Mr. Alexander, as he was known to countless Chemainus Secondary School students over the years, was a well-respected educator.
Dave Alexander died last Sunday, Jan. 20, just two weeks after turning 90 years old.
Alexander was born in Vancouver and raised in Ladysmith. He earned his teaching certificate at UBC and his master’s degree from UVic. He spent all his teaching career as a teacher/counsellor/vice principal at Chemainus Secondary, other than two years when he served as principal during the inception of Cedar Junior High School before returning to Chemainus.
Alexander and wife Nonie were married in 1951 and settled in Saltair where he resided for 52 years. He retired in 1985 after 35 years in teaching.
Nonie died in 1999 and Alexander went to live at the Nanaimo Seniors Village in January of 2017.
He is survived by daughters Norene (Brian) Hawkins, Jody (Jerry) Berry, and daughter-in-law Sue, eight grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and his best friend Norah Creelman. Son Dan died in 2012.
Alexander’s daughters said it was different having their dad in the same school as a teacher.
Although Norene, now 65, never had him as a class teacher, “it had its challenges,” she said. “He was the disciplinarian being the vice principal at that point in time.
“There were issues if I didn’t do well in school.”
Alexander demanded a lot but also brought out the best in students, including his own kids.
“I don’t think it bothered me to have my father in the school,” recalled Jody, now 62, who had him as her Math 11 teacher.
Family life was memorable for both.
“We had extra-curricular activities, he was always there for them and making sure we got to them,” said Norene. “As a dad, he was a great dad and we had a very tight-knit family.”
“As far as being a dad as opposed to being a vice principal, he was a strict parent, but he was always very fair,” added Jody.
Alexander’s precise voice from his teaching background lent itself perfectly to announcing and he volunteered willingly for skating carnivals during Jody’s figure skating days.
The daughters are glad he made it to his 90th birthday and they enjoyed a great family celebration.
“He hadn’t mentioned to me he was feeling unwell,” noted Norene. “You always have in the back of your mind you hope he makes it to this date.”
Both admit they inherited certain traits from their father.
Jody considers herself to have obsessive compulsive disorder in certain mannerisms and “I would describe my father as being the same way,” she indicated.
“I’m probably more reserved which I get from my father and I am partially OCD,” Norene pointed out. “I wasn’t quite as OCD as dad was.
“Dad loved to record everything he did in his life. Every night the last thing he would do is check the temperature and record it and check the rainfall and record it.”
Helen Stephen’s dad Cedric Lonsdale worked alongside Alexander at the school for many years so she knew him well.
“So many people in this town either had him as a teacher, dealt with him in the book room or were sent to him as the vice principal,” Stephen noted. “He was so active in many aspects of school life and continued in the community after his retirement.”
Alexander also made a point of attending numerous school reunions and the students appreciated seeing him.
“We invited teachers to our 10th, 20th, 40th and just Dave to the 50th,” Stephen indicated. “He came to all four of those. He always showed such an interest in past students and was one of those people who remembered names and things about you from your high school days. When I was a teen he ran the Anglican Young Peoples Association at St. Michael’s Church and so we got to know him in a different way because of that.”
Alexander also attended a reunion in 2010 for grads from 1960-1969 and enjoyed a wonderful evening with the Class of ’67 at its 50-year reunion in 2017.
His daughters have been comforted by the numerous responses they’ve received from former colleagues and students since his death.
“They have been lovely messages and not a person has an unkind thing to say about my father,” said Jody.
A celebration of Alexander’s life will be held on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Ladysmith Eagles Hall, 921 First Ave., at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, it was his wish that donations be made to a charity of choice.