Donna Townsend

Donna Townsend



50 years…where has the time gone?  Making history for sure….some to do again and again and others once was/is enough!

My work: My road after high school was bumpy as the classes I took in high school did not prepare me for a nursing education. I remained at CUC to take a chemistry course and worked at the dorm.  I applied to Loma Linda University and arrived there only to learn I was not accepted into the Nursing program.  With counsel from my mom, I agreed to come home, work, and apply to Branson School of Nursing in Toronto.  I did and completed the first year; however my grades did not meet the mark and I was out.  At the time, all small nursing programs were closing (government requirement). Again I found myself in a dilemma as to what to do next.  With my mindset solid about Nursing, I remained in Toronto and enrolled in Seneca College. I completed my nursing diploma in 1976.  YEH!!

I worked in a doctor’s office (not for me as it was too slow and unchallenging), then hired back at Branson in the Emergency Room (ER).  Moved around to other hospitals – Humber Memorial, Mount Sinai, and settled on joining a Nursing Registry so I could get the varied clinical experience I wanted.  I ended up working mostly at Sunnybrook Hospital in all areas except the Operating Room and maternity.  This clearly fed my need for change and variety and experience!  I was not quite settled and wanted to try becoming a paramedic.  With no courses in Toronto at that time and access to this education in Alberta, I returned to Alberta in 1981. That did not pan out, so I worked at the University of Alberta (U of A).  Still unsettled, I took a job up north in Lac La Biche working in ER and peds.  While there I stayed with a couple who showered me with a love and acceptance that I did not receive growing up with 4 brothers.

While there, I learned about occupational health nursing that would change the course of my life.  There was a certificate course in Edmonton at Grant MacEwan Community College that could done part time or full time.  I did a combo of full and part time and graduated in 1986.  I was hired at the U of A in the Occupational Health and Safety Department…I had found my calling and felt grateful!   Went to McMaster in 1988 for further Occupational Health and Safety education and then returned to Edmonton to work at the Royal Alex Hospital, WCB, and U of A.  By now, being near the water was pulling at my heart and wanting to settle, I followed my dream to move to the west coast opposed to the east coast and…..the rest is history!!  In 1993 I was hired by the hospital in Nanaimo to start managing WCB claims and return injured and sick employees back to work.  As health care changed with regionalization, so did my role. I stayed bouncing along with the ever evolving changes to and in health care along with tons of learning both professional and personal. I finally retired in March 2016.

My family: While living in BC, I met James Gray who was taking a personal development course.  We married in October 1999.  We have no children but 3 fur babies.  I kept my maiden name….somehow Gray did not fit me and frankly I like the “Townsend” name and women were keeping their maiden names for various reasons.

Retirement has been about house renovations and since April 2017, with my husband’s heart attack, it is about redefining life day by day!  At the end of the day, we are given moments that turn into hours, etc…..make the most of them!!

My Mom turned 90 this year……still looking good and enjoying life on her terms!

Change I wish to see in the world: The real change longed for will only happen when the Good Lord returns. Meantime know where to focus and what is important–staying strong and never loosing faith in the One that created us!

My life motto: When I am part of the solution, I am not part of the problem!!

Where I turn for inspiration: Friends, family, Bible, religious programs, nature, exercise, art, dogs

Most interesting place I have traveled to since high school: Bermuda shortly after high school; most recent Costa Rica

Traits I admire most in a person: Honesty, curiosity, boldness, ownership

Best advice a teacher gave me in high school: Learn to focus while in class! I came to understand about myself I am easily distracted…my free spirit loves abstract art!

Favorite CUC memory: Playing the organ with Clayton Akima on the piano for Sabbath School in the admin bldg….I forget the name of that big room! Singing in the choir with Carl Wesman. Saturday night marches. Practicing with Sharon Ford the big church organ. Cooking wieners – beef ones on my iron!! The Beauvallon gals know about this!

The books on my bedside table are: Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs; Jesus, the Man who Loved Women by Bruce Marchiano; God Wants You Well by Andrew Wommack; several by Joyce Meyer

Song that most reminds me of our senior year: Sorry…..none that come to mind.

I can never have too many: Shoes…paper…pens…stuff for art…magazines/articles of inspiration…

Biggest surprise about life: I thrive on work and responsibility but stayed away from management positions; marriage is tougher than I expected.

Risk worth taking: Getting married! Changing jobs! Travelling to new places! Saying goodbye to stuff that no longer works for you!

Rule to break: Be totally OK on changing your mind no matter how the change may alter the relationship! Sometimes the yes needs to become a no and the no needs to become a yes! Take the risk and be truthful!

My next big project: Embark on doing more art!

Classmate I wish to honor: All the Beauvallon classmates!

Advice I would give to a graduating senior: Never give up no matter how dark things are as this too shall pass!

End note: Thank you, Janice, for your dedication and commitment to the Class of ‘69!  It was/is a pleasure to look down memory lane and share my story and read other stories shared!  Unfortunately I will not be able to attend the 50th reunion in person but I will be there in spirit to share in the hugs, the laughs, the reminiscing, the connection.  Much love to all!