Gerald Ferguson McKinnon
Gerry departed this life in his 95th year on January 11th, 2015 in his home at Berwick in Comox. Like so many of his generation, his life was shaped by war. He often commented that after surviving D-Day, every day was a gift and he enjoyed that gift to the very last.
Gerry was born in Peterborough, Ontario, to Duncan Alexander McKinnon and Ellen (Ferguson) McKinnon on October 3rd, 1920. At 19, with the war in Europe beginning, he enlisted with the Prince of Wales Rangers. In 1942, fresh from RMC, he was sent as Brigade Intelligence Officer to Victoria to move with the Brigade to Prince George. On the way he developed pneumonia, ending up in the army hospital in Nanaimo where he met and fell in love with Lt. Nursing Sister Mary Campbell from Vancouver. In 1944, after learning Mary’s unit was to be sent to England, he applied to join the British forces as a CanLoan officer. As he lined up in Halifax to board the ship to cross the Atlantic, he looked up into the sea of faces and saw Mary. They met often in London but in the lead up to invasion Gerry, now a Major with the British Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was fully involved with preparations for the invasion of Europe. He landed on D-Day but later was wounded in the battle of Falaise and shipped back to a Canadian hospital in England where his ward nurse just happened to be Sister Mary Campbell. They were married in Aldershot in 1945.
On his return from Europe in 1947 he met his daughter Mary Ellen for the first time and was reunited with Mary at the family home in Vancouver. They then returned to Peterborough where he worked for the DeLaval company and built a great life for his family. Son Tim came along in 1948. Taking early retirement from DeLaval in 1967, the McKinnons moved to Mary’s beloved Vancouver and Gerry joined the Certified General Accountants of B.C. as the Executive Director. He worked with CGA until his retirement in 1981, earning an honourary CGA designation and a BBE (Best Boss Ever) award.
From there the couple moved to Qualicum Beach, building their dream retirement home and having wonderful times playing tennis, swimming, gardening and enjoying their new friends and community. Gerry was a NRGH board member and had much to do with the development of health and seniors facilities in the Oceanside area. Eventually the couple moved to Comox to be closer to their son Tim, living first at Crown Isle, then at Berwick. Mary, a gracious, gentle woman and the best of mothers passed away in 2007.
Gerry’s final years were very active. He sang in Berwick’s choir, was intensely interested in politics at all levels – even managing to get the Town to put in the cross walk in front of Berwick – and could often be seen around town in his silver Solara convertible.
Unfortunately, his daughter, Mary Ellen Chapple, passed away in 2011 but he is survived by his son Tim (Gail Woodburn) of Comox, his grandsons Graham Drinkwalter of Toronto and Alexander Chapple of Port Hope and his granddaughter Sarah Chapple of Toronto.
Gerry was so grateful to his doctors John Fitzpatrick, Ed Howard and Donald Jenkins, to the Berwick staff and Jackie Holt and to Erin and Jenice for the wonderful care they gave him. He was a valiant soldier, a true gentleman, an accomplished businessman, a loving husband and the best of fathers. His was a long life, very well lived.