Kathleen Gwen Aten (nee Barkwill) was born September 18, 1947 in Summerland, BC and died July 31, 2018 in Victoria, BC.
She was the daughter of Bill and Berolyn Barkwill. Predeceased by sister Patricia in 1980 and brother Jack (Mary) in 2018, she is survived by her loving husband Jan; sisters Robin (Susan) Wyndham, Nancy (Larry) Hunka, and Joan Skeet; brother Richard (Therese) Barkwill; sister-in-law Pauline (James) Austin; and nieces and nephews Malcolm McNaughton, Kathryn (John) McNaughton-Watts, Gwen Hunka, Sarah and Megan Barkwill, Molly (Dan) Ehmann, Anna Saprunoff, Thomas (Rachael) Austin, Ben (Maddy) Austin, and Lucie (Rob) Althorp. She was also great aunt to Scarlett and Johanna Ehman, Ella and Lily Austin, Jake and Emilie Austin, and Theo, Finn, and Olivia Althorp.
As daughter of one of the early Summerland orchardists, Kathleen Gwen, known affectionately to family and friends as Kate, lived an idyllic childhood. In a household of eight children she played in the orchards, on the beaches and waters of Okanagan Lake, and explored the back hills close by with a joy and enthusiasm she carried with her for the rest of her life.
After beginning an Art History degree at Simon Fraser, she decided to travel. Kate visited Europe and then more adventurously, Turkey, Syria, Jordon, Iran and Afghanistan and saw many places, some that now barely exist - a feat for a woman in any time. On her return, she moved to Kamloops, where she worked for a few years on the Bookmobile that serviced a large rural area, the experience of which gave her many stories to tell.
In 1979 she came to Victoria and started work in the McPherson Library at University of Victoria where she met her future husband, Jan. In the early weeks of the courtship, Kate pretended she liked cricket and Jan pretended he liked art history, but there was no pretense in the strong feelings they had for each other that endured and grew stronger over 34 years of marriage. In 1985, Kate completed her Art History degree.
Kate had a passion for gardening and interior decorating and any visitor would see that immediately. She was also an avid reader of history and collected many books relating to the BC Interior. She was intensely interested in biographies of historical characters, and even better, the diaries or journals written by people close to them. She loved conversation with others who had her same interests. She had almost impeccable taste, always poised and elegantly dressed (when out of gardening togs), was gracious, polite, and cared for everyone she interacted with. Her enthusiasm in the things she enjoyed was infectious.
In the last few years, after surviving two life threatening health crises, Kate’s energy might have waned, but her enthusiasm didn’t. She embarked upon setting itineraries for exploring the back roads of the Caribou/Chilcotin areas and while the car rattled, her usual comment was, “Let’s see where that road goes.” No trip was made without a visit to Farwell Canyon, her favourite place, and she got to see it one last time just two months ago. The road trip in August 2017 to Dawson City was very special to her as she meticulously planned it and even persuaded some family members to meet up there.
After a brief illness, Kate died in the Royal Jubilee Hospital. She will be greatly missed by her close friends: Jean Cleary, her best friend since childhood; Zoe Clement, with whom she had so much in common; Lisa Petrochenko, in whose company she always had fun, and Christine Axmann, who had known her for 50 years. All were regular luncheon companions. Her Clovelly neighbours also will miss her dearly.
Jan and Kate’s family would like to thank Dr. Robinson and all the ICU staff, especially Dr. Peter Sherk, nurses Albertina, Anne, Chris, Graham, Julie, Katherine, Liz, and Shea for their support and care during Kate’s final days, and both Jolene and Sandra, who were of special support Kate’s last day.
Kate was buried Tuesday, August 7, 2018 in the St. Stephen Anglican Church Cemetery in Summerland surrounded by family and close friends who later shared food and toasted her with champagne in her sister Robin’s beautiful garden.
Thanks to Providence Funeral Homes for all their assistance.
“They whom we love and lost are no longer where they were before. They are now wherever we are.” St John Chrystotum
Condolences may be directed to the family through providencefuneralhomes.com 250-494-7752.