Parke ~ George Henry
passes away at the age of almost 89
George Henry Parke, born February 16, 1916, to Fred and Martha “Mattie” Parke spent the first years of his life in Islay, Alberta where he was born on their homestead. His family soon moved to Onion Lake, Saskatchewan, where George lived until his strong yearning for places unseen and people unknown put him on a bicycle at the age of 16, and he headed west to Kelowna, British Columbia. It was there he eventually met and married Jean Alicia McCreary. Though quitting his formal education at only the 8th grade, he gained extensive education simply yet remarkably through the way he lived his life. George’s interests throughout his life were incredibly varied, and he could even have been thought of as Jack-of-all-trades-and-a-master-of-many. He took great care in doing everything he did carefully and well.
With the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted with the Canadian Air Force, his great ambition to fly a Spitfire. But upon learning of his outstanding skills as a baker, the Air Force steered him instead in this direction, and eventually he was stationed at Comox baking for the troops to their delight. This turned out to be one of the many highlights of his life as it was in the Comox Valley that he and wife Jean established themselves with their two then-born children Ronald Campbell and Shirley Jean; their third daughter Maureen Gail would be born one year later. George loved watching his children grow up playing on the beaches of Point Holmes, and having grown up himself dreaming of a life on the ocean, George and his family settled in Courtenay. George then began what would be a 12-year stint as a commercial fisherman. During this time he realized though he loved being on the water, he was not cut out to be a highline fisherman. So he did what many men during their lives only dream of doing—he built himself a 36’ sailboat with his own hands and then he sailed, eventually in fact all the way down to Southern California alone with his then 15-year-old daughter Maureen, where the warm air and palm trees pleased him so much he decided to move his family to this new-found land. There was no irony when his first job, once they completed their move to Southern California, was building boats. After living in Southern California and a brief sojourn in Colorado and Washington state, George and Jean eventually made their way back to Courtenay in 1993.
At any given moment of any given day, one may walk into a room where George would be found listening to music, often humming along…anything from Strauss to Johnny Cash. If not listening to music, he may instead be supplying his own music, whistling with beautiful tone and vibrato. He was the sort of person who could recite a poem at the drop of a hat, The Highwayman being one of his most preferred.
George was a gentle and quiet man, though never short on words. Two times a day for the majority of his adult life he would be found at his favourite coffee shop having a “bite to eat”, most certainly in the form of pie or a muffin, with black coffee, having some sort of stimulating conversation with a friend—sometimes new, sometimes old; this conversation would most often be on things that mattered most to him—environmental matters and world politics, though he could hold up his end of the conversation on nearly any matter dealt his way. It was during these times he made some of his dearest friends.
George is survived by daughter Shirley Jean Edwards of Auberry, California; daughter Maureen Gail Pound of Seattle, Washington; 6 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; 3 brothers; and 1 sister. He was predeceased by wife Jean Alicia Parke, son Ronald Campbell Parke, 2 brothers, and 1 sister.
A Memorial for immediate family was held on Wednesday, December 29, 2004. Any donations made in the honour of George Henry Parke may be made to St. Joseph’s Extended Care Unit or a charity of your choice.