Deirdre KELLY

Obituary of Deirdre KELLY

We are so sad to have lost our beautiful and creative wife, mother, and friend Deirdre Kelly to the cruel ravages of cancer. She is survived by her husband John, daughter Emma, son Matthew, sister Maureen, brothers Paul and Michael, step-mother Allene, and a large community of well loved friends. 


After a childhood in North Vancouver, Deirdre moved to the Island where she became a tireless advocate for human rights. She co-founded the Victoria Central America Support Committee in 1980, and worked as the Coordinator of the Office of Social Justice for the Catholic Diocese for 20 years. For the past 10 years she turned her focus to art and amassed an impressive body of paintings, photography, and other work. While working at her art career, Deirdre maintained her interest and passion for social justice and became very involved in the fight to stop the destructive 'Site 'C' dam on the Peace River in Northern B.C. She traveled to the region twice and did numerous paintings and art projects on that theme. At such a time of poor health, Deirdre was very disappointed at the government decision to move ahead with the big project.


Deirdre loved nature and enjoyed travelling to new places where she could explore and take pictures with her camera or get ideas for new paintings. She was also an avid and skilled gardener and transformed the front and back yard of her Fernwood home into a vibrant, beautiful garden where friends and family would gather in the summer months for barbecues, or sitting outside on warm starry nights. She displayed this love of nature with friends through her photography and painting, and shared on facebook for others to see. 


For 8 years Deirdre and John were homestay hosts of international students from Japan, China, Korea and other countries. Deirdre formed meaningful connections with the students, and they all grew to love and cherish their time in Victoria spent at the house. She kept in touch with many of them after they returned to their countries.When she went to Japan in 2015, she visited several former students, and Matthew who was living in Tokyo. She gained great inspiration from the serenity and peace of nature, the temples and shrines, and especially the kindness of the Japanese people, even staying in a Buddhist Shrine with the family of a past student. Deirdre joined the Victoria Nikkei Friendship Society, and started learning Japanese to practice with friends. She was hoping to take her 'Tsukiji Fish Market' series of paintings to Japan to promote understanding and also commemorate the internment of Japanese Canadians on B.C.'s coast during the second wold war.


Deirdre was a person who enjoyed immensely meeting and getting to know people. She made many lifelong friends from before and after moving into the Mitraniketan Coop where she lived with her family for 14 years. The coop acted as a safe and nurturing community where Deirdre and John’s kids were raised. Deirdre became an active artist from early 2008, and made some great new friends and contacts for her art career both while studying at the Victoria College of Art, showing with the Gage Gallery where she was a member for 3 years, and participating in the Fernwood Art Stroll  with fellow members who she got to know over the past 10 years.  


The change in the early 90's of the adoption registry from passive to active led Deirdre to reunite with her birth family. This began an amazing journey of discovery of Acadian and Algonquin roots, to getting to know and love all her new cousins, aunts and uncles, many of whom lived near by on the island, lower mainland and northern B.C. The close connections continued to grow, especially with her brother Paul from Oregon and her Uncle Paul and Aunt Teresa locally, but also with her cousins Lynne, Claire, Rick, Lisa, Roy, and Dale who all came to visit her in the recent months during her poor health. Deirdre was always proud of the family that she grew up in, but also felt blessed and happy to be part of such a dynamic clan as the Surrettes.


With so much still left to do, Deirdre was forced to leave her earthly life too soon. We know that she would be happy to pass the torch of her kindness to others and passion for life to her family, friends, and community, but right now our lives without her will be so much less joyful.


To continue the legacy of her artwork, Deirdre’s family will be maintaining a website where they can continue to sell Paintings, Drawings and other pieces of art done during her art career. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of any of Deirdre's work will go towards projects that she worked for and believed in during her lifetime. For more info please visit <>.