We Remember


August 1, 1925 — March 27, 2015


Fenton – John/Johnsey – It is with great sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of our father, William Johnston (John/Johnsey) Fenton on March 27, 2015. He will be deeply missed by his loving wife Shirley (nee Lowe); his children Warren (Lynne), Patrick and Deborah (Pat); his grandchildren Heather, Cameron, Amy, Patricia, Colleen, Johnsey, Erin, James and Kathleen and his great-grandchildren Evan, Colton and Remington. John will also be sorely missed by Shirley’s children Susan, Rick, Brad, Jeff, Brian and their families. He is pre-deceased by his parents, his first wife Betty and his sister Carrie. Johnsey is survived by his brothers Jim and Mickey and his sisters Irene, Phyllis and Colleen, their families and many friends and colleagues. Johnsey’s leadership, sense of humour and zest for life will always be treasured.

We will gather to celebrate Dad’s life at 1:00pm on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at Springfield Funeral Home, 2020 Springfield Road, Kelowna, BC. “May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love.”

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Central Okanagan Hospice Association, 1456 St. Paul St., Kelowna, BC, V1Y 2E6. For more about John’s life and to offer a condolence a longer obituary will be place on this website shortly. For those wishing to send a condolence, photos or share memories, may do so by scrolling down this page to the area called “Share Your Condolences.”


Eulogy for William Johnston Fenton

 Johnsey, John, Dad, Papa


 Good afternoon.  As Clair mentioned, my name is Warren and I am Johnsey’s oldest son.  On behalf of the Fenton family I would like to thank all of you for coming today and also to anyone who may have tuned in via the Internet; especially family members in Ireland, in the United States and travelling overseas.

A few days back Dad shared with us an Irish saying that his mother (my “Nan”) had used to say; “It’s an ill wind that doesn’t bring some good.”   While we are saddened by this loss, we now have an opportunity to gather together today to fondly remember all those great things he brought into our lives.

I would like to express our gratitude to Shirley for the long months she cared for Dad, staying at his side over a long difficult period.  Thank you as well to the nurses and medical staff  who helped Dad over the past year,  the staff and volunteers at the Central Okanagan Hospice House in Kelowna and all of you who have reached out to our family with kindness and support.  It has meant a lot.

My Dad was a remarkable person.  It is very difficult to summarize his life in the time we have here today.  I will try to outline a little of our history and in doing so touch on only a very few highlights and stories.  There may be tears and hopefully there will be laughter as well.

Dad was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1925.  Having an Irish background can affect a family in some significant and sometimes unusual ways:


  • What other family can say that they routinely started St. Patrick’s Day with a pitcher of green milk on their cereal?  (Fine if it’s Cheerios; not so great with Fruit Loops.)
  • Our family has great grand- sons heading off to school proudly dressed head to toe in green, grand- daughters who have taken up Irish dancing and one grandson who spent his entire 21st birthday at the Guinness brewery in Dublin exploring his grandfather’s heritage.


Dad’s family emigrated to Canada in 1928.  They came by steamship (Dad’s first “cruise”); landing at Pier 21 in Halifax and then on to Quebec City to board a train to north-central Saskatchewan near the town of Canwood.  Life on the northern prairies at that time was very hard.

In April 1936 Dad and his family moved to British Columbia. They eventually settled in Coquitlam /Maillardville; which at the time was where many of the workers employed in sawmills and other forest products processing plants located along the Fraser River had settled.  Eventually one of the largest operations that emerged was at Fraser Mills; where the Canadian Western Lumber Company (became division of Crown Zellerbach ) had its operations.

Dad grew up in Coquitlam in a bustling Irish household with 2 floors and 3 small bedrooms that accommodated 3 brothers, 4 sisters together with their Mom and Dad.   At times there were also 2-3 dogs, chickens, a bird-house for small birds, a cow, and sometimes goats, pigs and rabbits . (No IPADS or smart –phones at this kitchen table!)

The forest industry dominated Dad’s life and ours over five decades. Imagine a family today where the grandfather, the father, most aunts and uncles, the kids (ie. Deborah, Patrick and myself) and many of our cousins as well ALL worked for the same company at one time or another.

