Hans Billy ‘Swede’ Larsen, CD, Major (Ret’d)

February 24, 1929 – September 8, 2021
“Swede”, a kind, generous, loving and loved gentle soul, passed away peacefully with family by his side at the Valleyhaven Retirement Community in Chilliwack BC.
Son of Dorthea and Thorvald Larsen, Swede was of Danish ancestry but the nickname Swede stuck nevertheless.
He was predeceased by an infant brother Dan and, in 1970 by his first wife June.
Mourning his loss are Caron, his wife of 50 years, his children, Kathleen of Lacombe, AB, Bruce (Sandy) of Edmonton, AB, Dana (Mike) of Mallorytown, ON, Nancy (Billy) of Ottawa, ON, grandchildren Jason(Alicia), Kristina, John, Scarlett, Mitchell (Katherine), Kelsey, Katherine (Ross), Dan (Kim), Dave, Jack and great-grandchildren Sarah and Emma.
Swede was devoted to his family, to his many lifelong friends and to his music. He was generous and kind, a skilled pilot, mentor to many and a dedicated RCAF officer, Mason and Shriner. He had a wonderful sense of humour and could entertain all and sundry with hilarious telling of tall tales.
Born and raised in Chilliwack, his high school pursuits included scrambling up many local formidable mountains and learning to play the saxophone well enough to be in a dance band. During the Second World War, the Larsens expanded their family with the addition of three London blitz ‘orphans’ whom Swede considered his ‘foster’ siblings and who remained lifelong friends.
After high school graduation, Swede left home and joined the RCAF in 1948 becoming a Radio Technician. Within two years he had married June and was accepted into pilot training. He earned his ‘Wings’ and became a fighter pilot and, on his first tour, flew Canadair F 86 Sabres at RCAF 3 Wing, Zweibrucken, West Germany.
Following his return from Germany he was posted to the Overseas Ferry Unit in St Hubert, Quebec which delivered new F 86 aircraft to RCAF squadrons in France and Germany.
Next came North Bay and a tour with the local Ground Observer Corps Unit and the Recruiting Unit, followed by a posting to 414 AW(F) Squadron flying the CF100 and CF101.
A tour with the USAF at Goose Air Base, Labrador came next and that was followed by a posting to CF101s at 409 AW(F) Sqn, Comox in 1966. Then came a return to North Bay serving at Air Defence Headquarters as Command Flight Safety Officer and a posting back to 414 Squadron.
In 1972 Swede married Caron, an Air Force officer and in 1976 he followed her to CFB Trenton and worked at Air Transport Group Headquarters until 1977 when he retired. Moving to Ottawa he served with the Reserves until 1982. Then for several years he worked for a logistics support business.
Swede was a staunch supporter of SPAADS (Sabre Pilots Association of the Air Division Squadrons), as both a member and local organizer.
His saxophone lay dormant during his military life until the posting to Trenton where he played in the base band. Upon Caron’s retirement in 1988 from the CAF, they moved to Chilliwack where Swede continued his ‘musical career’, playing in the Community Band. He joined the Legion, the Air Force Association as well as the Masonic Order and the Shriners and played in their Concert Band.
Later he also played with a small group of musicians leading the musical side of worship at the New Life Church in Chilliwack. His love of music and dancing prompted him to also join the Chilliwack Rhythm Reelers and Dancing Shadows.
Throughout most of his military career he travelled extensively, not always by choice, and, after retirement he and Caron took many cruises and trips to Europe, South America, Hawaii, and the Caribbean, (pretty well always by choice!). Keen curlers, they made many trips to bonspiels in Switzerland, made many friends and even won a few prizes, returning to the same bonspiel ten times, but never learning to yodel!
Donations in Swede’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Society of BC, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC, the BC Cancer Agency or a charity of one’s choice.
Service of Interment will take place at the Chilliwack Cemetery on Little Mountain at 2 pm April 1, 2022 for family and invited friends. At 3 pm there will be coffee and light refreshments for others wishing to help celebrate Swede’s life and meet some of the family at Carman United Church Hall on Vedder Road at Webb Ave.

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