When Paul Westwell finished dinner with his family on Friday, September 20th, he did the dishes and kissed Glory as he headed out for a walk with his dearly beloved daughter Sheila, her fiancé Damien and their great golden lab, “We should kiss more often,” Glory said, “We’re getting older and you just never know.” As it turned out, that was their final dialogue.
Glory Westwell and her great kids, Brian, Jon and Sheila, are sad to announce the passing of Paul from this life. They are incredibly thankful for the outpouring of friendship and love shown to them over the past few days. For those who had the misfortune of not knowing Paul, some observations are in order. He was, above all, authentic, level-headed and caring of those around him. For him, family was first. After those closest to him came his many, many friends and colleagues. His genuineness attracted people to him naturally. This was a guy to whom people gravitated, because they always felt better about themselves from spending time in his company.
Paul Spanky (another story) Westwell was a wonderful amalgam of humour, temper and love. To say that he was funny, actually, would be like saying Kal Lake is damp. Nobody was ever around him when they didn’t feel better; he just had to show up, as he had a knack for making others comfortable. His funny bone was easily tickled, and he frequently joined comedy with his pet peeves, and in particular politics and wasteful (the only kind) bureaucracy – well, the poor bidding of good bridge hands also. One had to be there to hear his imitations of P.E.T, for example, even with his lousy French accent. His golfing pals were witnesses to his occasional outbursts of what euphemistically might be called upset, which were never directed at others, but always and only at himself.
Not long prior to his passing, he was having an awful game at Predator Ridge, where he and Glory enjoyed living in a community of warm friends. After about 6 shots on a par 5, he still hadn’t reached the green and then laid the turf over his next shot. At which point, with his blood pressure rising, he raised his club to eye level, looking at it as if it were an instrument of Al-Quaeda WMD, and snapped it in two over his knee; he then simply tossed one part into the left fescue and helicoptered the other into the right rough. He proceeded in a fluid move to retrieve another weapon for his next unhopeful swing.
His brief explosions were spent quickly and out of his system. His pals spent hours looking for and finding (part) of the discarded club, had it mounted, and presented it to him as the first recipient of the “AMA” (Anger Management Award). He loved the gesture. He intuitively understood that it was evidence of enduring and meaningful companionship. He often reciprocated. For example, when it came to providing advice about his friends’ personal issues and to clients’ taxation questions, he sometimes preferred citing the Rule of Holes: “Once you discover that you’re in one, quit digging.”
As for love, nothing matched his devoted love for Glory, his kids, and his grandchildren. Two weeks before his death, at a backyard party for his 63rd birthday, his eldest Brian put it succinctly and accurately: he was not just a good Dad, “He is a great Dad.” He never bragged, but when Paul spoke of Brian’s successful automotive career or of Jon and his excavating venture, you would be hard-pressed not to notice his chest expanding and the corners of his lips starting into his wry kind of smile. As to Sheila, who after numerous university degrees recently passed her CA exams, Paul’s pride was quiet but visibly expansive; one could always tell when he was most proud: he said fewer words and let his kids’ accomplishments speak for themselves.
Born in North Vancouver, Paul attended Holy Trinity and Vancouver College, and then entered UBC with the PNGA Caddie Scholarship – he caddied at nearby Capilano Golf Club – and continued on to receive his B.Comm and begin articling at Touche Ross in Vancouver.
Paul and Glory were married in 1973, and the two enjoyed 7 years together before starting their family and moving to Quesnel, where Paul began work at Rigsby Lea Barr Chartered Accountants. In 1991, by then an established CA, Paul and the family planted their roots in Vernon, where they started Westwell & Company Chartered Accountants.
Paul could often be heard advising his golf buddies or bridge partners to “play every game like it’s your last.” Asked how he was doing, and he would sometimes reply, “It’s a great day; I’m on this side of the grass.” It is with similar bittersweet sentiment that we remember Paul. Even as we come together in this tragedy, everyone finds themselves in laughter one moment and in tears the next as the numerous anecdotes are recounted.
Always open to try new things, Paul took up skiing in his 40s and even tried snorkeling in his 50s, despite his general aversion to getting wet above the waist. The skiing took, and soon Paul and Glory found themselves in a labour of love resurrecting the old Attridge cabin on Silver Star. There, they made many new friends, who enjoyed his warm hospitality and the odd glass of wine.
Paul gave back to the community in many ways; through the Finance committee for Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, as the Treasurer for Habitat for Humanity Vernon Chapter, and in minor Hockey and Soccer in both Quesnel and Vernon. Among his many achievements, Paul was, remarkably, the only three-time winner of the Holland Derby, an annual two-man team affair at Predator.
Paul will be lovingly missed by his wife Glory, his son Brian with wife Nicole, his daughter Shelia with fiancé Damien, his son Jonathan with wife Chelsea, his three grandchildren Ethan, Chloe and Mason, and his sisters Kathleen, Yoland (Andrew), Charlotte (Frank), and Monica (Dennis). He is pre-deceased by his beloved son Ian.
Glory and family gratefully acknowledge everyone’s visits and wishes, and they invite all to the Funeral Service to be held at St. James Catholic Church on Friday September 27th at 4:30 p.m., followed by a Celebration of Life tribute to Paul at the Predator Club House at 6 p.m. If you wish to make a donation, please contact Habitat for Humanity Vernon Chapter at www.vernonhabitat.com.