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Late former Kelowna councillor remembered for community contributions

Elise Clark sat on Kelonwa city council from 1974 to 1993. - contributed
Elise Clark sat on Kelonwa city council from 1974 to 1993.
— image credit: contributed

Former long-time Kelowna city councillor Elise Clark has passed away.

Clark, who served on council from 1974 to 1993 as what was then known as an alderman, was an early local champion of the environment, as well as a tireless worker on public safety issues, including helping found the local women’s emergency shelter, the first local halfway house and the local branch of Crime Stoppers, as well as the Central Okanagan’s 911 service.

She served on the boards of many local community organizations including the United Way,  the John Howard Society and the Kiwanis Music Festival and was the first female member of the High Noon Kiwanis Club of Kelowna.

“Elise had a passion for protecting the environment and for public safety, which drove her to become very involved in community affairs,” said her obituary.

A Kelowna Woman of the Year award winner in 1995—an award she helped create 20 years earlier—Clark moved here in 1965 with her young family and worked as a public health nurse. Born and raised in Alberta, she graduated from nursing school in 1951 before marrying RCAF officer Robert Clark in 1953. The couple had two daughters, born while they were stationed overseas and after returning to Canada, Clark added a diploma in public nursing to her credentials from UBC in Vancouver in 1965, just before moving to the Okanagan.

During her 19 years on council here, Clark chaired the city’s first bicycle committee, which initiated the creation of the city’s network of off-road bicycle paths.

At Monday’s weekly council meeting, Clark was remembered by both Mayor Walter Gray and Coun. Robert Hobson, both of whom served with her on council.

“She was a great advocate for the environment,” said Gray, noting she did so at a time when environmentalism was not as popular as it is today.

He also remembered Clark as a woman who was adamant during her time on council that the title alderman should be dropped because of its gender specific connotation. After she left council, the title for people serving on a municipal councils in B.C. was changed to councillor.

Clark is survived by her husband of 61 years Robert, her daughters Antonie and Nadine, her mother and father, as well as two bothers, a sister and many nieces and nephews.

A service will be held in the spring—her favourite time of year. In lieu of flowers, make donations to the Kelowna United Way.

 

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