December 28, 2018
After a six year battle with pancreatic cancer, Colleen passed away on December 28th. She died at 8:45 am in Vernon Jubilee Hospital, just one day short of her 73rd birthday, surrounded by close family members. Colleen was predeceased by her mother Johanna Sigridur (Nordal), her father Dr.Cecil Melville Couves, and brother Bobby. She is survived by her partner of 23 years, Keith (Brookes) ; son Darien (Theresa) Sillence and grandchildren Keenan , Kiana (James) and Jenna; son Travis (Gillian) and grandchildren Ellie and Emmett; also, her sister, Dianne Couves; and her brothers Ron (Pam), Brent (Michele) and Brian (Helen) and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Colleen was born in Regina, Saskatchewan but her childhood would be spent in Sheffield, Edinburgh, Atlanta, and Houston where Dr.Cecil Couves, continuing his surgical studies, was mentored by Dr.Michael Debakey , world renowned heart surgeon. A job beckoned in Edmonton and they returned to Canada where they put down roots again and the children finished their schooling. Her mother was a trained nurse, her father a noted surgeon, so it didn’t surprise anyone that Cecil expected his daughter to become a doctor. But Colleen had other ideas. She enrolled at the U of A and took a teaching degree with a major in Art. She was not happy in her place of teaching so when, in 1981, her husband Geoffrey (Sillence) was offered a job in the Okanagan they took their two boys and settled in Vernon where Colleen pursued her most powerful calling – her Art.
Her first major accomplishment- in the mid-eighties- was to become a founder of The Galloping Goose, an outlet for artists and artisans. For a while, her work followed a solitary path, but her name kept growing as she gained recognition in the community, and in the late nineties, with a few other like-minded artists, she became a founding member of Vertigo, a vibrant new gallery and studio for artists in Vernon. She went on to have juried shows in Vernon Municipal Art Gallery, and her work was displayed and sold in Gallery Odin on SilverStar, at the Caetani House, and at the Havana Gallery in Vancouver
Colleen’s art work was outstanding whatever the medium, or the subject. She did not limit her output to figures, portraits, scenes from nature, but was adept at all: in her later work, her love of animals, trees, ethnicity, states of mind became more apparent in her paintings as she sought to share her view of the world through her art. Her world view was shaped by her readings from some of the greatest thinkers who have sought to integrate humanity with their world. Her valued authors include Jean Vanier, Richard Rohr, Thich Nhat Hanh, Hildegarde of Bingen, Tara Brach and Diana Beresford Kroeger. Colleen sought to adhere to Buddhist principles of otherness: believing that no life is without value, seeking to see beyond the outer appearance, practicing forgiveness and advocating tolerance above all. These were ideas she embraced and sought in her own life as she worked to find her bliss. She did not adhere to organized religion yet was one of the most spiritual of beings. Her gift to humanity is love, love that radiated from her. She was gentle, wise, and understanding. Many people so loved her that they have taken her words, her outlook, her being into their hearts as inspiration. She will live on in them.
Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices in the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Cor.13:1-13
Colleen requested cremation, passing from the world as simply as she entered it. The family intend a Celebration of Life later, sometime in the Spring.