John Tuckwell

August 16, 2016 17 Condolences Print Obituary

It is with very heavy hearts that the family of John Tuckwell pass along the news that our son and brother John died on July 27, 2016.

Born in Edmonton on July 15, 1962, to Lynda and Paul Tuckwell, John was immediately introduced to dogs, with travelling, skiing, and camping following shortly thereafter with family excursions through Western Canada, to Loon Lake just outside Thunder Bay and the odd trip to Hawaii.  When not away on summer vacation, John was at the Royal Glenora Club either horsing around or in the pool, with the latter leading to his first gainful employment.  As a lifeguard, he worked for the City of Edmonton, the Royal Glenora and Miette Hot Springs near Jasper where he spent a few wonderful summers entrenched in the mountains, launching his love for hiking in the back country.

While attending the University of Alberta and after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, John began travelling sans famille in earnest, starting with a wander around Europe with his oldest friend and followed by a driving / camping trip from London to Johannesburg; over two years away travelling through Hong Kong, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, PNG, Australia and New Zealand.  After that excursion, he returned to Edmonton and began the search for a career and employment!  First stop was the Edmonton Art Gallery where John developed his interest in Communications.  With experience gained there, John accepted his first position with the Government of Alberta as a Communications Officer for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development in 1997. Apart from a detour into the private sector from 2005 to 2007, John was with the GoA until his death. He worked in numerous ministries over the course of his career, including Infrastructure, Health, Children’s Services, Treasury Board and Enterprise, and Culture. In the latter four he held the position of Director of Communications. In July 2013, John transferred to the Public Affairs Bureau head office where he worked as a Senior Communications Manager until he went on medical leave in the fall of 2014.  Throughout this period, John continued to travel far and wide and rarely anywhere easy!

According to his colleagues, John always represented the Government of Alberta with integrity, grace, excellence and a healthy dose of irreverence that went against the image of the humourless civil servant. John was not just competent and conscientious; he was fun to work with. He could smile and keep calm in the most challenging situations, and he always left work, its stresses and worries, at the office. His belief in what the Alberta Public Service should stand for was always crystal clear.

After his diagnosis in November 2012, John’s last few years were spent living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS – living with, not dying from. John travelled more after his diagnosis – to Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and other points – than many people travel in a lifetime. He was active and adventurous, always making new friends and seeking life’s next blessing.

John worked with the ALS Society of Alberta to support their fundraising efforts.  He participated in the Ice Bucket Challenges in 2014 and 2015, filmed in front of the Legislature.  With the help of John’s colleagues, friends and family, John’s teams The “ProfessionALS” and the “Tuckwell Travellers” raised over $100,000 for research and resources to assist others in living with ALS.  John was also named to Alberta’s Provincial Steering Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying as a Patient and Family Representative, helping establish the protocols that would be in place to assist Albertans in their quests to end their own suffering.  John also made his own application for physician assisted death in public, to help the general public understand that the question is not academic when it is a real person making an application.

John was a good athlete with a great intellect. He loved his dog, Bruno and was known to sneak Bruno into his office after taking him to a vet appointment. To paraphrase a popular expression, he was exactly the kind of person his dog thought he was.

John is survived by Lynda, Paul, Cathy and Todd Tuckwell, his aunts and a myriad of wonderful cousins, first, first once removed, second, second once removed, and so on; and a group of friends here in Edmonton and all over the world that gave John physical, emotional and moral support throughout his life. Particularly in these last few years it was this community of family and friends that brought John the joy that helped outweigh the challenges he faced living with ALS.  Predeceased by Belle, Buff, Chamois, Tucker, Toby, Finley and Bruno, all of whom would have been waiting to greet him!  John’s family and friends would like to acknowledge and thank the teams at SE HomeCare Services, the ALS Clinic and We Care (particularly Adam and Evergiste) for their wonderful care and attention to John during his illness.

A Celebration of John’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, September 11 at the Royal Glenora Club in Edmonton. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the ALS Society of Alberta (www.alsab.ca/take-action/) would be very much appreciated.

