As a family we are sad to announce the passing of Don on January 12, 2017 at the Edmonton General, Edmonton, AB.
Don is survived by his children: Bernie, David, Susan, Sean and Mary-Anne; daughters in-law Donna and Gail; grandchildren: Mark, Sean, Ally, Abby and Andie, great grandsons: Ashton, Seth, Gavin and Quintin; sisters in-law Shirley and Charlotte; brothers in-law Mike and Ted; nieces and nephews: Kate, Scott, Patie, Bill, Veronica, Sasha, Crystal, Ashley, Brodie, Nick, Damian, Ivy, Colby and Maxx.
Don was predeceased by his wife Gail; his parents George and Patricia Lahey; in-laws Basil and Stella Braithwaite; brother in-law Norm Fletcher and niece Melanie Fletcher.
Don was born December 2, 1934 in Halifax, N.S. but raised in Dartmouth, the only child of George and Patricia Lahey. As a child Don had odd jobs to make extra cash. He delivered ice and was a rink rat at the old Dartmouth rink where he was paid by free skating. He was a natural athlete and involved in rowing, baseball, curling and golf but Don was a truly aa hockey fanatic and as a teen he signed a commitment card with the Montreal Canadiens but instead joined the Royal Canadian Air Force 1950 as an underage recruit.
He was posted to St. Jean’s PQ. and became a AC2 and he worked in Supply. It was on base that he met Gail Braithwaite and they married June 2,1956. They were posted to Saskatoon SK where their sons Bernie and David were born. Next they were posted to Summerside PEI 1960, where Susan was born. Their next posting was near Boden at 4 Wing in Germany where in 1963 Sean was born. After four years they moved back to Canada to CFB Moose Jaw SK where Mary-Anne was born.
Once back in Saskatchewan Don and his family were able to spend lots of time with extended family. There were lots of camping trips and picnics with his in-laws & their families which made for some of Don’s fondest memories. Wherever Don served he was always involved in hockey be it playing, coaching or refereeing. In Moose Jaw Don coached three young men in hockey that made it into the NHL, one of which was Clark Gillies, who sent Don a copy of his Hockey Hall of Fame portrait, autographed and framed, for his 80th birthday.
The family was posted once again in 1973 to Shearwater NS, however, they lived in Dartmouth NS, close to Don’s parents, George and Pat. It was there that Don retired from the Air Force and in the summer 1974 the family moved to Fort McMurray AB to work in the Oil and Gas industry, which would see as many moves as when they were in the military.
Don started out in warehousing for Bechtel and his supervisors saw that he had an aptitude for Safety, to which he was promoted. In 1979 Don went up to Hudson Hope, BC and worked for Atkinson Commonwealth on the Peace River Canyon Hydro-Electrical project. June of 1980 Don, Gail and their daughters moved to Edmonton AB where Don had a position with Cana until 1985. After that he worked for AKL/Kilborn which took him to Syncrude in Fort McMurray AB. Don began working for Fluor Canada in 1986 until he retired in 2002. February 1987 Gail and Mary-Anne moved to Regina SK, where Don was working on the Upgrader/Refinery at NewGrade Energy, then back to Edmonton where he worked on Petro-Canada, Alberta Envirofuels projects. Don and Gail moved to Red Deer AB in 1992 Union Carbide Canada and then in 1997 Don and Gail moved to Indonesia where they lived on the island of Lomback but Don’s work was on the island of Samatra at the Batu Hijau Copper Project. In 1998 they were back in the Edmonton where Don worked on MEG and finally the ABOSP. In his retirement years Don worked as a guard for the St. Albert RCMP detachment.
Don was first and foremost a family man and while dating Gail told her he wanted a big family. While he was in the Air Force the family took many vacations and road trips. While the family was in Germany their road trips included France, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark. Once back in Canada the family drove across Canada. After moving to Fort McMurray Don saved up and took the family for a big ski vacation to Jasper AB. Later in life Don and Gail took many road trips to visit Bernie and his family in Cranbrook, BC as well as in to the U.S. to visit David and his family in Green Bay WI, Des Moines, IA and Virginia Beach, VA.
Don had a great sense of humour and a charm about him, he always saw himself as a blue collar guy – a working man’s man and he took a sincere interest in their life and because of this people were at ease with him and fond of him. He was an avid reader and read a wide range of topics. Don was very generous and helped in any way he could. He helped many family and friends by helping find jobs. He was involved with the Lions Club and the Legion. He was his family’s biggest champion.
Don was proud of Canada’s accomplishments in the winter Olympics but the women’s Hockey team’s first gold medal was one of his favorites! While playing golf at an Edmonton course he met Hayley Wickenheiser, she had her gold medal on and Don was moved to tears.
In the last couple of years of Don’s life one of his greatest joys was putting a smile on your face regardless of whether he knew you or not.
The family would like to thank all the staff at Villa Caritas and Edmonton General for their care of Don since May. In lieu of flowers please donate to The Madden Deluca Foundation. http://www.themadd endelucafoundation.com/ Don did not want a traditional memorial so we are hosting an open house memorial for Don on March 4, 2017 1:00pm to 3:00 PM at the St. Albert Legion, 6 Tache Street, T8N 2S4. In the summer the family will be having a private gathering to spread his ashes.