In the late 1940s, a vivacious young woman from Livermore, California, travelled to Vancouver with her mother to embark on a cruise to Alaska on a Union Steamship Company passenger ship. For Evelyn Tilton, life aboard was enhanced by the excellent care and attention paid to her by their steward, John Bell. The budding romance eventually resulted in a Vancouver wedding at Christ Church Cathedral and the partnership of a lifetime. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2020!
John was born in Brandon, Manitoba, and raised in Vancouver. He served in the Merchant Marines during World War II and later went to work for Union Steamships before becoming a sheet metal fabricator. John had a talent for fashioning metal signs and, for many years, his work was on view throughout Vancouver.
Together the couple raised two boys, Clifford and Larry. Life was rounded out with Evelyn’s various dogs, camping trips with the boys, and John’s enthusiasm for coaching soccer. John and Evelyn shared a devout Christian faith and a love for family, friendship, and community.
Following a brush with breast cancer while in her 40s, Evelyn took up lawn bowling as a way to rebuild muscle. John accompanied her in this pursuit and the two of them became exemplary lawn bowlers. Evelyn won two gold medals in the Canadian Lawn Bowling Championships while John won silver medals at the Canadian Championships. John even served as a lawn bowling umpire at the 1996 Paralympics! Both were cherished life members and coaches at the Granville and Stanley Park Lawn Bowling Clubs.
The couple’s adventures in travel, lawn bowling, volunteerism, and general good cheer came to an end in 2021. John and Evelyn passed away within two months of each other – companions to the very end. We are grateful for the legacy gifts they left behind for both St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital, and we celebrate their lifelong championing of family, friends, and community. Thank you, John and Evelyn!