It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Lori’s passing on August 29, 2017. She passed away peacefully in her beautiful home surrounded by the love and comfort of her family.

Lori was born in Vancouver and raised in Ucluelet, BC. She attended the University of Victoria and began her teaching career in Tofino in 1977. She married her husband Tom in Ucluelet in 1980 and in 1983 gave birth to their twin daughters Heather and Leah in Victoria. Throughout her over 30-year career in education in Victoria, she taught at many School District 61 Elementary Schools. After completing her Masters of Arts in Leadership at Royal Roads University, she went on to work as an administrator, serving as Vice Principal at Vic West and Campus View Elementary Schools, and as Principal of Tillicum Elementary School for over a decade.

Lori’s life was full in so many ways. She was a committed teacher whose thoughtful approach to education, and dedication and attention made it possible for her students to excel in the classroom and beyond. She was a respected administrator whose leadership united the many colleagues with whom she worked and inspired the countless young educators whom she mentored. She was a supportive, fun loving, and attentive confidante to her many friends. Most importantly, she was a committed and loving partner to her husband Tom, a proud and devoted mother to her daughters Heather and Leah, and most recently, an adoring Nana to her grand daughter Florence.

Lori loved nature and the outdoors, cherishing her time at the lake with family and visits to the rugged beaches of the Vancouver Island’s West Coast. She loved family travel, visiting favourites such as Palm Springs, Maui, France, and Cancun over the past few years. She had a great enthusiasm for an active lifestyle, enjoying vigorous walks with many beloved walking partners, and a variety of activities at her cabin including kayaking, biking, and stand-up paddle boarding.

Lori was sick for only the last 3 months of her life. Like in all other areas, she faced her sudden illness with dignity, optimism, and determination. Her strength and hope in the face of this ultimate challenge, as well as her fierce love for her family, will forever inspire us. Her passing is a deep loss to the many communities that she impacted and was a part of: the School District community, her community of friends, and her large family.

Lori is predeceased by her parents Mary Niemi and Leo Suo and survived by her husband Tom, daughters Leah (Ben and grand daughter Florence) and Heather (Mark), sister Louanna (Terry and nephew Ryan), brother Paul (Kay), and a large and loving extended family.

We wish to thank the wonderful doctors, nurses, and counsellors at Victoria Hospice who helped us care for Lori at home.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, September 14, 2017 from 3-7pm at the Beach House, 5109 Cordova Bay Road, Victoria, BC.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Victoria Hospice or, as Lori would likely encourage, to any charity one feels passionate about.

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens

  • Zuzana & Andrew Capeau
    December 4, 2017

    To Lori’s Family: We just learned of her passing in the Times Colonist this weekend and are deeply saddened by this incredible loss. Both of our sons attended Tillicum School (from 2006 to 2014). We fondly remember Lori standing out in the school-yard greeting children and parents in the morning. I remember how she always made time to meet with us whenever we needed to talk about our kids with her. I was struck by her intelligence and compassion. Honestly, I felt like my kids were in such good hands with Lori at the helm of Tillicum School. She made a big difference in our lives and I just wanted you to know that. We will think of her often.

  • McCall Bros.
    October 2, 2017

    We have recently learned of Lori’s passing. We have read her obituary. An accomplished lady. Our sincere condolences go out to all the family.
    Brian and Shirley Baird, Ucluelet

  • Nancy Fedoruk
    September 15, 2017

    Heather, Leah, and family.
    We were heartbroken to hear the news of your loving mother Lori. You are both the reflections of your mother’s kindness and strong spirit. We send our love to the whole family.
    Nancy, Karen and the Fedoruk family

  • Laura Trunkey
    September 15, 2017

    I worked as an EA at Tillicum from 2006-2011. Of all the schools I spent time in I never met a principal as committed to the success and inclusion of all children, regardless of their challenges. Lori shaped the culture of that school, and I always felt supported and valued in my role there. I have fond memories of lunches with her in the basement “office” of the school meals program. As an educator she touched hundreds of lives with her commitment and dedication, with her kindness and compassion, and with her willingness to fight for support for the kids who needed it most, and I’m sure the ripples of this will continue for years to come.

  • Jodie Frazer
    September 14, 2017

    Of the 13 principals I had over the years Lori was by far the shining star. She had the best sense of humour and was endlessly supportive. Her ability to connect with children (and adults) was extraordinary. She enriched the last 10 years of my career in so many ways and I will be forever grateful. I can’t imagine Tillicum without her.

