Vernon Lloyd Stoney died peacefully at Shuswap Lake General Hospital on Oct. 10, 2010. He was 84.
Vernon was born on Dec. 19, 1925 in Port Mann, BC, the third child of Ethel Medd and Harold Stoney. He spent many happy afternoons with his brothers at their favourite swimming hole in the Fraser River, challenging himself to longer times under the water. He worked on the family farm, enjoyed playing the piano, played trumpet in the New Westminster Salvation Army Band and was thrilled to ‘leap the logs’ while working with ‘Pop’ Forrest’s Tugboat Towing Co (‘Pop’ was Dr. Eve Gulliford’s father). In 1942, he joined the Army, working as riveter on fighter aircraft and, in 1946, became one of the driver/mechanics for the snowmobile Expedition Muskox out of Churchill, MB. After the war, he returned home, farming, hunting and attending community dances where his Dad was caller.
At one of these dances he met Rosella and courted her into the spring of 1950. The Fraser River flooded badly that year and there were miles of dikes frantically built to keep the rising water at bay. On June 22, late in the day, the dike along the Port Mann peat bog flats broke. He was on the dike repair team that night, one sand bag at a time: hoist it, dive deep against the river’s invasion, work the bag into place, rise to the surface for much needed air, hoist another bag and down into the black turbulence. He worked all night, refusing to rest until every bag was in place, and the dike was secure in the morning hours of June 23. He raced home to shower, got into his Sunday suit, and arrived at the church just in time to marry his sweetheart.
Rosella and Vern settled down to family life in Surrey, BC. He enjoyed many hunting trips up into the Coquihalla River country with friends, Harry and Clifford Brown, bringing home meat to his growing family. Rosella became an expert at cooking up Nature’s bounty from the wild. In 1958, he and friend, Pete Pollack, began a truck coach building company, Holidaycraft, where Vern excelled in every aspect of the process. He could fix anything and, if he couldn’t get a part to repair something, he would make it himself.
This remarkable ability served him well when he and Rosella moved their nine children to a farm in Silver Creek, BC in 1964. Farm equipment is always breaking down, especially when you need it. He had lost his sight in one eye in an accident some years previously. But he rose to the challenge, hunting the hills of Silver Creek, building more farm buildings, putting up hay for his milk cows and goats, and tending the large gardens.
Over the next twenty five years, he and Rosella also built a Valley Comfort wood stove and Jari mower business. There are many folks in the Shuswap who benefited by his determination and creativity in putting a wood furnace ANYWHERE. The stories abound.
Like everyone in those days, he pitched in where help was needed in the community; fighting the Paxton Valley fire, evacuating neighbours during the Gleneden fire, and building and modifying the furniture for the children at Silver Creek library where Rosella worked.
His eyesight challenges continued through the 1990’s with the deterioration of his remaining eye. More and more, he needed Rosella’s help to continue to do the farm work. He remained undaunted even when his freedom was severely curtailed with the revoking of his driver’s license. When family members were unable to drive him somewhere, he would commandeer friends or neighbours. A last resort was hitch-hiking. He was ever up for a challenge.
He loved farm life, animals, and Nature. He was a great observer of the heavens, charting the sunspot patterns for many years. He and Rosella were continually curious about natural healing remedies for plants, animals and people. His Irish ability to tell stories and his witty way with words enlivened many a family gathering. We shall miss you, Dad.
Vernon was predeceased by his brothers, Percy, Cecil, and Gordon and sister, Gwen. He was also predeceased by his son Mark in 2005.
Vernon will be lovingly remembered by his daughters; Gail of Salmon Arm, Lynn (Keith) Andersen of Prince George, Carol (Forrest) Holden of Bellingham, WA, Helen (Glen) Oud of Lacombe, AB, and his sons, Rob (Merry Ann) of Dewinton, AB, Lance (Penny) of Salmon Arm, Gary (Cheryl) of Okotoks, AB, and Tim of Salmon Arm. He will also be missed by his sister Margaret Warren of Princeton, BC, 26 grandchildren, 2 great- grandchildren, many extended family members on both sides and a host of friends and neighbours.
The Stoney family would like to thank Dr. Warren Bell, Johanna and Janey for their dedicated care of Mom and Dad throughout their life here, Ambulance attendants, SLGH and the patience and kindness with which the 2nd floor staff cared for Dad in those final weeks.
A Celebration of Life Service for Vernon and Rosella is planned for the long weekend in May, 2011 at First United Church. Particulars will be posted in this newspaper in April, 2011.
Arrangements entrusted to FISCHER’S FUNERAL SERVICES, Salmon Arm, (250) 833-1129, Email condolences and share memories at www.fischersfuneralservices.com.