June 21, 1920 – December 26, 2020
Gena Vipond (aka, Jean Fuller, Jean Osmack). It is with great sadness that I share the sudden passing of my mother Gena Vipond on December 26, at Mountain View Lodge in Lillooet, B.C. at 100 years old.
Mom was born in Edmonton, Alberta to Minerva Scott and Winfield Fuller. She was the youngest and only girl in a family of four brothers. At 10 years of age she was drawn to dance which began her lifelong love and dance teaching career that only stopped when she was 93 years old living in Lillooet, B.C. and teaching Hawaiian dancing to senior ladies much younger than herself.
They were “Her Girls” and performed at various functions in Lillooet. They loved it because it was so much fun. It is this, plus her love of walking, that kept her body supple and strong. In her 20’s she was a Health and Recreational Leader in Edmonton and became part of a championship gymnastic team and also taught gymnastics at the YMCA.
Mom was courageous, creative, a gentle soul, and a true lady. In 1950, she and her two daughters, Evelyn and Paddy, moved to Kelowna where she started the Jean Fuller School of Dancing which became the Jean Vipond School of Dancing after she married Arthur Vipond in 1955.
She had branches in Westbank, Penticton and Kamloops with students ranging from tiny tots to adults. She was also an accomplished ballroom dancer and taught this for many years.
Mom had a third daughter, Sherilynn in 1959 which brought her great joy. They were very close. In 1963 the family moved to Okanagan Mission and started organic gardening with amazing produce. It was a logical extension for her and Art to open a Natural Food Store in the Mission called “Vital Vittles” from 1972 – 1983. At this time her niece Bonnie Fuller, who mom called her fourth daughter, came to live with them for four years.
Mom was the glue that kept the larger family together. She orchestrated reunions and was the family chronicler. She was thrilled to get to know her granddaughter Kerri and family living in Saskatchewan. She and Art enjoyed travelling – to New Zealand, the Maritimes, NWT and Hawaii. The trip that meant the most to her was going to Holland in 2005 with Evelyn for the 60th Anniversary of WW2 to find her brother Vernon’s grave. He was killed just as the war ended by a sniper. This journey brought mom great peace.
When Art passed in 2006, mom moved first to Berwick in Kamloops and then in 2010 to Lillooet to be near Sherilynn and husband Max Gillis. There she met Sheran Barton who became her best friend. They would go for long walks and play endless card games.
After a few health scares, mom moved into Mountain View Lodge, an Extended Care facility in Lillooet. Covid could not stop us from celebrating mom’s 100th Birthday in June. All her Hawaiian ladies and Evelyn gathered on the front porch – well distanced – to sing Happy Birthday, share stories and a huge cake. Distant relatives accompanied her birthday via zoom.
Sadly mom lost two daughters, Sherilynn Gillis in 2014, and Paddy Vipond in 2015. She was also predeceased by her brothers: Walter, Charley, Arthur, Vernon and her sons-in law Max Gillis and Wilf Schmidt (Evelyn).
Left to carry on her legacy is her eldest daughter, Evelyn Vipond-Schmidt, her grandchildren Shane Vipond and Kerri Keith (Colin) and three great grandchildren, Kristen, Chelan, Rachel and special niece Bonnie Mann (Bill), plus many other nieces and nephews and her dear friend Sheran Barton.
Mom touched the lives of so many people who loved her, learned from her and were inspired by her. She will be sorely missed but her spirit will live on.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.firstmemorialkamloops.com
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