  • Linda Griffin
    September 13, 2017

    Tom, Heather, Leah and all the Burley Family, I was absolutely shock to hear of Lori’s passing. It’s been many years since I’ve seen any of you. Lori was one of the first mom’s I met when I discovered I was expecting twins at 7 1/2 months. Lori gave me a big hug whispering in my ear, you’ll be ok, just pretend that’s the way its supposed to be and no one will be any wiser. We had some good times in the twin’s club. Thank you Lori. My prayers go to the family. Sincerely, Linda Griffin and Family. Your laughter will live on within your family.

  • Arlene and Steve Winpenny
    September 13, 2017

    Tom and family, Louanna, Paul and families
    We were shocked and saddened to hear of Lori’s passing. We are so sorry for your loss. Our sincere condolences to you all.

  • Liz Ross
    September 12, 2017

    Lori was an amazing teacher. I worked with her in her class at Campus View. Lori had such positive energy that she made her classroom a place all the kids wanted to be. I so enjoyed her humour and as I think of her I can hear her laughter, as she told us stories, or made a comment about the world around us, or the stage of life we were in. She loved her family, and spoke of you often. My deepest sympathy to you all. She will be deeply missed by everyone.
    Liz Ross

  • Shannon Drew
    September 12, 2017

    Tom, Leah and Heather,
    I am so sorry to learn of the passing of Lori and my heart goes out to you all during this difficult time. The one thing I remember distinctly about Lori was her passion for children which she exemplified in her role as an educator. I had the pleasure of seeing this first-hand during a visit to Tillicum Elementary School with Sandy Richardson of the Victoria Foundation. Lori exuded a kind spirit that touched so many people. May she rest in peace.
    You are in my thoughts and prayers,
    Shannon Drew

  • Susan Lucato
    September 11, 2017

    Dear Tom & family,
    We are so sorry to learn of Lori’s passing. We will always remember Lori with a smile, as she always had one for us, whenever and wherever we met. Her sense of humour (wicked!), and infectious laugh made you want to spend time in her company. Not to mention watching the two of you “cut a rug” on the dance floor! Take good care and know that we are sending our love and prayers to your family.
    Sincerely, Susan & Sandro Lucato

  • Debbie Mulligan
    September 11, 2017

    Ben and Leah….D’Arcy and I were saddened to hear that you have lost your Mother,Mother-in-law and Nana to your precious baby girl Florence.
    Please accept our sincerest condolences….you and your family are in our thoughts.
    Debbie and D’Arcy Mulligan

  • Barb Gibson/Lovick
    September 11, 2017

    Dear Family,
    Tom, you won’t know me but I was once married to Gary Gibson, (Tofino) and knew your mum and dad. I had of course met all of you but that was many years ago now. My daughter, Shelley Green is Deputy Superintendent for School Dist. 61 and I know she has been deeply troubled by Lori’s illness and passing.

    I just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you all and am so sorry.
    Life goes on but at this time I’m sure you are wondering how that is possible.

    Love to you all,
    Barb Gibson/Lovick

  • June Panton Born
    September 11, 2017

    Tom and family; Louanna and family; Paul and family – My deepest condolences to you all. Lori always had the most beautiful smile and spunky personality. No doubt she will be missed by many. I had the pleasure of running into Lori at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal just this past July and met your beautiful daughter, Leah, and grandbaby Florence. May all your wonderful memories give you comfort during this difficult time and which will forever be treasured. Thinking of you all!

  • Kathi Taylor
    September 11, 2017

    So sorry to hear of Lori’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you all.

  • Cammy Coughlin
    September 11, 2017

    My heartfelt condolences to the Burley family. I met Lori 13 years ago as a new administrator to Victoria. She was welcoming,and always had great advice, interwoven with her witty sense of humour. She was a wonderful lady and her absence is deeply felt. She was taken far too young and had lots more to give. My deepest sympathies to all.

  • april madill
    September 11, 2017

    Lori you were always so sweet , you will be missed by many . Sending love and healing hugs to the family . April Madill (sister of Betty Hanley )

  • Judy Burnell
    September 11, 2017

    Tom and Family,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. Deepest condolences. My thoughts are with you.


  • Lori Lafave
    September 11, 2017

    My heart hurts, Lori was such a beautiful, funny and strong woman. The stories and the laughter always surrounded her. May all your wonderful memories give you comfort. My sincerest condolences Tom, Leah and Heather.

  • Ann Mavoufis (Stewart)
    September 11, 2017

    Tom and family please accept our condolences from all the Stewart family in Ireland on the untimely passing of Lori. Love and Light to you all. Ann Magoufis (Stewart).

  • Marvin Wood
    September 10, 2017

    Hey Tom and Family
    I just saw your post on FB. Betty and I are deeply saddened that you have lost someone so dear to your heart. By reading the other condolence messages, we know that Lori was a wonderful and admired person who will be missed. Please stay in touch. Marvin

  • Beth Fricke
    September 10, 2017

    Louanna and family,

    Very sorry for the loss of your sister. Am thinking of you at this difficult time.

