“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” – Unknown
With heavy hearts we say goodbye to our dear Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, and Friend. The family is thankful for Don’s many years of good health and for a peaceful passing.
Don is survived by his son Ron (Iona), daughters Cheryl (Jim), Darla (Scott), Sandra (Eugene). Brothers, Ernest (Beatrice), Kenneth (Denise). 13 grandchildren (spouses), 24 great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Don is predeceased by his loving wife Edna in 2016, and by his brother Melvyn.
Don was born to Benjamin John and Beatrice May Gadd on July 7, 1920. Don’s dad homesteaded seven miles SW of the town of Briercrest, Saskatchewan; twenty-five miles SE of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
At the age of two, Don, and his mother Beatrice, contracted scarlet fever. On Beatrice’s deathbed, she called on her sister Maude to move from England to care for “Donny.” Maude married Benjamin and bore three brothers for Don, Melvyn, Ernest, and Kenneth. Don felt very close to his brothers telling many tales of fun times together. Don spoke of how the boys would “cut up” at the dinner table much to his Mother’s dismay, having taught the boys proper English manners. Don often spoke of the sacrifice his stepmother made for him by leaving her life behind in England to care for him.
Don was a teenager during the 1930’s when, in his words, “much of the farm land changed hands via the wind.” Don witnessed dust storms that buried fences and hailstorms that broke windows. One treasure Don owned, as a teen, was his saddle horse named Toby that was born and raised on the farm. Toby and Don did not always agree. For instance, at the end of the day it was time to find the cattle and bring them home. In the distance a herd was sighted, so off they went. Toby would round up cattle without reins, going after stragglers, nipping them on the tailbone hurrying them along to catch up. However, if the first herd belonged to someone else, they would have to go further afield. Toby had a lazy streak and figured one cow was the same as another. Toby decided that he did not want to go further and figured if he threw Don off, he could take this herd home and take things easy. Toby tried to throw Don several time but only in vain, as Toby was booted in the flanks to a full gallop until he was quite willing to behave himself. A bit of a conflict of wills, but good friends. Another trick, if the opportunity presented itself, was for Toby to take off at a gallop for a few hundred yards, like a runaway, and then he would wait for Don to catch up. Don believed Toby enjoyed this bit of fun!
As a teen, Don overhauled cars, tractors and labour saving devices such as a grain loader, among many other things, all done with very simple hand tools. Drilling holes through thick metal by hand was a challenge and very time consuming.
Don and his good friend Orval Tremain were members of a farm grain club. After a time, Don began to notice one of Orval’s pretty sisters, a real heartbreaker; though she seemed aloof at first. It was late one evening when Don and Orval arrived home from the grain club so Don stayed overnight at Orvals. After breakfast the next morning, this pretty sister took off on horseback to round up some cattle. Don quickly gave chase. Don was relieved as he came alongside not to get the cold shoulder. In fact, much later, this cutie admitted to Don that she held back a bit when she noticed him gaining.
Having completed his grade 9 diploma, Don stayed on the farm to help his dad. Don joined the RCAF in 1941 serving in Saskatoon as an airplane mechanic and supervisor until the end of the Second World War in 1945. Don wondered if it was foolishness or bravery to leave this luscious girl behind. Most of the courting took place by letter.
While on a military leave, Don, shaking in his boots, asked Edna’s Father for her hand in marriage. After a drilling and many promises made, the couple received her parents blessing. Don popped the question to Edna and to his joy he got a “yes!” In 1944, Don married his sweetheart, Edna Fern Tremain.
Don and Edna farmed from 1945 to 1972 near Tilney, Saskatchewan. They were blessed with four children, Ronald Brian, Cheryl Ann, Darla Joanne, and Sandra Mae. The children worked on the farm alongside their parents during the planting and harvest seasons.
Saskatchewan winters were many times harsh with snow banks as high as train cars. Don built a homemade snow blower and spent many an hour plowing snow and helping neighbors when the need arose. Don’s jeep, with the crank start, was sure to save the day by getting his children and neighbour children to school; plowing through mud and snow. Don spent his winters in the shop overhauling his and his neighbour’s machinery. Don also designed and built many items such as arc welders, a riding garden tractor, and many other items. Last, but not least, Don built the “Gadoo,” similar to a Skidoo (before they were manufactured and sold commercially).
Edna was very musical and Don loved the many times when Edna would play the piano, organ, and vibraharp. Don would bring out his violin and “try” to play along; earplugs were definitely in order. Don’s parents bought his violin from the Eaton’s store when he was about 12 year’s old.
In 1972, Don and Edna sold the farm and moved to Kelowna, BC where they spent time together building unique homes and creating beautiful landscaped yards. They enjoyed taking their RV south in the winter,
Don and Edna were active in their church and volunteered for several years in a community service center in Kelowna.
In 2009, Don and Edna moved back to Lacombe to be close to family.
Don will be remembered for his independence, his wit, his love of telling life stories, his ability, at the age of 98, to text and to share emojis, and photos digitally with family and great grandchildren. In addition, Don drove his car on the day that he passed!
The celebration of Don’s life will be held in Lacombe at a later date.
John 11: 25
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.