When Kathy Funk was growing up, she was a self professed tom-boy and loved every minute of it. “I loved the outdoors! I loved doing the vegetable garden, playing Frisbee, softball and playing football with the guys,” she enthused. Her father was very engaged in sports and as such, was sideline chaplain for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. “Dad loved his sports and growing up, it was so much fun having professional football players in our life,” she said.
Kathy’s father worked as a system’s analyst with Central Mortgage and Housing and was frequently transferred. “It was like being in the army,” she chuckled. While the family moved often, there was a period of relative stability while they lived in Ottawa. “I really did enjoy living there. It’s a big city and there was so much to do. As much as I liked the outdoors, I was also into culture and Ottawa offered us a bit of everything.” While living in the national capital, Kathy and her family lived at the top of a hill. “I loved snow and really wanted to ski so we got some used skis and I tried to ski down the road,” she laughed. She also admits to being naughty and grabbing onto the back of bumpers to get around.
Kathy comes by her love of the outdoors naturally. “My family was a camping family. We loved being in nature. Aside from camping, we also rented a cottage every summer. It was a great time,” she reflected. Kathy has always loved fishing and hunting, though she doesn’t do those things nearly as often as she would like to now. “I still enjoy my wild meat! We’d hunt elk, deer and moose.”
She was raised in a rather traditional home. “God and family were the central focus in my family.” There was always the expectation that each of the family’s four children, of which Kathy was the youngest, would attend Bible College.
“I actually had the intention of becoming a news reporter but ended up getting side-tracked before leaving high school,” she mentioned.
Kathy began working at the Ottawa Citizen before she was 16 years old. “I was doing some telemarketing for the paper and then soon after, I moved over to their complaints department. I worked there on a part-time basis through school and then full-time through the summer. I quite enjoyed the work,” she laughed. She was so enthusiastic that she ended up taking on a second job at Sears, taking orders and handling returns in their catalogue department.
Now at that time, Revlon, one the US’s top cosmetic houses, had a large plant in Ottawa, employing 500 people. One day, five students were called down to the guidance counsellor’s office to meet with Revlon. As it turned out, they were looking for a top student that could fit into their personnel department. “They offered me a job as an assistant to the Director of Personnel.” She took on the challenge and was hired. “Revlon ended up paying for me to take courses at Algonquin College in the area of Human Resources,” she said.
She left Revlon after a period of time and took on a summer job with the Ottawa School District. “Then, I did as my father had asked and went to Okanagan Bible College for a year. This helped me personalize my faith and from there, life just kept unfolding for me,” she said.
Kathy married and two years later, her husband, Garry, was diagnosed with lymphoma. “They gave him two months to live but he lasted 13 ½ years. He was a fighter and had such a positive, mental attitude.” At the time that Garry was diagnosed, he was the sales manager for a door company but the disease made it impossible for him to continue working in that capacity. “At that time, we were presented with the opportunity of running Charis Camp and Conference Centre in Rosedale. This way, we’d run it as a team and on those days when Garry was feeling sick, I could take care of things. Our family moved from Abbotsford to Rosedale and we took the site from a summer camp to a year-round facility,” she said. The camp, which is owned by the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada, is nestled tightly at the base of Mt. Cheam and is sheltered by 20 acres of forests and rushing creeks. “It really is a beautiful setting and we did so much work out there. There was a lodge built while we were there and the lodge and a memorial garden have been dedicated in Garry’s memory.” After he passed away, Kathy remained on site for just over a year but then she recognized that it was time to move on. “They really were very kind to me. When I left, I went to work at Pioneer Chehalis Lodge in Morris Valley but eventually it was sold to the Cheam Band and I began searching for something new,” she said.
Through Employment Services, Kathy got involved in their self employment program and the net result of the intensive analysis was that she ought to create her own event production company. “That’s when Kathleen Funk Productions was created. I worked for Brian Minter for a couple of years on the Taste of BC and then worked with the Bongo Boys on the Country Harvest Festival and other BIA events. When Netty Tam, who was heading up the BIA moved over to CEPCO, I took over as the executive director for the Downtown BIA and have been there for 11 years now. The downtown has truly become my passion,” she enthused.
Kathy still loves the outdoors but she is quick to point out that she also appreciates culture. “I do enjoy fine dining and the theatre. I guess I developed that growing up in Ottawa because they have so much to offer. I will also say that I love to cook and to bake. My mother was a fabulous cook and baker and I carry some of that same passion with me,” she chuckled.
Life is good, as Kathy will admit. She remarried last summer and along with husband Ken Dueck, the couple is enjoying wedded bliss. “He really is a great guy and his family has deep roots in this community. I do love my life and I wouldn’t want to have things any other way.”