Saturday, May 25, 2024
May 25, 2024


 Major Keith Donovan Lavender, a decorated military officer and a beloved member of the Salt Spring Island community, passed away peacefully on April 3, 2024, at the age of 93 at the Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. 

Born January 20, 1931, in Broderick, Saskatchewan, Keith was the third eldest of seven sons of Lucille and Donovan Lavender. He spent his formative years on the family farm in Saskatchewan during the Great Depression, where he cultivated a strong work ethic and a deep sense of duty. When his family moved to their farm in Lashburn in 1945, he and his brother Dean travelled by boxcar with the horses, a couple of cows and furniture while the rest of the family drove to the new home in a 1929 Graham Paige car.

Keith’s life was marked by his unwavering dedication to his family and his country. He joined the Canadian army in 1951 and served with honour and bravery until 1977. He saw action as an artillery spotter pilot in the Korean War with the 81st Field Regiment. He later served in various postings throughout Canada, along with West Germany and England. Notably, he served as Officer Commanding 1 AirOp Troop at Camp Gagetown, New Brunswick Commanding Officer 1 Artillery Regiment Training Headquarters at Camp Shilo Manitoba, and Commanding Officer 427 Tactical Helicopter Squadron at CFB Petawawa. In 1976 he was transferred to NDHQ, Ottawa, in the Directorate of Operations and Training, with responsibility for support for civilian agencies such as Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, flood control, royal visits and other activities. In this role, he was honoured to assist Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family on several royal tours to Canada. Following his retirement from the regular forces in 1977, he was called out for full time reserve services with Militia Area, Prairie Regional Headquarters, Winnipeg, Man.

In addition to his distinguished military career, Keith was a devoted husband and father. He nursed his first wife, Theresa, through a long illness until her passing in 1970, all while caring for their four children and fulfilling his duties as an officer in the armed forces. Later, he found love again with his beloved wife, Patricia, also a serving military officer, with whom he shared 52 happily married years, first in Petawawa, then later in Ottawa, Winnipeg and on Salt Spring Island.

Retiring to Salt Spring Island 40 years ago, Keith became an integral part of the community. He was actively involved in various organizations, including the Salt Spring Island Golf Club, the Royal Canadian Legion, and Meals on Wheels. He was generous of his time, often taking more elderly community members to medical and dental appointments both on the island and to Victoria. His warmth, generosity and sense of humour endeared him to all who knew him. 

Keith Lavender had a passion for life, enjoying activities such as gardening, golfing, curling, playing bridge and poker, woodworking, reading, and cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He was proud of his accomplishments on the golf course, including two holes-in-one and victories in several tournaments for left-handed golfers. 

Keith will be deeply missed by his beloved wife, Patricia, his sons, David and Terry (Sharon) , and his grandsons, Michael and Daniel. He will also be missed by his brothers, Dennis (Helen) and Lyle (Mary, deceased) and his brother- and sister-in-law, Patrick and Cathy, and their daughters Heather and Erin; as well as many nieces and nephews, friends and acquaintances. He was preceded in death by his son Dennis and daughter Joanne, as well as his brothers Dean (Mary), Hugh (Helen, deceased), Ralph (Ilene) and Wes (Dorothy).

Keith’s memory will be cherished by all who were fortunate enough to know him. His legacy of courage, compassion, and kindness will live on in the hearts of those whose lives he touched.

There will be a private celebration of life at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, the Kidney Foundation, or the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


  1. Pat I was so sorry to hear of Keith’s passing. He and my best friend Cherri went the same day. Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you and the family. I live in Tsawwassen now. All the best Barnie


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