~ Aug 11, 1931 – Feb 3, 2021 ~
In his 90th year, he was happy to tell people, “We all die sometime and I’ve had a good run. I’ve lived it pretty much how I wanted and my regrets are few and far between.” Family and friends would agree, Alex was one of a kind! Having polio at the age of 8 during the depression and being quarantined in his bedroom for 3 months he couldn’t quite wrap his mind around people complaining about Covid-19 lockdown.
His attitude was, “It’s pretty simple, do what you gotta do.”
Growing up as an only child is likely what shaped his strong sense of independence (the flip side being stubbornness) however, his daughter Roberta was happy to remind him from time to time, “It’s not all about you dad!”
He was easily bored and after 20+ years of climbing poles and spraying brush for Ontario Hydro he uprooted his family in order to register at Sault College. He registered in the RN program at a time when the RN profession was predominantly female. The challenge of learning new things fueled his fire, quelled his boredom and opened doors to many new experiences until his retirement.
Supervisor of the Ambulance Service in Sault Ste Marie and nursing in a number of hospitals between Sault Ste Marie and Wikwemikong brought a constant new stream of challenges, filled his life with countless people and fed his need to make a difference in the lives of others. With no shortage of energy to burn, there was of course community involvement with Kinsmen, Masons and countless committees.
No matter where he travelled along the North Shore there was always somebody that he knew, or somebody that remembered him. A quick stop for gas in a small town often turned into a half hour conversation with someone from years ago.
If you knew him politically you knew he wore “the orange” loud and proud, a socialist to the end. There was no deterring him politically. He was a passionate NDP member, door knocking, stuffing envelopes, manning phones and driving to the poles.
He loved a good auction and finding antique treasures that he could refinish and restore and even more, he loved a steal of a deal. Now his family is left to empty out a house and a shed full of those cherished “treasures.”
He never met a stray dog he didn’t like. If they had no bad habits when he got them it didn’t take long for him to foster some. Diggers, barkers, jumpers, runners and table droolers, all of them, loved and spoiled rotten. Thankfully they all passed before him, although right up till the end he threatened us with getting another one.
In the last few months, it had become very apparent how much of himself he had given through the decades as it was given back to him in great abundance. “Don’t know what I ever did to deserve all this,” was a frequent statement in the last few months. Family will never be able to say “thank you” enough to the endless list of people for the care and support he received. We will forever be in your debt, we could not have done it without all of you.
Even after a 30 year walk with his higher power and the last 10 years in an Anglican Church pew every Sunday, he would likely tell you he wasn’t very religious. He certainly wasn’t one to spout bible verses but those who knew him would say he “walked the walk” to the best of his ability…and that is a great legacy.
Left to carry on his legacy and listen to the colourful stories are his daughter Roberta (Elmer Garrett) his grandchildren Robbie Wilson, Patrick (Britt Carvell), Erin (Matt Vorlicek), Amanda (Jeff Timmermans) Bob Garrett, Rick Garrett (Myra) Christine Garrett and his great grandchildren whose names he never could get straight, Lilly, Noah, Liam, Lucas, Elena, Ryan, Avery, Olivia, Zac, Calvin, Tiana, Gavin, Jackson, Leah. He was predeceased by his only son Robert.
True to his nature he didn’t want a lot of fuss around his death but he did make it very clear that he wanted a piper to pipe happy tunes and there was to be NO singing of Amazing Grace. Right to the very end he was indeed “one of a kind,” our one of a kind, and he will be deeply missed.
Once funeral/celebration of life arrangements can be put in place, although it might be awhile, we will be sure to let everyone know. Until then gather up your stories and old photos to bring and share with family and friends, we look forward to hearing them.
From now until then the family appreciates donations to North Shore Health Network, Box 970 Blind River Ontario P0R 1B0 to support Community Palliative Care or to a charity of your choice. Family can be contacted at [email protected]