Dad joined the Army in 1944.  He was trained as a marksman and as a mechanic.  He did not go overseas because his Normandy/D-Day bound train was stopped before it reached Halifax due to an outbreak of the mumps.  He was deployed instead to southern Alberta to help guard German prisoners of war. By then he was learning many of his outstanding interpersonal skills and developed such a rapport with the POWs that they gave him 3 Ships in Bottles (one is on display outside the chapel).

At this time Dad began to pursue other interests that became lifetime passions; golf, fishing, camping,  generally having a good time and music.   We think that this may be the time when somebody introduced him to the guitar.   Music was always central in the Fenton household from Saskatchewan days to today.  Thank goodness for that and thank goodness for the guitar!

Camping and fishing adventures were central to all phases of Dad’s life.  A tradition for a few years was the annual brothers and brother-in-laws  May/October  long weekend fishing trip to the Cariboo.  Dad was so keen to go on these trips that he not only helped drive everyone to the lake; he set up the tent (a heavy canvas military –style monster of a tent) in the dark, in rainy almost freezing conditions,  while the rest of the uncles huddled by the fire in the lodge drinking beer and sleeping in a warm spot.  What a leader!

On another one of those camping trips to the Okanagan Dad met a girl from Vancouver; Betty Greenlaw (our mother).  They were married in August 1951 and I arrived in June 1952.

When I was born, Dad was working as a salesman selling lumber out of Calgary.  Mom and Dad moved back to Vancouver about two years later.  Patrick arrived in 1956 and Deborah in 1958.   We lived right next to the original family home in Coquitlam; (pigs and goats were gone) and near most of our aunts, uncles and cousins. There were family picnics, family gatherings, Christmas parties in unfinished basements (remember the “kids’ table”?)   There was always, always, always music —that old guitar kept making an appearance.  In the summertime, Dad shared his love of camping with us as we spent time in Penticton, fishing at Lac La Jeune near Kamloops and various lakes in the Cariboo .  These trips were the roots for a love of nature and the outdoors in all of us that continues today and has been passed on to our children.

Dad displayed amazing patience when taking us all fishing.  For example on one trip he had 3 little kids in a small boat trolling for trout (all with big gang trolls).  We caught and landed 3 fish simultaneously without tangling lines or snagging each other, Dad or wrapping lines around the motor. There may or may not have been directions to keep that “bleeping,,,,,,,rod tip up” or make sure your “bleeping…rod is out to the side” etc.  (Ok; maybe this was “Irish patience”).

Sports were also important throughout Dad’s life.  Dad played basketball, curled and of course golfed –a lot (he actually had 3 holes-in-1 during his lifetime).  I will sorely miss my weekly chats with Dad about the current state of whatever sport in that season might be.  Recently it seemed that Dad and Shirley watched every CFL, NHL, NBA, curling and golf match that had taken place over the previous week.

Dad also took us to games.  Patrick and I will never forget our first game at Maple Leaf Gardens (hey –that was 1967 –the last time Toronto had a real team).  Rail seats; Gordie Howe, Dave Keon,  the Big M.  Dad coached hockey in Toronto,  watched us play various sports (e.g. Deborah –ball) and later on watched and encouraged  grandchildren  in whatever they tried from hockey to lacrosse to football to basketball to soccer and  volleyball.

In December 1966 our Dad took our family beyond the known Fenton family universe .   We moved from Coquitlam to Toronto, Ontario.  This took a huge amount of courage.  He showed us how important it is to take a chance in order to grow individually and as a family.  His example has since been followed by all his children (Lynne and I moved to the NWT, Deborah to the BC Peace Country  and Patrick to Kitimat, BC).   All of our kids have travelled widely and not hesitated to move around and try new things.  The inspiration for doing this came from Papa.

While living in Toronto we went to Expo 67, explored the Great Lakes basin and even went to the Maritimes and Newfoundland.  Our family visited Niagara Falls more times than some other families travel to the local supermarket.  We went in all seasons and saw the falls every possible way other than climbing in a barrel and going over ourselves as a group.

