Man found dead in Beacon Hill Park faced many challenges, sister says

David Omness faced many challenges over his 48-year life — bipolar disorder, alcoholism, homosexuality, homelessness — but perhaps the greatest was the loss of his mother in January, his sister said Monday.

Omness died about two weeks ago in the northwest corner of Beacon Hill Park. His body was found on the weekend. Foul play is not a factor.

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He died eight months after his mother and greatest supporter, Victoria resident Jeanne Omness, died at 89.

David, the youngest of 12 children, “was a constant worry for her,” Sheryl Nagy said from Saskatchewan, where the family had roots.

Other family members live in Victoria, but David was closest to his mother, she said.

He was a youth delegate at Joe Clark’s leadership convention, and cherished a photo of himself with the Progressive Conservative leader.

Omness had at one time dealt cards at the Colwood casino and then, about 15 years ago, he decided to get on a career path and took a legal secretary’s course in Nanaimo.

“He was very upbeat, positive, intelligent and interested in politics,” said Nagy.

He worked a bit in the legal aspects of real estate, but then his issues got in the way. Over the past 10 years, Omness suffered a decline. He had numerous opportunities through family to get into rehab and get help, but he was unable to follow through, Nagy said.

“I think he had so many people pointing him in a direction, because there are other family members in alcoholic recovery, and they were consistently trying to help him,” she said.

“After Mom passed away, that was his last great support system. I think he’d kind of abused his relationship with much of the family, to some degree.”

Omness was estranged from many of his family members while others “weren’t in touch because it was painful,” Nagy said.

Omness wasn’t married and didn’t have children. He came out as gay 20 years ago, and while he was accepted within his family, he might have felt stigma from others, Nagy said.

She wasn’t surprised, but was deeply saddened to hear of her brother’s death.

“He had such potential. Had things gone a bit differently, he could have been a very influential and successful person, but it didn’t work out that way.”

Omness was also predeceased by his father Gerry, and sisters Geraldine and Paula. He is survived by six sisters and three brothers.

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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