JAMES DENNIS WILSON
June 25, 1945 – March 24, 2021
James Dennis Wilson, 75, passed away peacefully at home on Bowen Island, British Columbia, after a long battle with Prostate Cancer. Predeceased by his parents Lena Bessie Parsons of Change Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador and James Rowland Wilson of Philadelphia, PA
Dennis was born in Long Beach, CA, lived his pre-school years in Florida and was raised in Houston, TX.
He was trained as an Architect (BArch. Honours. University of Texas at Austin) and as a city planner/urban designer (Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania). While in Philadelphia he worked for Wallace, McHarg, Roberts and Todd as he completed his studies. The City of Toronto: Waterfront Planning Group, as the Housing Planner was his next destination. He met Bonnie on that team, and they married in 1978. He was recruited by the City of Calgary, for the position of Downtown Development Officer in 1979, followed by years with the Chandler Kennedy Architectural Group. He was subsequently headhunted to the City of Dallas to be their City Planner. Until he formed his own firm in 1986 as Townscape Planning Inc.
Dennis focused his career on the creation of public places and communities of enduring value, winning numerous awards from local and national professional and civic associations for major planning and urban design projects in both the U.S. and Canada. Throughout his career he focused on supporting both graduate and undergraduate courses in architecture, city planning and urban design for the University of Toronto and special graduate level Architectural Studio on Transit Oriented Development at University of Texas at Arlington.
Dennis was a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP), a member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (MRAIC) and was a founder and director of the Congress for New Urbanism, North Texas Chapter.
Retiring in 2012, he was ever thankful that he was so lucky to arrive in Paradise.
On Bowen, Dennis had an easy transition to retirement thanks to the inhabitants of this special island. Notably his appointment to the Advisory Planning Commission, with its challenging Subcommittee work, and his subsequent selection by the Mayor to his Standing Committee on Community Lands. Each gave him an outlet in which to contribute and to carry on his love of planning.
He was a proud founding member of the Bowen Island Men’s Single Malt Scotch Research Society. (You know how special you are boys!) He often gave thanks to the Bowen Island Garden Club, for its energetic members who renewed his interest in gardening. Once again full of plans and ideas to pursue. He also found joy in working through his tool-belt projects. The Adams Road property gave him all he wanted in that department, always a new talented tradesperson to meet and with whom to talk tools and help revise his project list.
Dennis brought his love of nature into his professional work but, took greater joy in exploring its span. From Bowen Island to Gros Morne and its diverse majesty, from Telluride to Terlingua and the Gold Coast of OZ to ballooning over Cappadocia he preferred the tent over the hotel and the margarita over the Bordeaux. It was not a solitary pursuit but one he loved to share with Bonnie and friends who were willing to travel the road and trail with him.
Dennis is survived by Bonnie Jean Miller Wilson, his wife of 43 years: his sister Sheri Mitchell (Gary) of Dallas, Texas, nephews Cody Mitchell (Krista) and Grant Mitchell (Amanda) of Houston, Texas and his brother-in-law Paul Miller and nephew Liam Miller of London, Ontario. Dear cousins Kathleen Parsons and Agnes Mae Slade (Gordon) of St. John’s, Newfoundland and numerous cousins from the Miller and Hamilton Clans in Ontario.
Deepest thanks to Dr. Andrew Sear of Docs on the Bay and Jane Henley of Coastal Health North Shore Home Care and Support and her team for their complete attentiveness, they have gone above and beyond what anyone could wish for. Always a step ahead of us and coaching us up this steep trail. We are also so thankful for the compassionate and comprehensive care of the staff at Lions Gate Hospital and the BC Cancer Agency. Absolutely world class care by all. We also want to acknowledge the professionalism of the Medical Assistance in Dying team. They are an incredibly unique and empathetic group of individuals, enabling a loved one full autonomy to life’s end.
Later this week or early next an announcement/obituary will be posted through Squamish Funeral Chapel and Crematorium. To sign the book of condolences, please go to squamishfuneralchapel.com Yes, he chose the dust-to-dust plan. Very Texan, eh?
Everyone has been so kind. If you wish to donate a memorial in Dennis’ name, please consider Bowen Island Health Center Foundation; Lions Gate Hospital Foundation perhaps supporting the Palliative & Hospice Programs or a Charity of your choice.