Oliver couple remembered as very generous

Oliver couple remembered as very generous

Donna Kelso (left) from Desert Valley Hospice Association accepts a sizable donation from the Farmer family, represented by Fiona Wood. (Keith Lacey photo)

By Keith Lacey

An Oliver couple has generously gifted more than $500,000 to three organizations in this region and the beneficiaries will include those seeking hospice services and the organization that provides animal cruelty protection services.

Michael and Janet Farmer, who enjoyed a quiet retirement life in Oliver for more than 35 years, didn’t have any children or extended family, so they made provisions in their will to assist community organizations that do good work, said good friend and executive of the Farmer family estate, Fiona Wood.

Michael Farmer died three years ago and his beloved wife passed away two years ago, said Wood.

The Farmers were going to split their $550,000 in assets between the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) and the Salvation Army.

But when Wood told Janet about the wonderful work being done by the Desert Valley Hospice Society in the months before she died, Ms. Farmer decided to split the money three ways, said Wood.

“When I informed her about hospice services and the great work being done by the DVHS, she made it very clear she wanted to split the money three ways, instead of two,” said Wood. “She felt she could help more people that way.”

Just last week, Wood was kept busy finalizing the legal documents that confirmed the Farmer estate would donate $118, 576.13 each to DVHS, the BCSPCA and Salvation Army.

Janet Farmer passed away on Jan. 28 of 2015, so it took almost two years to the day to go through the bureaucratic red tape to have their assets legally dispersed, said Wood.

“It does involve a lot of red tape, but the good news is the money is going to three organizations the Farmer family really wanted to support and it’s going to help a lot of people,” she said.

Michael Farmer was a pilot in the British Air Force and Janet was a civil engineer and they spent many years travelling the world before settling in Oliver 35 years ago, said Wood.

“They really enjoyed their retirement years in Oliver,” she said. “My husband, Irv Wood, and I became very good friends and because they had no family, they asked me to become the executor of their estate.

“It has been very exciting for me to be involved in this because I’m honouring their wishes and this is a significant amount of money that is really going to help a lot of people.”

Ken Clarke, the president of the DVHS, said the organization is honoured and privileged to have received such a generous donation from the Farmer family.

“Gifts, such as the one we have received from the Farmers, allow us to continue to support excellence in the delivery of compassionate, hospice palliative care and end-of-life services right here in our communities of Oliver and Osoyoos. It also allows us to provide support and encouragement and practical assistance to those on the palliative journey and to promote public awareness of hospice care.

“Michael and Janet have modelled for us the kind of legacy we can leave to our communities. So many in our communities give generously their whole lives. This is a way of  leaving a lasting gift.

While we do receive funding from other sources, DVHS is dependent upon the generosity of individual donors,” said Clarke.

“These gifts directly support the programs and services we are able to offer to those dealing with a life-limiting, life-threatening illness or end-of-life realities,” he said.

Lori Chortyk, general manager of community relations for the BCSPCA, said the generous donation will help save the lives of hundreds of pets throughout the South Okanagan as all the money will remain in this region for programs and services.

“It’s generous donations like this that are bequeathed that make all the difference in the world to organizations like the SPCA,” said Chortyk. “It really changes what we will be able to do to help protect animals in this community.”

This large sum of money will allow SPCA staff in Penticton to conduct hundreds of cruelty investigations across the South Okanagan, purchase dog and cat food and equipment for the current shelter, and offer many other programs and services, she said.