594 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 4 JULY 2019
could see that his youngest sister Marilyn, then 16, was struggling. He
invited her to live with him. They moved into an apartment in Marpole so
that she could finish grade 12 at Churchill Secondary School. Later they
found a place in Kerrisdale to make it easier for her to get to UBC. Marilyn
lived with Neil for six years. Neil even good-heartedly invited Marilyn’s best
friend to live with them during Marilyn’s final year at UBC. Marilyn
described how Neil cheerfully put up with their giggles and nonsense and
even seemed to enjoy being unmercifully teased by them.
At the age of 38, Neil was set up by a mutual friend to meet the beautiful
and kind Donna Rowan. Neil’s life was forever enhanced by his 46-year
marriage to Donna.
Neil was an active volunteer. He was president of the Vancouver Waterfront
Lions Club, the Vancouver Central Lions Club and the B’nai B’rith Lions
Gate Lodge. He represented the lodge on the Brotherhood Interfaith Society
board. That society had as its purpose the bringing together of peoples of all
religious faiths. Neil had a curiosity for and enjoyment of people of different
ethnic backgrounds, especially their languages, cuisines and religions.
In my 25-year practice of law with Neil, I was impressed at how Neil was
always learning new things. When he moved into immigration law he soon
mastered it. I witnessed him meeting his clients from many different countries
and saying hello to each of them in their languages. It seemed like he
had learned greetings in a dozen or more languages.
I gained much from his wisdom and his manner. Neil’s people skills were
inspiring and a pleasure to experience. There were moments when he
would come into my office to tell me something. It was about an incident,
an event or a story. I would listen intently to his serious tone and the details
that he was telling me. Partway through I would detect a slight twinkle in
Neil’s eye. As I smiled, I could see Neil’s serious face breaking slightly. Then
I realized that I had been caught as he delivered the punchline of a joke.
Neil was very active in the reunion committees for his UBC Law Class of
1959. Reunions were held almost every five years, some in the homes of
three classmates whose homes were beside each other. The participants
would move from home to home for drinks, appetizers, dinner and dessert.
His fellow committee members were Bo Fodchuk, John Cochrane, Wally
Lightbody, Marlene Scott, Garth Wasson and Gavin Connell. The last
reunion was the 55th reunion in 2014 at the Terminal City Club.
Neil and Donna never had children. This was one of the reasons for his doting
affection for his nieces and nephews. He spent a great deal of time with
them as they grew up. Neil had a big heart and loved all of his nieces and
nephews immensely. Neil and Donna generously hosted numerous family
gatherings in their warm home. There were backyard barbecues, pool parties,