THOMAS, Vivian Martha (nee McGuire, Daly)
Born October 23, 1931 – Died October 10, 2016
Vivian Thomas passed away on Monday, October 10, 2016 at Michael Garron Hospital, from the effects of a debilitating stroke. She was 84.
Vivian McGuire was the fifth child in a family of ten children (William, Helen, Doris, Hazel, Vivian, George, Donald, Bruce, Larry and Elaine). Her parents were George and Barbara (Zavitz) McGuire. She grew up on a farm in the Dawn Township, near Oil Springs and Chatham.
Vivian, an exceptional student, graduated Petrolia District High School at age 16. After short stints as a teacher and receptionist, she found out the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was recruiting women and joined seeking adventure. She became a radar officer and earned a private pilot’s license. For two years in a row, she had the highest aptitude test scores in the RCAF. She hitchhiked across Canada with her girlfriends. When her radar group was transferred to Foymount near Eganville, she became the crew chief.
She met Keevil Daly, a world-class weightlifting athlete in the RCAF. She was white and he was black. Despite the racism of the times, they married at the Downsview RCAF on July 23, 1955. Keevil was posted to West Germany near a NATO base near Baden-Baden September 1955. They travelled throughout Europe and had their first child, Janis, in 1957.
They left Germany and returned to Canada. Their second child, Dawn, was born in Shelburne in 1959 and they moved to Ottawa. Eventually in 1961 they moved to the U.S. to Brooklyn, New York. The sixties in Brooklyn was an exciting time in the civil rights movement. Vivian heard Martin Luther King Jr. speak at a church and joined the Unitarian faith.
In 1969, Vivian returned to Mississauga, Ontario, Canada with her two daughters, selling Yellow Pages and later as a secretary and driving instructor. She went to Ryerson Polytechnical and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism in 1977. Though she divorced Keevil Daly in 1976, fifteen years later they renewed a close friendship until his death in 2011.
In 1976, Vivian met Charles ‘Tom’ Thomas. They married on July 26, 1980 and moved to the San Diego, California. Vivian worked in Admissions in San Diego State University and later, Grossmont College. In June 1986, Tom was killed in an car accident. Now widowed, in 1987 Vivian moved back to Chatham, Ontario, Canada to be closer to her parents. When her mother passed away in 1990, Vivian moved to Toronto to be closer to her two daughters, Janis and Dawn. Her granddaughter Sheerah, was born in 1994 to Dawn. Vivian and her ‘girls’ remained very close.
Vivian found out in 2009 that she had Alzheimer’s. She lived independently until 2012 and then lived with her daughters until 2014. She moved to a nursing home as her condition worsened. She was an avid reader, enjoyed doing puzzles and never turned down a piece of pie. She was always with a smile and a positive, gentle demeanor.
Vivian is survived by daughters Janis and Dawn, granddaughter Sheerah; siblings Elaine, Larry, Bruce, Donald, George, Hazel and Doris; her many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
A Memorial Service will be held November 6, 2016 at 2 p.m. for Vivian Thomas at:
Don Heights Unitarian Congregation, 18 Wynford Drive, Units 102-103
Toronto, Ontario M3C 3S2 (one block north of Eglinton; one block east of Don Mills Road)
See www.donheights.ca for directions.
Donations in Vivian Thomas’s name can be sent to USC Canada and Heart & Stroke Foundation (http://usc-canada.org/ or http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483933/ for more information).
Thank you to Harmony Hills, Vivian’s final home for the last three years and the Micheal Garron Hospital for their humane palliative care of Vivian.
We miss you so much that words cannot convey the depth of it. We love you now and forever.