Photo: A patient bay in the cardiac catheterization lab was named in honour of Jennie and John Hik in 2017.
John and Jennie met while attending North Surrey High in the 1950’s. The first thing that Jennie noticed about John? “Probably his long, lean looks. He was lanky. He was the tallest one on the class,” remembers Jennie.
During their courtship, John often rode his bike for miles to visit his sweetheart. “One time he was peddling along Serpentine Road just about a quarter-mile from our place, and there were cows in the middle of the road. It was dark. And wham, he ran right into a cow,” Jennie laughs.
In 1957, John and Jennie got married in Fleetwood Church, and later settled on a farm in Surrey owned by Jennie’s parents. They were soon blessed with three children, Shellie, Brian, and David.
While Jennie cared for the children, John established himself in what would be a successful 60-year career in construction management. With his two business partners, he grew Seaward Construction, a commercial construction company based in Surrey, into a booming business. “He was very passionate about his work. He often joked about putting up a cot in his office,” says Jennie. “I don’t think he ever would have retired.”
In October of 1990, after both Jennie and her father were treated for heart attacks at Royal Columbian, John and Jennie decided to create the Cornelius Friesen Education Fund for Cardiac Nursing Education. Jennie says, “I felt that Dad had been treated well. And so had I. I just wanted to give back.”
In addition to making financial donations to the hospital foundation, Jennie contributed her time with the Royal Columbian Hospital Auxiliary. For several years, she volunteered in the gift shop and lottery booth.
John and Jennie continued to give, investing in life-saving equipment for a number of areas throughout the hospital for the next 30 years. They were planning their gift towards the hospital’s redevelopment when John was diagnosed with acute leukemia in December of 2017. Two months later, he passed away at Royal Columbian.
The experience of saying goodbye to John helped Jennie decide how she wanted to support the redevelopment. During John’s last days, loved ones spent many hours by his side in one of the hospital’s small, plain end-of-life rooms. Jennie wants to make sure that future patients receiving palliative care and their families have a private, comforting space and the amenities they need during what is often a very difficult time. She and her family will be funding a new palliative care room in the Acute Care Tower in honour of John.