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February 28, 2020 Beyond The Dash

February 2020: Our 4 Favorite Obituaries

A monthly roundup of inspirational obituaries honoring regular Joes and Janes

February 2020: Our 4 Favorite Obituaries
These life stories from February are thoughtful, and thought-provoking. (Shutterstock)

This year, Beyond the Dash is curating a monthly selection of obituaries to highlight special life stories. In no particular order, these were our favorite life stories in the month of February. 

1. Covell D. Brown

A beautiful tribute was published in the National Post on February 12, 2020, detailing the many adventures and accomplishments of Covell D. Brown. His professional successes are acknowledged up front, with a brief summary of his most distinguished posts:

"He took this gift and made a business of it. Covell was the founder and CEO of Veritas Consultants, a boutique consulting firm with large Canadian and international clients. He went on to be Chairman and CEO of WGI Heavy Minerals, then Chairman of Transworld Garnet India Pvt. Ltd. He was Director of the Harvard Business School Club of Toronto and served on its board. He was a Director of the Canadian Forces College Foundation and a Friend of the Regiment, Guild of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. In 2016, he was made a Knight of the Order of St. George for his contributions and service."

His many professional successes pale in comparison to the spirit of this unique and beloved man. The family of Covell Brown provides readers with a detailed glimpse of his life at various ages. From his adventurous youth "climb[ing] out of the farmhouse window" to his post-high school years as a "construction camp bootlegger," there is magic in the minutiae. Peppered with wise and fun-loving quotes from Covell himself, this life story paints a picture of a live well lived. 

Read Covell's inspirational life story here.

2. John W. Smith

A good teacher makes a lasting impression on many. The community response in the memorial guestbook shows that this was the case in the life and career of John W. Smith, who passed away on February 8, 2020, following "a long journey with Alzheimer's." 

His story is simple and to the point. It details his condensed biography, briefly mentioning his interest in woodworking, community involvement and love of his family. John's life's work at John Diefenbaker Secondary School is described as "a fulfilling 32 year teaching career." But it is the guestbook comments of those who knew John that tell the true story. 

Friends, family and former students flocked to the digital memorial in the days after John's death to offer condolences and share stories of a beloved community member.

One former student wrote, "Mr Smith was my biology teacher. He was one of my favourite teachers of all time. He was just so genuine and you could tell he had a true interest in the subject he was teaching." 

This sentiment was echoed by many who'd had the great fortune of having Mr. Smith as a teacher. Another student said "Mr. Smith was my Biology teacher in the 1980s. He was a kind and fair man and had an enthusiastic approach to teaching students." Remarks like this go on, painting a vibrant portrait of a life of service, education and kindness. 

Read more of John W. Smith's students' memories here.

3. Bonnie Low

Another story that was short, sweet and flooded with community support was the obituary of Bonnie Low, who passed away on February 1, 2020.

Her story is just three lines long, but still manages to capture the spirit of a remarkable person:

"On Feb. 1, 2020 our "Lady in Red" peacefully completed her life. Her beautiful energy will live on through her daughters Tracy (Richard), Carly (Paul), her life dance partner Jeff and her granddaughters Mackenzie, Madison, Brooklyn, who were all convinced they were her favourite."

Accompanying this brief summary of a life is a picture of the "Lady in Red" wearing her signature color, as well as an outpouring of comments in the memorial guestbook. These condolence messages fill in the blanks of Bonnie's life, accentuating her "friendly smile," and penchant for tap dancing and acrobatics. 

See memories and condolences from Bonnie's family and friends here.

4. Charelle Goodine

On February 11, 2020, Bangor Daily News published the inspiring life story of Charelle Goodine:

"Since birth she was faced with many physical challenges throughout her lifetime, yet in spite of them, she overcame each one with a loving spirit and a heartwarming smile, while touching many lives."

It's the story of a woman who beat all odds, facing "over fifty surgeries with the promise that each would improve her life." After a terminal diagnosis, the brave woman made the final decisions to fight no longer. Her obituary is full of gratitude for the caregivers who nursed her, and touts her graduation as her "most cherished accomplishment." 

Despite the pain she endured Charelle never lost her faith, remaining an active member of her church and her community. Hers is another obituary guestbook with an outpouring of love and support from readers who knew her. 

Read Charelle's incredible life story here.

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Monthly wrap-up

Approximately 4.5 million people die each month globally. Of those, thousands are memorialized in written tributes. Whether the family publishes in the newspaper, online, or in a more private manner, these stories make up our collective history.

Each month, Beyond the Dash features touching obituaries of regular people who lived remarkable lives. If you see a noteworthy obituary, keep us in the loop! Email us a link to the story at, and we might just feature it in our monthly spotlight.

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