventure — is a testament to these words.
She was passionate about so many things including the native plants and sun-drenched beauty of the Kettle Valley. In one corner of her yard, a garden of Indigenous cactus, rock roses, spear grass and buttercups bloomed, a reflection of the Midway hills she loved so much.
She was deeply involved with the Kettle River Museum Society and championed the Bunk House project. She performed with The Midway and Beyond Little Theatre, played piano for services at St. Jude’s Anglican Church in Greenwood and led the singing of “O Canada” at every Remembrance Day ceremony at the Kettle Valley Cenotaph. She loved the idea of a Trans Canada Trail and lobbied for the Midway portion of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail.
At the age of 65, she laced up a pair of hockey skates for the first time and joined the Midway Ice Maidens, playing for years and loving the camaraderie of her much younger teammates. Her love of hockey started with her beloved Montreal Canadiens. As one friend said when Tannis died, “Habs Nation lost a good one.”
She loved the night sky and wouldn’t balk at driving up a dirt road by herself in the middle of the night if it meant getting a glimpse of a rare comet. She was a fiercely proud Canadian who watched Habs games and election debates in French, just to practise her second language. Right up until her last day, she kept CBC radio on, determined to stay abreast of current affairs.
She loved her Volkswagen van and riding her bicycle. If there was a family event, or celebration she would be there, including rock festivals where she danced until the wee hours alongside her grandchildren to Snoop Dog, the Hip, and the Flaming Lips.
Always well-informed, interested, active and involved, we assumed she would outlast us all. Our hearts are broken.
Tannis was predeceased by her parents, her sister Babs and brother-in-law George Bourchier, and her beloved granddaughter Riva Fisher. Tannis is survived by her four daughters, Leslie Downing (Gord Walker) of Midway BC, Hillary Downing (Hugh Fisher) of Pemberton BC, Delia Downing (Geoff Robertson)
of Rossland BC, and Siobhan Downing (Allen Walker) of Genelle BC, grandchildren Liam Fisher, Alexa and Caden Walker, Anne and Erin Simonen, Levon and Emma Farley and grandson-in-law Mat Donald. She will be greatly missed by her nieces and nephew, Theresa (Rolf) Fox, Stephen (Robin) Bourchier, Nancy (Gord) Stanton, Janet Bourchier and their children.
A service will be held at the Midway Cemetery at 1 pm on Saturday, March 26th followed by a memorial and reception at the Midway Community Centre at 2:30 pm.
*Proof of vaccination will be required unless public health orders change.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society or to the Kettle River Museum. Obituary
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