GREGORY, Hilda, C.M., O.B.C., O.D.N.W.
August 19, 1936 – November 16, 2014
Hilda was the third child and the third daughter born to Alfred and Hilda Gregory into a family of nine children in Liverpool, England. She is predeceased by her mother and father; a sister Olive; a sister-in-law Agnes (Harold); a niece Miriam; and a nephew David. She leaves to grieve her loss her siblings Joan (Leigh) in Canada, Harold, Derek, Ronald (Sandra), Pamela (Cliff), Philip (Ann) in the UK; and many nieces and nephews, as well as great-nieces and great-nephews in Canada, the UK, and the USA.
Hilda came to Canada on August 23, 1962 at the urging of her sister Joan. She taught at the Jericho School for the Deaf in Vancouver before founding the Vancouver Oral Centre (now known as the Children's Hearing and Speech Centre of B.C.) at the request of parents looking for a pre-school for their hard-of-hearing and deaf children. She led a full life devoted to serving the community in many volunteer capacities as well as professionally. In 1981 in the pre-Expo period, Hilda recognized the needs of the homeless and those hard to house, so together with five other volunteers she established the 127 Society for Housing to meet the need for low-income housing in Vancouver's downtown south. Since that time three buildings have been opened (Jubilee house in 1986, Brookland Court in 1989, and the Wellspring in 1997) providing accommodation for 268 tenants. A new building is under construction and a further one is in the planning stage; both will help provide further much-needed accommodation. In recent years under Hilda's guidance, a community worker program was established to help the Society's tenants rebuild their lives.
Undaunted by kidney failure in 1997, Hilda returned to work four months later. She led the Vancouver Oral Centre's capital campaign helping to build a new campus, bringing her dialysis equipment wherever she went. Hilda had a kidney transplant in 2001 but had to return to dialysis some five years later. During recent years, she has been an ardent spokesperson for the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Over the years, Hilda served in many senior leadership roles at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver and in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster; her deep and abiding faith in God was the foundation out of which she offered her gifts within the church and in the wider community. In recognition of the extensive and valuable work both in the church and in the community, she was invested in the Order of New Westminster in 2012.
Hilda's remarkable contributions have been recognized in many other ways. She received the YWCA's "Women of Distinction" award in 1990, 1995, and 2006, the Order of British Columbia in 1998, the Order of Canada in 1999, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Hilda died in Vancouver General Hospital with her sister Joan by her side. She had been admitted to VGH on June 26, 2014 and was there until her death. The family wish to thank the many friends who visited her during that time and who sent cards, flowers, and good wishes. They wish to give many thanks to all the staff in the nephrology and dialysis units who cared for Hilda during this time and over the last 17 years, and to the many nurses and doctors who assisted her during the last five months.
A Memorial Service will be held at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver on Saturday, December 20 at 10:30 a.m. No flowers by request. Donations honouring Hilda may be made to the 127 Society for Housing, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, the Children's Hearing and Speech Centre of B.C., the Kidney Foundation, or a charity of your choice.
Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on Nov. 29, 2014.