Reverend Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles directs the Maple Ridge Choral Society during a concert. Contributed

Reverend Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles directs the Maple Ridge Choral Society during a concert. Contributed

Beloved Maple Ridge choral director passes away

Reverend Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, director of the Maple Ride Choral Society, passed away Aug. 1.

Reverend Andrew Wilhelm-Boyles, director of the Maple Ridge Choral Society, has passed away at the age of 74.

Wilhelm-Boyles was the music director of the society for more than 11 years.

He passed away on August 1 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

President Isabelle Wegener said he will be very missed.

“Everybody respected him. He was strict and he had high standards. He was very compassionate about the ills of the world,” said Wegener adding that he was also very passionate about music, witty and had a very dry sense of humour and would make everyone laugh with his little quips during choir practises.

“He was a very emotional man. Music could make him cry. He took things very seriously,” Wegener said, especially if the choir had a good performance.

“If he was proud of us he was emotional and he wasn’t afraid of that,” she said.

Wilhelm-Boyles was born in Belfast and first came to Canada as a teenager because of his father’s work with Beldam’s Asbestos Engineering Company.

His family returned to Ireland a few years later but Wilhelm-Boyles returned to Canada to start his career as a teacher.

He taught English and drama in Newfoundland before being hired by the CBC and moving to Churchill, Manitoba to manage a CBC station. He hosted national music programs from Winnipeg and Toronto and worked as a manager at CBC’s Northern Service.

Wilhelm-Boyles also founded and managed the Yukon Arts Centre and went on to positions with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Winnipeg Arts Council, the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Creative City Network of Canada.

He was the director of the Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture and in 2009 was named the interim director of Ballet B.C..

Wilhelm-Boyles was also an Anglican Deacon and his religion and spiritual life were very important to him.

He was ordained by Bishop Michael Ingham on Dec. 7, 2008 and appointed Deacon at St. Agnes, North Vancouver where he served until 2012.

In the Ministry Wilhelm-Boyles was the first to take on the role of Chair of the North Vancouver Regional Council, he was Honorary deacon at St. Catherine’s, Capilano from 2012 to 2016 and he was also a mentor for the North Vancouver Education for Ministry and a Diocesan Education for Ministry co-coordinator until the time he entered hospice.

When he died he held the Bishop’s license for ministry at Christ Church Cathedral where he was coordinator of the Compline service.

One of his greatest passions was conducting and choral music.

Twenty five years ago he founded the Whitehorse Community Choir and in 2006 became the director of the Maple Ridge Choral Society.

Nineteen months ago Wilhelm-Boyles was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer that is thought to be the result of being exposed to asbestos as a child.

“He had hope that there would be a treatment for him,” said Wegener.

“He tried chemo. He was still planning on doing our Christmas concert this year,” she said.

But Wilhelm-Boyles stopped his chemotherapy.

“It wasn’t working for him and it was making him feel ill. He just wanted quality time with his family,” Wegener said adding that he was very brave.

He was expected to perform with the Choral Society at the Spring concert but he had a bad fall and cracked some ribs.

His last concert was at Christmas last year.

Wilhelm-Boyles final thoughts about his life were written in a poem before he died.

“I have heard the bagpipes weep my soul/I have felt the kiss of a newborn butterfly/I have loved…and been loved/It is much, much more than enough/Thank you,” went the final phrase.

Aimee Oliverio, a pianist with the Maple Ridge Choral Society since 2009, will become the new conductor.

Wilhelm-Boyles was her mentor and she led the choir during his funeral.

“She is a lovely young woman and we have great confidence with her,” added Wegener.

The Celebration of Life for Wilhelm-Boyles was held on Aug. 12. It was a high Anglican service that he organized himself before he died.

This Ancient Love by Carolyn McDade was chosen specifically by Wilhelm-Boyles to be played at his funeral.

The Maple Ridge Choral Society are also planning to sing it at this years Christmas concert as well.

A concert they are dedicating to Wilhelm-Boyles.

“It’s going to be a very emotional concert. I think it’s going to be almost worse than his funeral,” said Wegener.

“His funeral was his, this is about our emotion for him.”

The Maple Ridge Choral Society’s Christmas concert will be held at 3 p.m. on Dec. 10 at Maple Ridge Christian Reformed Church.