Beverly Ann Stokowski (August 6, 1940 – November 4, 2021) was an enthusiastic volunteer in the activities of the Waskahegan Trail Association. Besides leading hikes, every year she led our “Last Chance” Food Station at the Canadian National Birkebeiner and she organized our participation in Edmonton’s Capital City Cleanup.
On April 20, 2022, at the Celebration of Life in Edmonton, Evie Karvellas presented her tribute to Bev.
I knew Bev as a fellow hiker, with whom I shared great conversations along the trails and in the hostels and lodges where we stayed.
The first impression one got of Bev was that of a dainty, porcelain-doll like figure, impeccably put together, even for the roughest terrain. Yes, she was the best dressed hiker. But, beneath that, she was a very experienced and seasoned sportswoman with superb endurance and a great knowledge of the outdoors, knowledge she generously shared with those like me.
Bev was so familiar with the Waskahegan Trail system that whenever a leader canceled on a short notice, she would pitch in to lead the hike and save the day. There wasn’t an inch of a trail she wasn’t familiar with.
Bev was also extremely organized. She carried a heavy backpack equipped with anything one might need during a hike. But her stuff was organized and stored in such a way that every item was at her fingertips. “You can’t find your band aids or bug repellent? Go to Bev!”
My most memorable hike was Mount Assiniboine. Bev organized the whole trip for the twelve of us. We flew into the lodge she booked and stayed four nights, in the neighborhood of a couple of grizzlies that were roaming around. The owner’s son led us on some very challenging climbs, like the Mount Nub peak, where we feasted on spectacular views and felt we could just touch the sky.
At the end of our stay we hiked out, all 27 kilometres, through freezing runoffs, peaks and valleys, woods and clearings, while constantly gauging our food and water supplies. That has been, indeed, the highlight of my hiking days, all thanks to Bev.
Having said that, Bev’s hiking skills and interests came second to her extraordinary humanity and kindness, a fact few people are familiar with. Helping others was a rule she lived by, and she did it in her own quiet fashion. She assumed responsibility for those who couldn’t care for themselves, some who lived on the coast, others in Calgary, or here in Edmonton. Here is an example:
Many years ago there was a fellow hiker who had been having serious ongoing health issues. Several surgeries had destroyed most of her muscles underneath one arm, so she was unable to carry her own backpack. But she loved coming to our hikes. Some of us took turns carrying her bag, and she was always grateful.
Some time later, the lady confided in me that not only did Bev bring her to our hikes, but she had pretty much adopted her. For months Bev had been driving her to doctor’s appointments, hospital scans, radiation and chemo treatments, even visiting her at home on a regular basis, to make sure nothing was missing. From what I understood, Bev had been her sole support system—and they had only met on our hikes!
When the doctors finally told the lady that the end was approaching, she skipped over her closest relative and appointed Bev as her executor to handle her affairs, including funeral arrangements.
This is the Bev I knew, the one I have been grateful to, and who now, without a doubt, is amongst the angels where she belongs.