James (Jim) Arthur Rainer, May 19, 1932 – February 2, 2018

Everyone in The Alcuin Society feels a great sense of loss over the passing of an exceptional leader and an even more exceptional friend in the person of Jim Rainer who served as the Society’s chairperson for ten years. We plan to publish a series of memories in a future issue of Amphora but wanted to share the obituary prepared by members of his family with members of the Society.


May 19, 1932 – February 2, 2018 James (Jim) Arthur Rainer passed away peacefully on February 2, 2018, in the family home in North Vancouver that he had known since 1964.  By his side was his loving wife of nearly 65 years, Doreen Florence Rainer (Brinham), and their wonderful caregiver, Natalia Hadjuk.

Jim was a son of the late Arthur and Grace Rainer, half-brother of the late Joe Rainer and the late Nellie Rainer, and brother of Marion Hubbard and Jean Freer.  He was also the proud father of Andrea Rainer, Robert Rainer, Bruce Rainer, and Susan Thomson, and doting grandfather of Robin and Alison Rainer, Jack and Madeline Rainer, and Jane and Kate Thomson.

Born in Grand Prairie, AB, Jim moved as an infant with his family to Saanich (Victoria).  There, Arthur (a World War I veteran and amputee) and Grace raised the family on a modest, rural homestead, growing much of their food.  After graduating from high school, Jim studied commerce at Victoria College for two years.  During this period, he and Doreen would meet at a dance in Victoria, and in 1953 they married.  That year the newlyweds moved to Vancouver and two years later Jim had earned his Bachelor of Commerce at the University of British Columbia.  In 1957 they moved to Seattle where, in 1959, Jim completed his Master of Business Administration.

The majority of Jim’s long career was spent in the forest products industry.  Over 1978 to his retirement in 1992, he held senior executive positions with Vancouver-based Crown Zellerbach Canada Ltd., Crown Forest Industries Ltd., and Fletcher Challenge Canada Ltd.  Between 1970 and 1998 he was a member of the executive committee of the Council of Forest Industries.  Upon retirement, Jim helped found and for many years presided over an association looking after the interests of retired salaried employees of the company to which he had dedicated most of his working life.

Jim was a man of robust intellect, abundant energy, and many interests, including the quirky (e.g., collecting mechanical pencils).  He coached his sons in Little League baseball, played racquetball and basketball with friends, and took up running before running was in vogue.  He was an avid gardener, was a long-time member of numerous natural history societies, and for many years was the Field Editor of Wildflower, North America’s Journal of Native Flora.

Jim was also a voracious reader and book collector.  He was a long-time Chairman of the Alcuin Society, Canada’s “only society dedicated to the entire range of interests related to books.” In time, Jim would make generous donations from his book collection to the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University.

Indeed, Jim gave much of himself to others and to causes he believed in, from higher education to libraries to conservation.  For example, for 22 years (1970-1992) he chaired his company’s United Way Campaign, and over 1992-1996 he co-chaired a fundraising drive that raised $63 million for the University of Victoria.

For a period of time in the 1960s and 70s, Jim owned not one but two MG (Morris Garages) sports cars, and many pleasurable moments were spent driving these cars.  Perhaps peak happiness was reached on warm summer days, the car top down, taking his four children for a swim at Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver, followed thereafter with ice cream for all at a Dairy Queen.  Now that was living!

Jim’s family extends deep gratitude for his long-term care to caregivers Natalia Hadjuk and Lessa Panko, and to Dr. Kathleen Bell-Irving and nurse Cameron Young.

At Jim’s request, there will be no funeral or memorial service. In lieu of flowers, kindly consider making a donation in Jim’s name to the Alcuin Society (http://alcuinsociety.com/membership/donate/) and/or the Native Plant Society of British Columbia (http://www.npsbc.ca/index.html).

1 Comment

  1. Eric Swanick

    Learning that I would soon be moving to BC from the East Coast (2002), Jim Rainer wrote stating that among other things I would be exchanging snow for rain. The exchange proved to be much more. It was the beginning of a long and rewarding friendship. It began with the book, discussions about the book, branched out into many different topics but the common thread in all conversations was the book and/or ephemera.
    To put it modestly JR (early on we contacted each other via our initials) had many interests — foremost was his family and also included cars, gardening, wildflowers, bees/the environment, select sports ( we cheered for the same teams, I think) and all topics discussed included select books dealing with whatever the subject. In our frequent conversations (JR would often ring my office shortly after 8:00 am) we would discuss a variety of topics including the further development of SFU Special Collections in the area of the book/bibliography.
    JR donated generously to select BC institutions as well as to the University of Toronto. Among his significant collections donated to SFU was the Incline Press Collection of books and ephemera. He had met the Incline Press proprietor, Graham Moss, at a London gathering of the Ephemera Society. Moss discussed his plans to begin a private press. JR immediately established a standing order for what was to become one of England’s leading private presses ( see http://www.sfu.ca/aq/issues/november2006/features/incline-press.html). During his time with Alcuin Society JR arranged for Moss to visit Vancouver for a week of lectures and touring. JR was an exemplary Chair of the Alcuin Society.
    JR was the ideal ambassador for his many interests. When one met JR the hand went out, the smile lit up the surrounding area and you received his undivided attention.
    JR and I discussed travel. I doubt that he shared my love for Yemen and this was prior to the devastating civil war currently taking place. There is a Yemeni expression which I dedicate to JR. It goes as follows: ” You’re in my face”. It meant that the person before you was never out of your vision. That you kept them foremost in your mind. JR was in front of my face.
    Thank you, JR.
    ES (Eric Swanick)

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