We Remember


February 28, 1949 — February 11, 2017

After an unflinching battle with pancreatic cancer, Vern laid down his gloves for the final time but left the ring with his hands held high. He passed away with incredible peace on the morning of February 11, 2017, at the age of 67, surrounded by his family and close friends. Vern’s generosity, gregarious spirit and “light up the room” smile fostered friendships that span decades and continents. His kindness and easy charm created a large circle of incredibly devoted friends and colleagues, while his eternal optimism inspired anyone lucky enough to meet him.

Vern was a proud and dedicated Rotarian who firmly embodied the motto of “service above self”. He was an entrepreneur, investor and director of many not-for-profit organizations and won numerous awards for his community involvement including Kelowna’s Man of The Year 2010.

But above all, Vern was a family man. He adored spending time with his wife, Willy Burgess, his mother, Hilda Nielsen, his sisters, Diane Munday (Dik), Dolly Beaudry (Wilf), Shirley Keays and Berdine Fediw (Don), his children, Rowan Nielsen (Karin), Greg Nielsen (Lisa), Jennifer Nielsen, and his 2 granddaughters, Isla and Lachlan. He leaves behind many magnificent memories of time spent on the lake, on the course, on the slopes and on the motorbikes. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to Vern’s favourite charity, the Rotary International Foundation where the Vern Nielsen In Memoriam Fund has been created in his honour. To donate visit: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-rotary-club-of-kelownafoundation/

A Celebration of Life will be held at the end of April to coincide with the Kelowna Rotary Convention he wanted so badly to attend as District Governor. Details will be distributed as plans are confirmed. The family wishes to thank everyone who shared this adventure called LIFE with him and look forward to sharing stories at Vern’s Celebration.

If you wish to send a condolence, post photos or share a memory, please scroll down the page to the area called “Share Your Condolences.”



Celebration of Life to be held at the end of April, details to be announced.

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Service Information

Service Details

The service for NIELSEN, Vern is scheduled for Celebration of Life to be held at the end of April, details to be announced.. Below you will find the map for the service location and the contact information should you have any questions.

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  • Sylvi LeBlanc says:

    Such a privilege to have gotten to know Vern and his family and friends. Rowan, keep smiling little buddy.

  • Sharon Shepherd says:

    Kelowna has lost a very community/business/politically dedicated family gentleman who will be missed by many. Our thoughts and love are with you Willy and the family. The walks in our neighbourhood will not be the same without our paths crossing.
    Mike and Sharon Shepherd

  • Vivian Turgeon says:

    Dear Rowan and family,
    Yes, you said it, Rowan. Your dad, Vern, had the biggest smile ever! Our community will miss him indeed!
    Hugs to you and Karin.
    Vivian Turgeon

  • Domenic Vinci says:

    My condolences to Willy and Vern’s family. Vern was an inspiration to many people and dedicated to many causes for the good of mankind. Your presence will be missed!

  • Colleen and Robert Linttell says:

    Our deepest condolence to you Willy and family. Vern was most respected as member of the Board of Directors for the Okanagan Capital Fund helping to finance and expand local business. Our hours of work together and assistance to many was most challenging but also most rewarding. I will certainly miss Vern’s presence and his perpetual positive attitude as a true “path finder at heart”. Robert

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