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Rowena Eloise

Rowena Eloise

Born: April 3rd, 1937

Passed on: July 15th, 2020

Dear Friends, Our mother, Rowena Eloise, passed on July 15th, 2020 in Nelson British Columbia. Rowena was surrounded by her loved ones at home. Rowena was born in Howell Michigan, April 3, 1937, the first of four children to Eloise and Daniel Godlieb Lamet. Her father was an engineer for the Ford Motor Company and her mother was an Occupational Therapist who stayed home once the children were born. Rowena grew up enjoying nature as her family frequently camped along the Great Lakes in the summer. As a child, she learned to advocate for those who needed her help or didn’t have a voice of their own. Standing up against bullies was a common practice for her. As a smart, confident child with a strong moral compass, she sought equality for the poor and support for the winged, two and four-legged, and finned from an early age. This set her foundation for a lifetime of work in social and environmental advocacy. Rowena met her first husband, John Tschudy, at Wayne State University where he was studying to become a dentist and she was working on her Bachelor's in Education– PHI BETTA KAPPA. They both shared a love for knowledge and travel which bonded them for years to come. In 1961 they drove from Michigan State into Canada where, in their trusty VW Beatle, they traveled the Trans Canada Highway from Ontario all the way to Revelstoke British Columbia. It was on this trip that Rowena caught a glimpse of the Selkirk Mountains for the first time, a memory that would eventually help guide her return two decades later. In 1962, post-university, John was stationed as a dentist in Libya on an Airforce Base. This North African location offered the couple adventures galore: swimming in the turquoise water of the Mediterranean, trips across the Sahara Desert (in the same VW Beetle) and exploring ancient Egyptian Temples. When John worked, Rowena would visit the markets and sketch. She also worked for charities and went on to become the Tripoli Orphanage Volunteers President. It didn’t take long for her maternal instincts to kick in and soon the couple adopted two Greek babies, John Jr. (1.5 years) and Annika (6 months) through the International Social Services. During this time of family expansion, Rowena lived in Athens while John lived on the base. One year later she gave birth to their son, Daniel William (Will). In 1966 they moved back to the little town of Elk Rapids, Michigan where John set up his own dental practice. Rowena stayed home with the children but also taught private art classes in her spare time, which inspired her own paintings and drawings. Rowena's love of her family was ever-present in these pieces. In 1969 after Rowena and John divorced, Rowena’s spark for life and inquisitive nature blossomed. She became more politically active, working with equal rights organizations and supporting food cooperatives for marginalized citizens. She also worked as a teacher during this time which helped bring home the much-needed funds to maintain her household and family’s wellbeing. All the while, she pursued a Master’s in Education—the role of the artist in conditioning cultural consciousness. Life was hard though, and being a single mom trying to care for three children while making mortgage payments and going to school, soon took its toll. She decided it was time for a change. With the wind at her back, she sold the family home, packed up her children and moved to the wild woods in northern Michigan where she founded a land-sharing opportunity for people seeking a cooperative housing experience. She traveled to places like Arizona and Mexico to explore artist colonies, intentional communities, and low impact lifestyles. She drew, painted and successfully published a time capsule colouring book that she sold and traded to cover costs. Although filled with adventure, these were tumultuous times for the small family that facilitated deep memories and more questions than answers. In 1975 she sold the land they were on and bought a different piece that was closer to town and better suited to the cold winters. In the summer of 1976, she met John Broadbent Jr. He was a young pipefitter from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, who was traveling on his motorcycle in the northeastern states. They quickly sparked up a conversation about growing up in industrialized cities and how in contrast, they now resonated with freedom and the open road. He was curious about land-sharing and often visited Rowena at her property where she and her children had built tree forts to live in which they called hooches. He was a deep thinker and they enjoyed long conversations about the esoteric. When they learned that they were going to have a baby in June of the following year they decided to travel west. For two free spirits, a converted school bus seemed like the perfect option. They worked long hours over the winter to create a custom home on wheels. In the spring of 1977, after loading Rowena’s three children, a cat, a dog, and a BMW Motorcycle into the bus they were bound for Portland, Oregon where their child Fern would be born. After exploring several land co-housing opportunities