1937-2021 ~ It is with great sadness that the family of Gordon “Vern” McGarrigle announce his passing after a vicious, and thankfully short bout with pancreatic cancer.
Vern was born in Port Alberni, BC in 1937, the youngest child to George and Greta McGarrigle.
Vern will be sadly missed by his wife of 59 years, Nell, along with children Dave (Shelley), Glen (Jennifer), Ruth (Darrell), Marion (Pete) and loving grandchildren Daniel, Derek, Jaron and Jaena, and his big brothers Grant and Garry. He was predeceased by his beloved sister, Gail.
Vern grew up “on the Island”, met his wife and fell in love during an afternoon of swimming, when his friend John brought his little sister along. The rest, as they say, is history.
Vern and Nell married and moved to Thurston Bay, (which was only accessible by boat), then to Campbell River, Kamloops, and Hosmer, finally settling in Fernie where he loved the fresh air, mountains, and especially the Fernie Ski Hill. Vern built the house on Ridgemont Avenue with his own hands, raised the family there, and he and Nell lived there until his passing.
Vern held various occupations, from working in his Dad’s butcher shop and grocery store as a kid, to a short stint in a fish cannery, logging, Forest Service, mail carrier, construction, mining, and locksmithing. Not until the age of 83, when he received his cancer diagnosis, did he start to talk about “retiring” from locksmithing.
Never a dull moment, rumor has it that Vern’s career as a mail carrier may have ended after an incident involving a barking dog, a road, and a car. He would never eat canned fish, because of what he had experienced in his days at the cannery.
Although Vern dropped out of high school to work, he completed his GED in 1982, and was a lifelong learner, completing, among others, many safety and first aid courses, computer courses and locksmithing (which would allow him to study while convalescing from one of his many mishaps). He was always curious and was never shy about asking about something that piqued his curiosity.
Vern had exceptional carpentry skills and could build almost anything, but he wasn’t always the quickest at getting things done around the house as Nell will attest to, finally finishing the basement bathroom in the Ridgemont house in only 20 short years.
One of his favourite activities was going for a flight, not much of a reason was required. His 2nd love was the dual engine plane, “Big Red”. This affair sadly ended with a mishap involving a mountain in Coal Creek. After recovering from a broken back and ankle in the plane crash, Vern continued to combine his love for skiing with his love of volunteering and was active on the ski patrol until a ski mishap ended his skiing career.
Vern also volunteered with the Fernie Fire Department, BC Ambulance, Search and Rescue, the Rod and Gun Club, and worked in and taught industrial first aid. He would always be willing to volunteer with any hamburger or ticket sale, and any opportunity to put his carpentry skills to work, including building ramps. Other hobbies of Vern’s included umpiring in Nell’s softball league in the early years, camping at Koocanusa, scuba diving, darts with the boys, and Saturday afternoon meat draws at the Legion.
Vern loved keeping up on what was happening in the valley with daily coffee, and later covid beers in the backyard.
Vern was not afraid to speak his mind, he loved a good argument, not mattering if he was right or wrong, as long as he could get his point across.
For such a large man, he was amazingly fussy; not liking canned fish (see above), chocolate, rice or tomatoes, and would throw a fit if any of these appeared on his plate. Vern was, however, the world’s biggest lover of peanut butter and white chocolate, and beer that anyone else was buying. He hated a shirt without a pocket for his glasses and disliked a wallet in his back pocket, wearing a fanny pack before they were “cool”.
He loved riding his bike, for years with dog Skeeter in the basket. He completed a cross BC bike trip, many bike trips to Koocanusa and Calgary and had some great stories from his adventures and would always have time to tell a story especially over a beer.
Along with his family, Vern was also loved by many friends, including his backyard Covid beer buddies, the Legion crowd, the coffee crowd and many, many more. A walk down main street was never quick, as he would talk to almost everyone he saw, whether he knew them or not.
Vern’s greatest loves were his wife Nell, a cold beer, or two fingers of scotch. Vern was a down to earth person and didn’t have any use for the “finer” things in life preferring things that were utilitarian, so in lieu of flowers or as he would call them “posies”, the family would be honored with donations to Angel Flight East Kootenay (https://www.angelflightek.ca/), the Fernie Legion (https://fernielegion.weebly.com/) or a charity of your choice. Please raise a glass in cheers to the great man that Vern was.
Nell would like to thank the neighbors on Ridgemont Avenue, the many Fernie friends and those farther away, the nurses and staff at Fernie hospital, and Dr. Soetaert for the exceptional care that Vern received.
A private family Service will be held on Saturday January 23 – with Fire Hall honor guard.
Memories & condolences shared at www.cherishedmemoriesfs.com
Arrangements entrusted to Cherished Memories Funeral Services Ltd.
Cherished Memories Funeral Services Ltd.
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