Gander Heritage Memorial Park

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Monday, September 24, 2018

The Park says goodbye to its Honourary Patron Rev. Wesley Oake

Rest In Peace
Rev. Wesley Oake
We thank you sir for serving!

Rev. Wesley Oake
WW2 Veteran
166th Royal Newfoundland
Field Artillery Regiment

Family and friends, Gander residents young and old, fellow Veterans, fellow Legionnaires, along with The Park committee members, attended Rev. Oake's funeral service on Thursday September 20 2018. Committee members attending were Wilson Hoffe, Carol Walsh, Maxine Smith, Pat Brazil, Bill Kelly, Betty Ireland, Clyde and Betty Burt, and Lew Pearce.

Rev. Oake was a veteran of WWII having served with the 166th Royal Newfoundland Field Artillery Regiment overseas in England, Africa and Italy. He was ordained a minister with the United Church of Canada in 1965 and had ministries in Newfoundland and Ontario before semi-retiring in 1987. Born in Beaumont, Newfoundland, he was residing in Gander with his wife, Myrtle, where he was very active in the community. A great Rev. Oake bio was included in the church bulletin which I have included below.

Rev. Oake became the Honourary Patron for The Park in early 2013. He worked tirelessly to see The Park's construction to its conclusion. He met with businesses, individuals, attended various functions, all raising funds for The Park. His most well known fund raising event by far was his tandem parachute jump at age 92 from an airplane at 10,000 feet which raised some $35,000 for The Park. Thank you Rev. Oake Sir, The Park's Committee and The Park's fans will miss you!

There are a number of photos and stories here on this website about Rev. Oake. I had summarized them on my own blog site when I posted about Rev. OakeClicking here will take you directly to my own blog entry about Rev. Oake's passing.'s passing. Some of my blog post is repeated here also.

A fine considerate friendly outgoing gentleman has moved on. As soon as you met him you were his friend. Family and friends have always been very proud of him and his accomplishments and how lucky were we all to have had him and his guidance in our lives for all those oh so many years. Rev. Oake passed away peacefully on Sunday September 16 2018 at the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander at the wonderful age of 96. And Sir, we all thank you for serving!

As I moved away from Gander in 1986 I did not know or even know of Rev. Oake until he became the Honourary Patron for the Gander Memorial Heritage Park in early 2013. I was the webmaster for The Park's website at that time and met and chatted with him many times after that.

[Wednesday September 26 2018] - On Tuesday September 25 2018 we have this 1 minute video on Youtube titled Members statements, Reverend Wesley Oake. This is Scott Simms MP Gander and area giving a Member's Statement in the House of Commons Ottawa on the passing of, Reverend and Veteran, Wesley Oake. You can click hereClicking here will take you directly to the Youtube video and Scott Simms' member statement on the passing of Rev. Oake. to view this short video!

When Rev. Oake came to the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia for the tandem parachute event on Saturday June 21 2014 I attended the event along with a number of Gander people. The Park Chairperson Wilsom Hoffe also came up from Gander for the event where he also tandem jumped to become Rev. Oake's parachuting buddy. Some of the highlights follow.

Tandem parachute jump - Saturday June 21 2014

On Monday September 18 2018 CBC NL News published this news article titled Veteran, reverend, skydiver Wesley Oake dies at 96Clicking here will take you directly to the CBC News website and the article titled "Veteran, reverend, skydiver Wesley Oake dies at 96".

When Rev. Oake came to Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley on Saturday June 21 2014 for his skydiving fund raiser for The Park the only press on site was Colleen Jones from CBC Halifax. She and Rev. Oake hit it off as if they had known each other since who knows when. So on Monday September 18 2018 I tweeted Colleen the CBC NL News article to let her know of his passing. Colleen's response: "I do remember him - and sad to hear of his passing - but my how his legacy lives on. It was such a pleasure to have met him - may I have his spirit & energy." Steve Lawrence, the CBC cameraman that day, saw my tweet to Colleen. Steve's response: "Sorry to hear this. I shot this story with Rev Oake and Colleen. One of my favourite stories to do in my career so far."

