Stew Tuningley’s Story

Stew and I moved from Manitoba to BC in 1996 with all the excitement of new beginnings.  Our 3 daughters were already living on the West Coast.  We settled into the beautiful Okanagan Valley and quickly made new friends and became actively involved in the community.

Stew and I both had professional careers.  I had worked as a Public Health Nurse and Stew as a High School Science Teacher.  He continued as a teacher on call for several years following our move.  Our sense of family and community drew us toward joining the Lions and Lioness clubs, and St. Georges Anglican Church.  We valued working together and the contribution we and others were able to make through volunteering.  We also loved golfing and spent many hours enjoying the game with our friends and colleagues at Shannon Lake.

It was July 21, 2011 on a Thursday morning, 2 weeks short of our 30th wedding anniversary.  Our Lioness had chosen that day to do road clean up on Shannon Lake Road.  Stew had cancelled his golf game that day and he and other Lions joined us to assist.  By 7 am Stew and I had road signs in place to alert drivers that volunteers would be at work.  We started early, by 8:00 am, because of the heat. Workers were dispensed to different sections of the road.  Stew and I were at different sites.  A 911 call was made at 8:36 that morning.  Stew had been hit by a truck and he died at the scene.  My life as I knew it was to change forever.  Our family losses that day are too many to count and there is no closure.

Charged with Driving without Due Care and Attention, the driver of the truck was given a 3 month suspension and fined $1,500.00.

I would like to say that it is a privilege to have a driver’s license and to have the ability to drive.  If people are not paying attention while driving, they are potentially driving a lethal weapon and they need to get off the road.  Please focus on your driving.

Two bursaries have been developed in Stew’s honor.  Friends, family and the Lions Club developed a bursary for presentation to a high school graduate who is pursuing a career in the field of science, and the boy and girls club have a bursary in Stew’s honor.  On the plaque that was presented to me, it read “Through his action he modeled the importance and spirit of volunteerism.”

I am very grateful for these tributes in Stew’s honor.  I do struggle with acceptance of Stew’s premature death, ending his enjoyment of life.  I miss his physical presence, companionship, discussions and sharing of daily activities, sharing family events.

The physical loss also involves the change from having two to manage the upkeep of our home, now reduced to one to complete the same workload.  The financial effect is also a burden with a reduction in income.

Today I hold onto the gift of memories and the wonderful life we had enjoyed together for 30 years.  I will forever love and miss him.

Vera Tuningley, West Kelowna, BC

Rally held September 25, 2011 following the death of Stew Tuningley


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