    Beth Fricke

  • Danielle Fullwood
    September 10, 2017

    I’m very sorry for your loss, and hope you find comfort in each other and your happy memories through this difficult time. <3 Hugs

  • Greg Mulligan
    September 10, 2017

    Wow, heavy hearts here. Wishing you all the peace possible.

  • Elaine McVie
    September 10, 2017

    To Tom and family,
    My condolences on Lori’s passing. She was one of the best work colleagues. I admired her forthright honesty about working in the school system and her humourous and witty comments. She was my “go to” person; the first principal I would call when I needed to discuss something or run an idea past her. I will miss those phone calls and her insightful conversations. She was committed to doing her best for students and staff. She was a consummate educator. And, from the stories shared, she was devoted to her family.

  • Mary Hutson
    September 10, 2017

    The Burley Family:

    I only had the opportunity to meet Lori during my daughter’s first year of Kindergarten last year. She was a constant figure in the crowd, and would always be seen in the school attending to one need or another. My personal interactions were usually hampered by my (then) 2 year old son who was never quite ready to leave his sister at school. She always spoke with respect, and I could see the sympathy and humour in her eyes when I was working with my son to convince him to go.

    Her light will always be at Tillicum. She seemed the very beacon and champion of that school and she will be missed by many more than just myself.

    Thank you for sharing her with us.

  • David Todd
    September 10, 2017

    The Burley family – my sincere condolences for your immense loss

  • Ross Hill
    September 9, 2017

    Tom and family: Mark had told me that Lori had passed suddenly and I was shocked. Now I see it in the TC. I think the first time we met was waiting in line for a campsite at Rathtrevor and we have run into you both for years since. Our condolences. Take care, Ross and Kathy Hill

  • Martin Murenbeeld
    September 9, 2017

    To Tom and family, we are so sorry to read of your loss. We remember Lori as being full of life, and a dedicated mother and wife.
    Our hearts go out to you,
    Martin and Helen Murenbeeld

  • Barb Fullerton
    September 9, 2017

    Tom and family
    we send our heartfelt condolences to you and at this very sad time. Lori will be fondly remembered and sadly missed.
    Much Love

    Jance Croteau
    Barb Fullerton
    Sue Clayton
    (Jim Fitzsimmons’ Family)

  • Janice Matthews
    September 9, 2017

    To Tom and family,
    I am so sorry that you have lost your wife, mom and nana. Lori was and still is an inspiration to so many people.
    I will miss Lori’s intellect and her passion. She was a wonderful friend and colleague. But most of all I’ll miss her sense of humour. She was truly one of the wittiest people I’ve ever known.
    I valued her friendship and I’m thankful to have known her.
    Janice Matthews

  • D. Lorne McCulloch
    September 9, 2017

    Kelvin and I extend sincerest condolences to you, Tom, on the loss of your dear Lori. Our world can ill afford the loss of such a wonderful person.

    Her memory is an inspiration to us all and we pray for your strength and peace as you continue on Life’s journey.

    Knowing you both has been a privilege.
    Lorne and Kelvin McCulloch

  • Mike Baier
    September 9, 2017

    Tom and family……our heart felt sympathies for your unfortunate loss. She was way too young to be taken from those who knew her and loved her. Life is not fair sometimes and obviously this is one of those times that will be the toughest for you to endure and get through. We know you of strong mind with a huge heart and those attributes will carry you through to help soften the blow and get through this difficult time. Take care.
    Mike and Simona

  • Terri Thomas
    September 9, 2017

    I will always remember Lori with a smile. Lori was fun to be around. She brightened up the staff room with her zany stories (often about the horrors of menopause) and was someone you immediately felt comfortable with. Lori was down to earth and authentic. She was a great administrator because she walked the walk and was trusted to do the right thing. She understood struggle and she dealt with it using humour and compassion. It was my honour to work with her at Campus View. I still treasure the note she wrote to me upon my retirement. Please know that Lori’s contribution to Education was eclipsed only by her day to day interactions with the people she knew. She will be greatly missed and not soon forgotten.

  • Kyman Chan
    September 9, 2017

    Dear Tom, Heather and Leah – so sorry to hear of Lori’s passing. I will always remember her spirit, passion and wit. My deepest condolences to all of you. Sincerely, Kyman

  • Robert and Marianne Eng
    September 8, 2017

    To Tom, and family. Please accept our deepest and heart felt condolences for the loss of your wife, Lori. She will be forever missed by her family and friends and whoever she had come in contact with.
    Sincerely Bob and Marianne Eng and family

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