October 28, 1928 – October 24, 2020
Verne passed away peacefully in Parksville at the age of 92 with jazz music playing softly in his room at Stanford Senior Center, October 18, 2020.
Verne was the youngest of 6 children, born on a farm in Oliver B.C. At the young age of 16 Verne was industrious, he built a homemade contraption on his truck for spreading oil on dusty driveways for a small fee, and he called his enterprise the “Dust Eaters”.
In Oliver 1956 he helped invent and build the first crane called “Girette” used for picking fruit in the Okanogan orchards. His first car was a 1918 McLaughlin Buick that he drove for years with no fenders or body, he built a flat deck for it, and he and his brothers drove 2 times to Vancouver over the near impossible roads of that time, earning a picture in the Vancouver Sun for such a feat.
Verne had visions of gears and wheels in his head and in his younger days went to Vanderhoof where he became an authorized mechanic practically overnight working on the Kenny Dam. He logged in North Fort Saint James and spent 4 years as an engineer on tug boats on the Athabaska, Great Slave and McKenzie Rivers.
In the late 50’s Verne returned to Oliver and married his first wife, Brenda Hall. In 1960 now a father, he moved his small family towards the coast, selling pots and pans; a daughter was born, and a year later arrived in Parksville in 1963.
Verne started his concrete operation, and from a very modest beginning, with 2 shovels and a wheel barrow, within 10 years “Island Precast Concrete” grew to a major company with 3 trucks with hydraulic cranes on them and 12 employees.
I.P.C.built all of its own precast forms and municipal governments and highways all over Vancouver Island bought his products. With the birth of another daughter; a home was purchased in French Creek where he built a hobby farm and a pond that the neighborhood kids learned to skate on. “The Gov” sold I.P.C. in the 80’s and bought and developed the 4 acres beside it building the Island’s first Mini Warehouses , “Arbutus Industrial Park” and Huntley Road.
During Verne’s life he got the flying bug, built the first hanger at the Qualicum Beach Airport and started an Airplane business too. He worked hard at upgrading and lengthening the runway in the 70’s and 80’s. He owned several aircrafts and he flew hundreds of miles around B.C, Alberta and as far away as Baja Mexico, Wisconsin and Nevada.
His favorite trips were flying with his buddies to the famous Pan Philip Fish Camp in Chilcotin B.C. and back to the Okanogan Valley with his family. At the same time Verne had one more enterprise up his sleeve, and this brought him back to where he started by servicing the sewage treatment plants he had sold with a pump truck he built. The company was “Arrowsmith Sanitation”.
In 1993 Verne married his second wife, Doris. He sold the Warehouses and Industrial Park and his next new”bug”became”Rail Riding”and old cars. He built a rail riding speeder contraption and had several adventures on the Kettle Valley Railway before the tracks were all lifted. He used to wait too for the Island Day Liner to go past, and then quickly slip the homemade contraption on the tracks and off he went.
Verne was involved in many things; He played the trombone in the community band, a member of the Parksville Lions club, President of PGOSA (he built and looked after the pancake wagon), one of the founding members of the Parksville Curling Club, he skied until he was 72, curled until he was 90, and golfed until 91.
In the late 60’s Verne would pick rocks off the Parksville Community Park field before the kids could play soccer, and later he got lights installed on the newly grassed field. Verne lived in San Pariel for 25 years and actively initiated the pathway on Plumber Road, through the estuary, to the ocean and passionately advocated for pathways and boardwalks for the safety and pleasure of residents alike.
Verne remained feeling lucky and would often say “I’m a lucky lucky dog”. He was thankful and he loved his family and friends completely. He loved life, all its beauty and all that it offered…. Adventurer, entrepreneur, developer, pilot, and friend.
Survived by wife (Doris), children (Ward-Tracy, Louise-Brett, Janet-Bert)(Ann, Karen, Dave-Julie) Grandchildren (Graham-Tricia, Kayla, Nathan, Tyler-Cristi, Sarah-Brad, Evan) (Sean-Rebecca, Vanessa, Keifer, Mariah, Natasha, Jon) Great grandchildren (Pearl, Calista, Quinn, Jade, Clayton)( Adeline, Everly) Brother (Rex).
Many thanks to the care given to him buy the careful caring staff at Stanford he called his “sweetie pies” and “good men”….for that we are very grateful. As per Verne and Doris’s wishes there will be no service. A bench will be place somewhere on the Plumber Road Path in Verne’s name to enjoy and remember.
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