Rita Driver chats with a friend amidst the racks of hand-me-down goods she carried at West Coasters thrift store in Ucluelet. (Mya Driver photo)

Community mourns West Coast’s kind and generous Rita Driver

“She touched a lot of people’s lives and hearts.”

Rita Driver, a warm West Coast face, environmentalist and friend to most, passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 3 in the comfort of her home.

Driver died of natural causes at the age of 73. According to family members, Driver had high blood pressure, which may have caused a stroke or heart attack.

“It was a shock. We weren’t prepared for it. She will be greatly missed,” said her daughter Mya.

Since her mother’s death, Mya said she has received a flood of Facebook comments and private messages from friends and individuals Driver had helped in the past.

“She touched a lot of people’s lives and hearts,” said Mya.

Driver settled in Tofino in the early 70s. An excerpt written by Mya for ‘The Sound Newspaper’ notes that her mom helped feed and facilitate American draft dodgers who were hiding on the coast.

“She camped on Long Beach “before it was a park” and stayed at the old Wickanninish Inn, which was an artists’ retreat for such notables as Arthur Lismer (a group of Seven member),” reads Mya’s article.

Driver raised her three children, Mya, Ladon, and Nathan, in Tofino.

“She had three biological kids, but she mothered everyone,” said Mya. “She always told kids to chase rainbows. What she meant by that was to follow your dreams.”

A heart banner with well-wishes from loved ones covers the shop door where Driver worked for the last decade. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Driver opened the West Coasters Re-use It thrift shop at the top of Ucluelet’s Main Street in 2012. Mya said her mom always used the policy ‘Carry and Cash’.

“She would always let people take what they need and pay later. That is not common,” said Mya, adding that she never got ripped off. “They always came back because they are so thankful to be trusted.”

Driver nourished a longtime relationship with local First Nations and their culture.

“Her whole life she just kept trying until the end where she finally got respect. Now she has a lot of respect. Most people would have given up trying, you know?” Mya told the Westerly.

“She believed in peace. She believed in peace so much,” said Mya.

A few days after Driver’s sudden passing, family members launched the Go Fund Me page ‘Remembering Rita Driver’ to help wrap up expenses and pay for cremation costs.

There will be a Celebration of Life gathering for Driver on Sunday, March 1 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Tofino Legion. It will be a potluck style dinner and everyone is welcome to attend.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

SHORELINE COLUMN: Shopping locally is a time-honoured tradition on the West Coast

RELATED: Love Medals celebrate acts of kindness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations councillor says ‘Hereditary chiefs have the ultimate power’

Ahousaht future hereditary chief Jaiden George explains Indigenous governance.

Major renovations underway at Ucluelet Co-op

“People are going to be really pleased with what they see.”

Ucluelet pursues $8M water upgrade

Project aims to expand water capacity while tackling town’s brown water woes.

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read