Mom and Dad moved back to BC after 5 years; back to Coquitlam to a newer neighbourhood with a view of the mountains, guard lions in the driveway and a—pool , a venue for lots of extended family gatherings , a new guitar and more music!!

Mom and Dad also started travelling and visited Lynne and I in the East sharing tales of overseas trips of trips to Ireland, Scotland and other European destinations.  On one such memorable occasion we were able to see the principle of the Irish Diplomacy in action.  After a great meal at a Romanian restaurant on Yonge Street south of Eglington Avenue, Dad left the restaurant a little fuzzy from jet lag and a little wine and proceeded to get in the first “yellow cab” he saw.  What he hadn’t realized was that in the late 70s in Toronto; cabs were actually blue and police cars were yellow. (some how he talked his way out of it –a true Irish diplomat ).

In the late 70s and 80s we children had all finished schooling, had started careers and started families.  I had pursued a career in Environmental Protection, Patrick joined the RCMP and Deborah became a teacher.  Mom and Dad moved to Kelowna in the early 80s.  They started to enjoy life; taking more trips abroad and to tropical places.  They also purchased a camper and fishing boat and took many trips in BC with great friends.  There was also more and more golf.  And even better– another pool; that was shared with all of us.  Great get-togethers with his brothers and sisters and a destination resort for his children with the grandchildren.

Dad retired in 1990 and our mom passed away in 1993.  Dad then met a special lady (Shirley) a couple of years later and was accepted into the Lowe family.  They spent almost 20 wonderful years exploring the world; enjoying life to the fullest and travelling to every corner of the globe.  Thank you Shirley, for sharing that time with him.

My Dad was indeed a remarkable man.  He has touched all of us in a special way.  I have barely scraped the surface to describe a few experiences over the past 89 years.  Dad often described his latest cruise or hike in the Arizona desert as being “superb”!!  Indeed, it was Dad – and so were you  – superb !!

And we will always love you for that.                                  WWF 11-04-15


1:00pm on Saturday, April 11, 2015

Springfield Funeral Home

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Central Okanagan Hospice Association, 1456 St. Paul St., Kelowna, BC, V1Y 2E6


Service Information

Service Details

The service for FENTON, W.J. is scheduled for 1:00pm on Saturday, April 11, 2015 . Below you will find the map for the service location and the contact information should you have any questions.

Address & Contact for Service Location:

Springfield Funeral Home

2020 Springfield Road Kelowna, BC


Special Requests:


Funeral Pointers:



  • Brad Torry says:

    We were saddened to hear of Uncle Johnsey’s passing but cherish our memories of his vibrant spirit and sense of humour. I still remember visiting the house as a teenager and almost eating an entire roast before being reminded others still had to eat and Uncle Johnsey saying to let the boy eat, he’s hungry. Blessings and prayers. The Torry clan in Texas

  • Brenda Richardson says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time. I was truly blessed to grow up with aunts , uncles and cousins throughout my childhood years and will always treasure those moments. The Fenton family taught me how important this is and because of my upbringing I now pass this onto my children and grandchildren. Over the past few years we have been truly blessed to be able to visit with Uncle Johnsey and Aunty Shirley each time they came to stay with my mom Phyllis. He always amazed me with his quick wit and sense of humour, but probably the most amazing, was the old stories they would tell us about all of them growing up as a family. Thank you Uncle Johnsey for all you gave us, rest now in peace. Hugs to everyone, love Jim, Brenda and family. Maple Ridge BC

  • David fenton (ireland) says:

    We were very sad when we received Shirley email telling us that Johnsey had passed away. What can I say about him. We were so happy when he came to ireland, first to visit my parents, jim and dor and have a taste of Jameson, which I think he enjoyed. On their last visit we went to Johnie Foxes with all our family to see the irish dancing which we all enjoyed. When we went to visit our cousins in Canada we were so well looked after, u all have the bit of IRISH wit and craic. Johnsey we all will miss you.
    Ar dheis. De go raibh a anam dilis
    (May he rest in peace)

    David ,Jean, Jonathan, Ide, Stephen,Jenny and Garry.