Rev. Oake with Colleen and Steve from CBC Halifax
Saturday June 21 2014

I found a couple of the Gander Beacon Newspaper articles on Rev. Oake that will give you some more insight into this gentleman ...

The Church Bulletin ...

The Church Bulletin Insert - a Rev. Oake Bio ...

During the service Wilson Hoffe read a poem he had written for the occasion. Wilson is a long time Gander resident, President of his own company Wilson J Hoffe Professional Corporation, a Legionnaire, Chairperson of the Gander Heritage Memorial Park committee, and Rev. Oake's parachuting / skydiving buddy.

Goodbye Reverend Wes

God knew that you were getting tired
And a cure was not to be
He put his arms around you and whispered
Please come home to me
He didn’t like what you were going through
And he wanted to give you eternal rest
He needed your help in his beautiful garden
And he insisted on having the very best
When we looked at you sleeping today
You were peaceful, quiet and serene
There was no pain
And while our hearts ached to have you back
We could not bear the thought of you suffering again
You will always be present in our memories
Of thought, word and deeds
Your soft hands will guide us through
Particularly in times of need
Today we say our last goodbye
You have earned your eternal rest
We know that you will bring new life to God’s garden
Because you are the very best
You were give back to the dust today
Our parting words were placed upon your chest
Until we meet again Dear friend, may God be with you always
Goodbye Dear Comrade Reverend Wes.

Wilson Hoffe

Of the service and reception after, Carol Walsh wrote: "There was one emotional moment when Rev. Oake’s great-grandson Jaxon spoke of "Duck" – his name for his G-Grandfather. He related about how he attended the memorial services over the past years with Rev. Oake and laid a wreath at the Cenotaph, how his G-Grandfather came to watch him play hockey, etc. But the most touching moment was when Jaxon was presented with Rev. Oake’s medals by Carl Waterman at the Royal Canadian Legion reception."

Pat Dwyer Oake - Thursday September 20 2018
It's been a mixed emotion kind of day for our family. We said good bye to a wonderful man. Jaxon is the only great grand child so he has the honour of inheriting Wes' medals.
He also got up in church and spoke about his "Duck".
Very proud of you Jaxon and we will miss you Duck.

(My special thanks to Pat Dwyer Oake for the photos "yes you can use the photos we would be proud Thanks". Pat is Rev. Oake's daughter-in-law and Jaxon is her grandson, Rev. Wes, Terry, Brad, and Jaxon.)

I wish I myself had more photos of Rev. Oake ... the following are by Walt Gill.

In a Facebook post on Monday September 17 2018 Walt Gill of Gander wrote the following words and included 9 photos of Rev. Oake ...

RIP Rev. Wesley Oake .... a Man of Men Truly one of the most genuine humans you could ever wish to meet ... my condolences to the family ... I would like to share a few images I had the privilege to take of Rev. Oake over the years.


(Words and photos courtesy of Walt Gill)

(My sincerest thanks to Walt in allowing my using his words and photos he posted following Rev. Oake's passing!)

My thanks to The Park's committee secretary Carol Walsh for providing me with the scanned church bulletin of Rev. Oake's funeral service from Thursday September 20 2018 and also with a copy of Wilson's poem.

On behalf of The Park we thank Carol, Wilson, Walt, and especially Pat.

Gerard McCarthy / Webmaster / Monday, September 24, 2018

From Wilson Hoffe on Tuesday September 25 2018: "Gerard, My very best thanks you for the wonderful tribute to my great friend and Comrade Rev Wes. Seldom in one’s lifetime does one be so lucky to have a friend of such great stature. Always willing to help and always very steadfast in belief in his God. It was remarkable how strong his convictions were. He will be sadly missed but ever remembered as we proceed down our chosen paths of life. His legacy will guide us through any difficult times that we experience. God bless you Rev Wes.".