Feb. 9, 2022

In Memoriam: Brenda Simmons, Biogeoscience Institute

Memorial garden to be planted in the spring
BGI group photo
From left: Barb Southee, Yves Levesque, Sue Arlidge, Cindy Payne, Adrienne Cunnings, Judy Buchanan-Mappin, Brenda Simmons. Adrienne Cunnings

The stars over Mount Baldy have a different twinkle. It is with heavy hearts that the staff at the Biogeoscience Institute share the news that beloved friend and colleague Brenda Simmons passed away on Jan. 26, 2022.

If you’ve been a visitor to the Barrier Lake Field Station in the past 13 years, you’ve probably met Brenda and you’ve definitely benefited from her hard work and care. Beginning work with the University of Calgary in 2008, Brenda’s official title was Housekeeper — but those who knew and worked with her know that she was the centre of our unit.

Born in Saskatchewan, she moved to the mountains to work at Saskatchewan Crossing in the early 1990s and never left. She worked at the Delta Lodge in Kananaskis from 2004 to 2008, after which she began working and living at the field station.  

At her quiet home in the mountains, she cherished the beauty and chance encounters with wildlife. Occasionally she’d rush to work with a picture of the lynx or bear she was lucky enough to witness out her window. She was fearless living alone in the woods and in her free time she loved watching and attending curling events, connecting with her family and friends and of course her dogs, Pal (yes, she had more than one). 

Brenda, an unassuming leader and organizer, was a friend to all. Simply put, she just tried to do the best she could. Even when things were tough, she didn’t complain. She was always happy to help, whether it was in her job description or not, and was a fountain of knowledge of everything at the station from which guests were staying where, to which animals had visited recently. Brenda was truly an essential part of keeping the station running smoothly, ensuring the comfort and safety of all visitors, and bringing joy to those around her with her easy-going nature. 

If you’re thinking of her and you’d like to do something in her memory, do something she’d love — make someone smile, pat a dog, feed a bird, listen to your friends, cheer for Saskatchewan in curling, go for a walk in the woods, or treasure the small wonders in each day.  

Brenda will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. To the staff at the field station, she was family, united as a team and dedicated to the university’s mission of excellence. A memorial garden will be planted at the field station in her honour this spring.