  • George Pearson says:

    Yes,John was respected and loved by his family,but the personal qualities that made hin so also applied to his business life where he was also respected and yes, loved. He was so decent and so unique. His collegues all have memories that will be with us forever. George Pearson

  • Gladys Rowlett says:

    I am saddened to learn of your loss, Shirley and the family . I did not know your husband but know you….it is a very sad time ..my sincere sympathies to all of you. May we see you at the golf course sometime.
    Sincerely , Gladi

  • Raymond&ida young n ireland says:

    We have all lost such a unique and loveable character with Johnsey’s passing. It was a joy to be in his and Shirley,s company on their visits to his home turf of Northern ireland. He enjoyed so very much recalling his younger days here at home and had us all enthralled with the many stories. He especially enjoyed his visit to his old family home on the Woodvale road in Belfast which still stands to this day.The visit to the Giants Causway was another memorable time when we stopped off at Bushmills and of course visited the famous Distillery there. He was somewhat of an expert in distinguishing between the various malt whiskies on offer. Let’s just say Johnsey’s departure on that day was a slightly unsteady exit , but he had a very healthy colour and it wasn’t due to the sunny day!
    How we shall miss that quick wit and loveable Irish character.
    Peace is yours Johnsey the happy memories ours.

  • Jim Shields says:

    April and I were saddened to hear of John’s passing. He had a big influence in the beginning of my business career. His integrity and joy of life will always be remembered. St. Patrick ‘sDay at Fraser mills was always an adventure when the big Irishman was in town. Our condolences to all of John’s family at this time but please remember that he had a huge impact on others lives and was truly loved by many.

  • Russ & Carol Knudsen says:

    Shirley sorry to hear about your loss of John.Russ always enjoyed working with him on the Pancake breakfast.We always enjoyed speaking with him on our street.
    Russ and Carol Knudsen

  • Irma and Rich Verner says:

    We had the pleasure of getting to know John during his trips to Calgary. Our thoughts go out to you Shirley and John’s family.
    Rich and Irma Verner

  • Maeve and Lawrence Young says:

    Maeve and I are so sorry to hear the sad news. Johnsey was a wonderful man with a unique personality. He never lost his love for his Irish roots and family members back in Ireland. We always enjoyed his many visits to Northern Ireland when Johnsey was always the life and soul of the party. Our condolences to Shirley and the wider family and friends.

  • Mary Meronek says:

    Dear Shirley
    I am thinking of you and sending you my deepest condolences and a hug. John was truly a gentleman and will be missed.

  • Dorothy Nixon says:

    So sorry to hear of the death of my dear cousin Johnsey. Fondest memories of his visits to Belfast and the wonderful and fun times we had together. Deepest sympathy to Shirley and families.
    Dorothy Nixon and family.

  • Melinda Moorhouse and family says:

    I will always remember the infamous floating pickle!! The indoor pool in Coquitlam and to their beautiful pool in Kelowna many great memories of Uncle Johnsey, his wit his humor and he really did have a pretty good singing voice. The visit Wayne and I had with him just before he passed at his home with Shirley was really great and I am so glad that I was alble to do that. To the family your dad will be in our hearts forever.

  • Ed Nowakowsky says:

    Shirley, my thoughts and prayers are with you. You and John have been the dearest of friends for many years. Many were the laughs and scotchs that were shared with both of you. Having gone through a similar loss myself, I know the pain and sadness you are feeling. John was a gentleman and a great guy. Take comfort in remembering your wonderful time together.

    Your friend,
    Ed Nowakowsky

  • Donald Townsend says:

    John lived the life to the fullest whether it was at home or business l will miss him as l has been a friend for some 50 years Shirley you had many good years with John We will never miss him in our hearts Don

  • Raymond&ida young n ireland says:

    We were so sorry to hear of Johnsey’s,s passing. A source of great fun and laughter on the visits home with Shirley. How we shall miss him and the great craic we all shared. Peace is his, fondest memories ours. Cousin Raymond and wife Ida.

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