Derek Francis Braddle left us on 31 March 2020 after a brief battle with cancer. He died gently at home with his wife Valerie Hanson at his bedside. Also left to mourn are Derek’s first wife Patricia Braddle of Victoria, and sister Wendy Phillips and her children Jackie, Tony, Derek and David and their families, and cousins in the UK.
Derek started life in London, England in February 1940 and lived his early years in the midst of falling bombs, with older brother Michael, younger sister Wendy and their lovely mum Audrey and gentle dad Richard. 1950s London’s swinging jazz culture, with coffee houses full of American jazz greats, started Derek on his life-long love of that music.
Looking for adventure, Derek sailed to Canada in the late 1950s and enjoyed the vibrant jazz scene in Montreal for a few years, starting his career as a design draftsman in engineering. Playing rugby was another passion that began in Montreal, from which he made many life-long friends. In the late 1960s he and his wife Patricia drove across country to Vancouver and soon started building a beautiful west-coast home on Bowen Island on a rocky outcrop overlooking a little bay. There Derek had some of his best years, kayaking with orca, fishing for salmon, and enjoying the eagles and flocks of seabirds.
In his mid-40s, Derek escaped from engineering offices and fulfilled a long-suppressed dream by enrolling in the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, where he focused on 3-dimensional studies. After moving to Victoria in the early 1990s with his wife Valerie, Derek made his living creating and selling whimsical and gently abstracted sculpture.
Derek became a faculty member of the Victoria College of Art and developed their 3-dimensional program, but he especially loved teaching the Young Artists Program in the summer, encouraging the creativity and potential he saw in those kids. He later organized an Odd Fridays drop-in sculpture group at Xchanges Gallery so that anyone could learn to sculpt the human body.
After being diagnosed in his 50s with Attention Deficit Disorder, Derek co-founded the Island Adult Development Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and advising adults who are affected by ADD, offering counseling and advocacy to that population.
Derek lived the last years of his life in his cottage in Saanich, building himself a studio in the backyard where he continued creating things both practical and beautiful.
Derek was one of those rare people who are happy, and able to truly live in the moment. He was gleeful and playful, without guile or pretense, kind, cheeky, and partial to giving crushing bear hugs. Those of us who love him will love him forever.
We will celebrate Derek’s life when we are able to gather once again.
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