Luellen Malinda ‘Linda’ (Coughlin) McConnell, a well-known and beloved long-time resident of Ryder Lake, passed away peacefully at Chilliwack General Hospital on February 25, 2012 at the admirable age of 88. Feisty till the end, she always kept you apprised of where you stood. She was known to her close friends as Linda, to acquaintances as Luella, by business people, Luellen and by her beloved husband, John, she was “Babe”.
Linda was born in Vancouver, BC on Jan 1, 1924 to David Havelock Coughlin and Mary Ellen (Culleton) Coughlin. Being something of a ‘tomboy’ in her early years, she managed to break her arm three times, often with the help of her beloved older brother, Johnny. She attended grade school at the Ryder Lake School on Ryder Lake Road, which was directly across from the family property. On January 8, 1940, she was joined in marriage to John Carruthers McConnell at St. Thomas Anglican Church. They met at a dance at the old Ryder Lake Hall on Ryder Lake Road and thus began a lifetime together. Their first chaperones of their first official date were the now deceased Major Perrie and his good wife, Bertha.
Linda followed John to live in New Westminster until he was shipped overseas to serve his country in WWII; she then made her way to Prince Rupert to work in the Canteen. They moved back to Chilliwack and eventually built their current home in the early 1950’s. As Linda told all, she lived her entire life in Ryder Lake and was proud of it.
She worked in the hop fields with John and joined him driving truck hauling gravel to the dyke in the 1948 flood. She worked at the Fashion Bakery, Lo-El’s Ladies Shoppe and cleaned house for her life-long friend Eileen (Voight) Eaton and later helped John with his postal route in the Greendale area during inclement weather.
Although not blessed with their own children, Linda and John were caregivers for several of her nephews. The boys will never forget the lessons learned while under their care. They, and several other Ryder Lake youth, learned to eat properly and behave or else suffer Linda’s disappointment. We all eat our peas now and do not run in front of logging trucks or throw small stones at gravel trucks.
In later years, Linda spent her days alongside John, nourishing the wonders in their magical, character filled flower and vegetable covered property. She shared her veggies with neighbours until these last four years, in which her neighbours in turn shared their garden veggies with Linda and John. Their residence is a place like no other; beautiful gardens full of fresh scents and ingenious designs which they built together over their 60 years of residence. It was a place enjoyed by all; human and animal alike. Bird life abounded as they knew where to seek refuge and feed all year round. One could always count on afternoon break at 3:00 pm sharp in the gazebo in their garden. Her garden was the envy of every person who drove, rode or walked by. She shared the beauty with others by allowing friends and family to have their wedding photographs taken there and her garden was one of the featured gardens in the first few Ryder Lake Rambles were people came from across the Lower Mainland to view the rural life style of Ryder Lake.
Linda was involved with the building of the New Ryder Lake Hall which is known as the Ryder Lake Farmers’ and Women’s Institute Hall on Elkview Road. She was active until recently in the Ryder Lake Community, and helped keep the Memorial Book of Ryder Lake along with historical information on the Ryder Lake Volunteer Fire Department (currently known as Hall No. 5 of the Chilliwack Fire Department). She lived a full life, dedicated to her community in both Chilliwack and Ryder Lake.
Linda is survived by numerous nephews, nieces, grand nephews and nieces, friends and neighbours. She is now with John, her beloved husband and best friend of 71 years, who predeceased her in December of 2010. She was also predeceased by her parents; her siblings: Norman, Olive Woodruff, John, Ethel and Anna “Pat” Russell and their spouses and numerous in-laws.
Special thanks to Dr. Cambridge, staff and nurses from the ER and Units 3, 4 and 5 at Chilliwack General Hospital. Special thanks also to Ardy ‘Tilly’ Timmers of Unit 3. An Extra special thanks to their good neighbour Sharon Berney, for being there with continuous love and support, (literally every day) during the past 17 months. The family wishes also to extend their sincere thanks to the community of Ryder Lake for giving back to Linda and John who lived and thrived for their community.
Please join the family in a celebration of Linda’s life on Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 11:00 am at Henderson’s Funeral Home, 45901 Victoria Ave, followed immediately by a burial at the Legion Cemetery on Little Mountain and a reception at the Ryder Lake Hall on Elkview Road at 12:30 pm. A visitation will take place at Henderson’s prior to the service from 9 to 11 am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Chilliwack Hospice Society, 45360 Hodgins Ave, Chilliwack, V2P 1P5.
Online condolences can be left at www.hendersonsfunerals.com