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  • "We want to extend our sympathy to your family at the loss..."
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    - Sandra Anderson
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Vancouver artist John Koerner died peacefully at home on February 23, 2014 at the age of one hundred. He is survived by his wife Lisa Birnie (sons Crispin and Jonathan); his daughters Diane (Stephen Owen) of Vancouver and Sidney (Erik Williams) of Palm Springs, CA; his four grandchildren, Taylor Owen (Ariel Vernon) of New York; Jason Owen (Maggie Jackson) of Vancouver; Erin Williams Hyman (Rabbi Micah Hyman) of San Francisco; Brian Williams (Kelly McMurphy) of Portland; and seven great- grandchildren (Katelin, Madeline, Nathan, Theo, Liam, Benjamin and Walter). He was predeceased by his first wife, Eileen Newby (mother of Sidney and Diane) in 2001. John was born in Czechoslovakia in 1913 and, after studying law and art in Prague and Paris, left Prague ahead of the Nazi invasion and moved to Vancouver with other Koerner family members in 1939. For the first few years he worked for the family lumber company, reconstituted in British Columbia as Alaska Pine. In 1950 he began painting full time while teaching art, first at the Vancouver School of Art, and then at the University of British Columbia. He was an original member of the West Coast Modern Art Movement and his work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The Tate Gallery, London; Claire Hall, Cambridge University; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; Vancouver Art Gallery and numerous private collections including that of Vaclav Havel. John's life was a rich and intensely active spiritual journey. He was a life-long student of German philosopher Bô Yin Râ, conveying in his art the duty to celebrate life and beauty and "to make visible the invisible". He believed it true that in all circumstances "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out". While John's work was exhibited internationally, of equal importance was the effect of his calm, courteous and accepting manner on all who knew him. He was a man of great wit who knew how to love deeply and remained so to the end. Services will be private.

Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province from Feb. 28 to Mar. 3, 2014
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