Peggy Louise Olive

Peggy Louise Olive died on December 10th in Victoria, B.C., after being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. Born in Montreal in 1948, Peggy became a radiation biologist after fretting during her teen years about the cold war and what she saw as inevitable nuclear annihilation. Her training instead led to a career of trying to improve the ability of radiation to treat cancer.

She met her husband, Ralph Durand, at graduate school, and they worked together in the U.S.A. and Canada for over forty years. A teacher and mentor to many talented scientists, she was a perpetual student herself. She received several awards for her research and was elected President of the International Association for Radiation Research.

Once retired from the BC Cancer Agency she volunteered with the Suzuki Elders, having come to believe that she needn’t have worried about people being annihilated by hydrogen bombs or cancer because they had already exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet and were well on their way to depleting every critical resource, thus ensuring their own demise.

Recently, she lived for five years on magical Salt Spring Island where she volunteered, gardened, and self-published two novels, one of which was short-listed for the 2015 Cedric Literary Awards. She is survived by her loving, patient and supportive husband, Ralph Durand, by her older sister, Carolyn Olive and younger brother, Ken Olive who herded her through childhood and sustained and amused her throughout her life, and two beautiful and wise nieces, Erin and Kelly Hanna.

There will be no service by request; donations to the Canadian Cancer Society.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Rosalind Kellett :

    It is a sad day for now to hear the news of Peggy’s death. She, of course, in her forthright way, had warned us Suzuki Elders (SE) that the cancer she had was aggressive and non-treatable. And she did not want any long dreary phone calls from us, but email messages were fine! I worked with her briefly on updating some posters for the SE but found my own life busy with some traumatic events and I regret that we were not able to finish that poster to satisfy both our approval during her lifetime. But Peggy will always remain an inspiration to me as she was a practicing scientist, not prone to sentimentality, but a strong believer in supporting the cause of Environmental Education and Justice and the work of SE. May she rest in Peace.

  2. Ralph especially, and Caroline, Ken, Kelly and Erin – you know that Peggy was a wonderful person and I hope that knowledge sustains you now and in the future. We in the Suzuki Elders loved her to bits, and appreciated her inquiring mind and good nature. Her hand/words/thoughts/picture appear in many places in our files and we consider ourselves so fortunate to have had her in our midst for the past decade. All of you have had her in your lives for much much longer and the loss will feel profound. So there can be no words to comfort really, but perhaps the knowledge that she left her mark in so many places – that she made a difference in the world – can be a comfort of sorts. Best thoughts being sent out to you all.

  3. Ralph. I just heard about Peggy’s demise. She was a truly lovely, generous and thoughtful life and research mentor to many. Please accept my find best wishes and memories of she and you. Ivo

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