When you live a life as extraordinary as Phyllis Capes did, it can be expected that the legacy left behind will be just as remarkable.

In a time when women were encouraged to lead domestic, dutiful roles, young Phyllis Capes and her sister Katherine were busy outdoors, romping the forests and wetlands of the Comox Valley by their father Geoffrey’s side.

The Capes, who moved to the Comox Valley in 1922, were a rather active family for their time. Geoffrey, an avid outdoorsman, encouraged his daughters to follow in his footsteps – literally. They spent most of their time outdoors, hiking and exploring local mountains like Mt. Arrowsmith as members of the Comox Valley Mountaineering Club.

photo_capes2While Katherine went on to become one of Canada’s first female archaeologists, Phyllis focused on nature conservation, habitat protection and sustaining the delicate and diverse environment of the Comox Valley. She established Seal Bay Park and campaigned to protect McDonalds Woods. As an activist, she rallied against the dredging of the Dyke flats and the discharge of raw sewage into George Straight. For her efforts, Phyllis received the Elton Anderson Award in 1978 from the Federation of B.C. Naturalists. But even more than that, Phyllis’ work lives on in the protected parks and estuaries we enjoy today in the Comox Valley.

In 1991, Phyllis willed her two-acre Hawkins Road property to St. Joseph’s Hospital. True to form, she stipulated that the natural state of the property, which features woodland and wetland, be protected and that the land never be subdivided. She also desired that the sale of the estate go to the provision of medical equipment at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Phyllis died in 1996.

Respecting her wishes, the Hawkins property was used for more than 20 years to assist locums with accommodation, and then in 2011, the hospital transferred ownership to the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation. The Foundation then collaborated with the Comox Valley Land Trust (CVLT) and signed a covenant in late 2013 to ensure that Phyllis’ wishes remain honoured for all time.

In January 2015, Phyllis’ house sold, and realtor Marc Villanueva graciously waived his commission. Proceeds from the sale were designated to the purchase of medical equipment for the hospital – a legacy that will benefit many patients and residents of the Comox Valley for many years.

“The legacy and integrity of the Phyllis Capes Estate will now live on,” explained Patti Fletcher, of St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation. “Not only have we been able to protect the natural environment of the property with this CVLT covenant, but we will be able to ensure the funds from the sale of the property support the provision of medical equipment, as desired by the late Phyllis Capes.”

This September, monies from the sale of Phyllis’ estate were used to purchase new technology, such as a new X-Ray image reader in diagnostic imaging, and a Sonosite unit, which is used in the operating room to safely administer spinal blocks and insert central lines for critically ill patients. Both pieces of equipment were vital to the hospital, and will transfer to the new Comox Valley Hospital when it opens in 2017.

Because of her generous gift and impact on the community’s health care, Phyllis’ memory and legacy will live on in the Comox Valley – her beloved home – for many years and in many people.

A legacy gift made to St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation can make a world of difference in the lives of others. Gifts of real estate or gifts left in a will help ensure that the future needs of health and care can continue to be met in our community. Other options are available for those who intend to make planned charitable giving an aspect of their estate planning.

If you are inclined to support St. Joseph’s in this fashion, there are many emerging opportunities that financial advisors, accountants and lawyers are aware of to assist you.

For more information, contact St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation:

2137 Comox Ave, Comox B.C. V9M 1P2.

Phone: (250) 890-3046