  1. Sorry for everyone’s loss. He sounds like he was a wonderful man who loved to live.

    • Hi, Pam. Thank you so much. John was a great guy and we miss him a lot. I am heading back to Edmonton tomorrow and hoping for a great send-off for him.
      Enjoy what remains of your summer!
      Cathy

  2. True to Tuckwell form, the obituary was very well written. John wasn’t the only one in the family with the gift of the English language.

    • Thank you, Jackie. We had lots of help which made the challenge of doing him justice easier. Missing him a lot!
      Cathy

  3. Cathy – Thinking of you all over the past couple of weeks. My condolences on your loss. What a very fitting tribute.

  4. Our sympathy to all of you
    He was a great man through all of it.

  5. John was a fine, fine gentleman that I enjoyed working with at Alberta Health and Wellness….he was always there to fight the fight for the good of all!!! My heartfelt condolences go out to John’s family.

  6. John was a friend through work who could always make you laugh so hard and see the beauty in the places he traveled to through his stories and adventures. We missed him when he left Alberta Health but our loss now is much deeper. Loved having him and Bruno come visit us up in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

  7. So lovingly written, Cathy. You and your family (and above all, John) have been so often in my thoughts over the past few weeks. The only thing missing in your tribute to John was the gratitude of John’s friends to you and your parents, who were by his side, through thick and thin, helping to bless all our lives with as much “John” as possible. See you in September.

  8. Sending our love, respect and most sincere condolences.

  9. My condolences to all of you.

    I had worked with John a few years back, before he was diagnosed with ALS, and while we were both working in Health. John was a very special person indeed. He had a warm, inviting and vibrant personality and was a joy to work with. One of the things I appreciated about John was that he took a personal interest in people’s live. He was curious, interested, and interesting. He will be greatly missed.

  10. Our hearts are heavy …
    We count ourselves so very fortunate to have known John and called him our friend. Much to be admired and respected in how John chose to live his life. You will be missed John.
    Our thoughts are with you all.

    All our love
    Suzanne, Tom, Sophie and Grace

  11. Deepest condolences for the loss. John was a pleasant individual to work with.

  12. Dear Todd: Please accept my heartfelt condolences during this time of loss. You will likely remember me as one of your neighbors at the Hargate (114th St. & Jasper Ave.) back in the ’80s. I also had the good fortune to be invited to some of your fabulous dinner parties at your subsequent residence on the hillside. Please extend my sympathy to the rest of your family. Sincerely, Vic in Toronto.

  13. As John’s former colleague in Alberta Health, I am saddened that the voice of a wonderful man and communicator has been silenced. My condolences.

  14. Lynda, Paul, Cathy, and Todd,

    My deepest sympathy to you in the loss of your husband and father. My heart goes out to you. I am also one of the many colleagues who had the incredible privilege of working with him at Alberta Health and Wellness. I provided administrative support to the Assistant Deputy Minister of Community and Population Health (Margaret King), so John would often need to find her. As I managed Margaret’s calendar, he usually turned to me to see where he could find her. Margaret has since retired; I left AHW in February 2011 for the “dark side” of Alberta Health Services, but I am ever so grateful

  15. Lynda, Paul, Cathy, and Todd,

    My deepest sympathy to you in the loss of your son and brother. My heart goes out to you. May the precious memories that you shared with John comfort and sustain you in difficult days that lie ahead.

    I am also one of the many colleagues who had the incredible privilege of working with John at Alberta Health and Wellness. I provided administrative support to the Assistant Deputy Minister of Community and Population Health (Margaret King), so John would often need to find her. As I managed Margaret’s calendar, he usually turned to me to see where he could find her. Margaret has since retired; I left AHW in February 2011 for the “dark side” of Alberta Health Services, and many things have changed over the years. What will never change is my gratitude that our paths have crossed. John truly lived well while he lived, and he left a legacy behind that will impact others who are in similar circumstances. Rest in peace, John. You will be missed . . .

    Matthew 5:4 (NIV) – Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

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