Debbie Blackie, Passionate Archives Volunteer
by Barrie Moen
An unexpected shadow was cast over the Vic High Archives on August 27, 2019 with the sudden passing of Archives volunteer Debbie Blackie (nee Parkinson, VHS 1967). A passionate contributor to the growth of the Archives in the past ten years, she was always encouraging volunteers, guests, and donors alike, and visiting the Archives was always a pleasure.
Debbie loved to research any subject associated with Vic High. However, her unique skills were showcased when she and her friend Linda Smith began creating hallway displays featuring historic and contemporary photos, images and articles of clothing from school clubs and teams. Their artefact shadow-box displays, featured in a variety of areas in the school, were of museum quality, and because of a limited budget, the expense was often covered from their own pockets.
Debbie also developed the idea of a page on the Vic High Alumni website (www.vichigh.com) called “Tales from the Attic,” to publish intriguing articles offering further insight into the history of the school.
A skilled negotiator, Debbie approached me offering the opportunity to write some articles for the new website feature.
“What does it pay?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she replied.
“Well, if you can double that, I might be interested,” I countered.
“I believe I can convince the Alumni Association to find those funds,” she surmised, and an unusual literary friendship blossomed.
At her memorial service, it became obvious that Debbie was well loved by her associates during her 35 years within the Greater Victoria hospital system. As one speaker mentioned, Debbie was a private person who treated her various groups of friends with empathy and respect. However, the speaker noted, in order to avoid any conflicts she never allowed any cross-pollination of these groups, so the speaker was overjoyed at the large, diverse crowd gathered to honour Debbie’s life.
Anne Boldt (VHS 1967) and Kathleen McDonald (VHS 1973), with the assistance of Alumni Board member Anne McKeachie (VHS 1968), will now take on the duties of accessioning and organizing the VHS Archives for temporary storage during the seismic upgrading of the school. Setting up the new Vic High Archives and Museum will be much anticipated, with the school’s commitment to expanding the space for these precious articles and to ensuring easy public accessibility.
We know the new Vic High Archives and Museum area will reflect Debbie’s diligent spirit, best summed up in her usual Tuesday morning greeting in the Archives: “Oh, there you are. What have you been up to? I have something for you to do.”
Barrie Moen (VHS 1969) is also a dedicated Archives volunteer.
You can find a link to Deb’s newspaper obit under the News tab (In Memoriam – Grads and Supporters).