Gander Heritage Memorial Park

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

JUST REMINISCING ……. by Pat (Power) Brazil

As we sit here on Little Cobbs Pond, looking at the ducks - pretty sure they are the babies from last year, I can't help but ponder on the day our small committee took on the Reunion of all early children of Gander held in the summer of 2010. Protestants and Catholics together - first in our history! We have had reunions of individual schools, but as far as I know never both Catholics and Protestants with the one combined Reunion.

Our very small committee of Carol Mercer Walsh, Joy Mercer Janes, Betty and Clyde Burt, Bill Kelly (former teacher of St. Paul's), Maxine Wicks Smith, Wilson Hoffe, Roy Sceviour (who was the rock of our committee, but so sad he had a stroke just months into the meetings and since has passed away - what a great loss!), Betty Ireland and Pat Power Brazil. We had a plan but little did we know it was a big undertaking but well worth the work!

We reminisced with people not seen in 50 years -- the Fitzgerald's from Balbo Street had a big show from their family, Leo hung out with them on the old army side when he was soooo young - in particular, Steve, Lorne, Myles and Geraldine; the Malone sisters, Sharron and Sheila added to the fun; my brother George - good friends with Gerry Malone who unfortunately couldn't make the reunion; Marion and Lorraine Wheeler (their brother Warnie - another friend of Leo's was too ill to attend the reunion). So good to see Brian Goff, Louise Oates, Morley and Kevin Smith (all the girls had such a crush on Kevin, he never gave us a look), Hudson and Bonnie Ramsay, Gracie and Dorothy Ricketts, Judy and Jim Garland, Cathy Hogan, the Coughlin girls (still looking so good), Rosemary Myrick, Ed Locke, the Maloney girls, Dave Robertson, Jeanette, Leo and Marie Lannon, Kathryn and Deedee Lannon, and so many I can't remember off the top of my head. I'm sure everyone remembers (Elias) John Hollohan and the Reunion song he composed and sang! A special thanks from me to Gerard McCarthy. Gerard and I graduated together. He is relentless in the work he has done for us.

What a time we had – the tour of the old Army Side being a most memorable day and the "grand finale" at the old Terminal. (Ross Patey couldn't make the reunion but he visited us at the terminal. Thanks Ross for your very generous donation. Hopefully when we have a grand opening we will see you back home again.) Then the weekend ended with the emotional Memorial Service officiated by Rev. Marion Pardy, Rev. Bill Noel, Sister Brendan Lynch and Sister Betty Quinlan.

But even before the Reunion was over our little group had made a commitment to leave a legacy from our generation to future generations and had decided on a statue of the famous Newfoundland dog "Pal" also known as Sgt. Gander and thus came the conception of the Gander Heritage Memorial Park.

We were at the site of the new Park today to accept a very generous donation and Betty Burt put it all in perspective when she said "Pat, the average age of our committee is 70 and even older". We've come a long way baby since 2010 when we planned the three-day Reunion and now we have raised over $357,000 of the needed $450,000 - not bad for a few old timers! Thank you so much to family and friends who have so generously donated to the Park.

I am so excited with Reverend Wesley Oake coming on board as our Honourary Patron. We are so honoured to have him, a World War II decorated veteran. He will be 91 on May 31st and plans to parachute from an airplane at 9,100 ft., one hundred for every one of his 91 years. If anyone is interested in making a pledge to Rev. Wesley Oake's brave jump or making a donation to our cause, please visit our site or contact me or one of our committee members.

The Winged Victory is presently with Morgan MacDonald for a very extensive repair. Visit his web site at The Newfoundland Bronze Foundry. Along with the statue of Sgt. Gander and his soldier/handler, we will be adding to the park with the 125th Newfoundland Squadron of the Royal Air Force Wall of Honour, other monuments to the Ferry Command, a Compassion Monument of 9/11 and plaques commemorating past aviation disasters which occurred at Gander. Wouldn't it be great if all the 2010 Reunioners were here for the Grand Opening of the Park in September 2014 ---- Just my thoughts!

Pat Brazil, Committee Member / May 8, 2013

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