November 8, 2018
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the death of Heather Witzel on November 8. Heather died in her home, surrounded by her loving family. She is survived by siblings Frances, Rose (Corky), Fred (Haidee), Dave, Allan (Fran), Bruce (Francis) and many nieces and nephews.
Heather grew up in the Comox Valley, and graduated from Courtenay High School. She attended UVic before transferring to U of S where she earned her BSci(PE), BEd and MSci(PE). Heather excelled in basketball and was U of S female athlete of the year in 1973. In 1979 she was inducted into the U of S “Athletic Wall of Fame”. As a player on the Woman’s National Basketball team from 1969 to 1974 she represented Canada on tours to many different countries. She spent 29 years in the Saskatoon Catholic School System, as a PE teacher and Counselor. Her passion was coaching basketball; her words were, “I had the honor of working with wonderful kids, families and teachers”. She coached the Sask. Women’s Basketball Team to a gold medal at the Western Canada Games in 1979, and also began the Saskatoon Senior Women’s League, which she managed for 10 years. In 2004, she retired to the Island, settling in Nanaimo. She took up golf again, and could regularly be seen at Winchelsea along with her sister Rose, and a close-knit group of friends.
Heather enjoyed watching football, particularly when cheering for”her team”,the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Bridge was a part of the Witzel DNA and when her siblings were together, the bridge table came out. Animals held a big part of her heart and over the years she shared her home with many feline companions. Heather will be remembered for her indomitable spirit, as well as her thoughtfulness, kindness, loyalty, and loving spirit.
The family would like to acknowledge longtime prairie friends; Linda/Dave Hardy, Shelley Fernquist, Sheila/Tom Chad, Dorothy/Dennis Keene, Barb/Wayne Wilson, as well as cousin Jackie Mehler. Thanks to the many friends who supported us in Heather’s past few months, and in particular to Lynda McCormick. Thanks also to the VIHA Palliative Nurses and Home Support, NRGH Palliative Care Unit and the Woodgrove Save On Food Pharmacy Team for ensuring that Heather was cared for and comfortable in her final journey. A very special thank you to Dr. Kristy Williams, who attended to Heather with great care and compassion throughout her illness.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Saskatoon Catholic School Foundation, your local SPCA, or the Nanaimo (NRGH) Palliative Care Unit. A Celebration of Heather’s Life will be held on Sat. Dec 8th 2 pm at the Nanaimo Hornets Rugby Club.