in Oregon and California they decided on a little tucked-away parcel in northern Idaho outside of Priest River. It had no running water, telephone or electricity but that didn’t matter to them. They parked their bus and began settling in. They worked the land and started to build the foundation for a roundhouse. Rowena became active in the alternative consciousness community and helped co-found Sandpoint’s first Food Co-op and a decentralized learning program for a local homeschoolers group. But, living conditions were not ideal, and in 1980 John (then called Ben by the family) and Rowena parted ways. In 1981 Rowena crossed the border into Canada and started spending time in a small town nestled on the shores of Kootenay Lake. It was here that she met her husband Herbie Kilb. Kaslo became home for her, Will and Fern. She loved the beauty of the area and involved herself in supporting sustainable food systems, local events, and helped co-found the Kaslo Independent School Society. She became connected to the First Nations community and immersed herself in their traditional ways, helping to start the Rebirth of Mother Earth gatherings near the small town of Edgewood. She continued to paint and draw. In 1983 she won an award for Outstanding Artistic Excellence in a juried show for an oil painting based on the tribal experiences she had with Indigenous elders. In 1985 she moved further up Kootenay Lake to the small community of Argenta with Fern. Here she felt at home in the town perched on the edge of a pristine mountain where the residents were living lives of simplicity and intention. For the next thirty years she dedicated her life to living in a way that was as low-impact to the earth as possible. Many of these years were spent without electricity, running water or a telephone. She became a citizen of Canada, studied consensus facilitation, non-violent communication, and built her “small is beautiful,” energy-efficient cabin. She lived on shared land, grew a garden, tended chickens, and enjoyed the company of her neighbours. She painted pictures, sold cards, and published ME-YAH-WAY-NEAS (a legend of the Woods Cree told by Red Cloud). Participation in local politics and environmental activism was a constant for her. Her fine-tuned organizational and artistic abilities helped her start and support endless community initiatives such as pesticide-free zones, clear-cut logging education, watershed protection protests, lake stewardship alliances, and the West Kootenay Green Party and Eco Society. But her big project was Jumbo Wild. Rowena was dedicated to the preservation of the Jumbo Glacier and its surrounding wilderness since the day she heard a mega-resort was proposed in the Purcell Mountains. From 1993 – 2020 she was actively involved in engaging the public and communicating to the government representatives the importance of the Jumbo corridor for nature, wildlife, and the future of the planet. Her special talent as an activist was to persist against all odds, often calling herself a “Terrier dog stuck to the ankles of the politicians”. In early 2020 the Jumbo Valley was turned into a conservation area, protecting it and its surrounding wilderness forever. In 2005, Rowena published two volumes of a multi-cultural nursery rhyme book called the Goose Family, that she custom illustrated. She had always felt there was a place for peace-focused, equalitarian, earth-friendly children’s literature and had saved favorite poems and rhymes for this reason for over half a century. The publication and distribution of these beautiful books was a lifelong dream come true for her. In 2017 Rowena moved into the Kiwanis Seniors Apartments in Nelson BC. Here she lived out the last two and a half years of her life as a self-proclaimed “retiree.” She spent her time enjoying tea with friends, visiting frequently with her daughter Fern, grandchildren Grace and Jack, and extended family who all lived close by, and of course, making art. Just before her death, she created an autobiography, three volumes-long, filled with pages of illustrations and the story of her early years in handwritten text. Rowena left this earthy planet at 83 years old, of old age. A green burial service and a small celebration of life was held for Rowena Eloise on July 18, 2020, in Argenta BC. Her body has been returned to our mother earth but her spirit has gained its wings. She can now dance with the grizzlies in the alpine and fly with the owls by the light of the moon. She has been called a legend and a hero by many because of all the people she influenced and inspired over the years. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her. Rowena Eloise is proceeded by her son John Jacob Tschudy (Jack) and many dear friends. She is survived by her sister Virginia Kaai, brothers Dan and Jim Lamet; daughters Fern Sabo (Steve) and Annika Jones; son Will Tschudy; grandchildren Grace and Jack Sabo, Essence Townsend-Tschudy, Janoviea, and Jerako Jackson and Deashia Simmons; and five great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers we request donations be sent to the Nelson End of Life Society (231 High Street, Nelson, V1L 3Z6), which supports alternative end of life care. E-transfers can be made through contact@nelsociety.org.