THOMASSON, Harold Oliver (Tommy)
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1921 - 2014
Tommy, as he was known to all, went "gently into that good night" Sunday evening, January 26 in the peaceful and loving warmth of the Palliative Care floor of Grace Health Centre, Toronto. His wife, Islay, was at his bedside.
Born in Ulverston, Lancashire, England, Tommy came to Canada in 1941 to train with the RAF, graduating as a Navigator at Mount Hope, ON, and as an Observer, at Debert, NS. 1942 found him on active flying duty as a Navigator with RAF Coastal Command for anti-submarine patrols. Wartime exploits saw his aircraft shot up in a U-Boat attack, subsequently crashing on the runway. A month later, he plunged into the sea near Gibraltar from which only he and the pilots survived. He then moved to long range weather flights over the North Atlantic. In 1945 he returned to Canada as a Flight Lieutenant and Navigator Instructor at Rivers, Manitoba. He married his Canadian wartime sweetheart, Dorothy Lella Louise Parke of Hamilton, who predeceased him in 1989. Following his R.A.F. years, Tommy made Canada his home and one of the delights of his life was receiving his Canadian Citizenship.
In 1945, he began an ascending career with the Hamilton Spectator, from a Dispatch Clerk to National Advertising Manager to Personnel Manager, to Business Manager. In 1970, he was sent to the Calgary Herald with subsequent promotions to General Manager in 1977. He orchestrated the move from the downtown plant to the current location. In 1982, he returned to Toronto as Vice-President of Human Resources, Southam Inc. Upon his retirement in 1986, he returned to Calgary, Alberta.
Tommy was a valued member of his beloved Downtown Rotary Club of Calgary, and an active member of the historic Ranchmen's Club. He belonged to the Chaine des Rotisseurs/Calgary Bailliage as Vice Charge de Presse, Honoraire and Commandeur, for many years. Another affiliation was the Commanderie des Bordeaux of Calgary.
In 1992 he married Islay Wyckham of Oakville, Ontario and the two subsequently moved back to Toronto to their much loved "condo in the sky" in Bloor/Yorkville.
Tommy is mourned by his two sons, Robert, of Calgary, his wife Violet, and two grandsons Anthony and Timothy, and by son James of Hinton, Alberta, his wife Carol and granddaughters Laura, Charlotte and Mary. He will be missed also by stepson Peter Kingsman and stepdaughter Caroline Kingsman, both of Toronto.
With much gratitude to staff and nurses at the Grace Hospital, and special thanks to Dr. Beverly Smith, Dr. Kate Whitehead, Chaplain Sharon Hayward and Social Worker Jodi-Zaitz Dubin. Thanks also for the kindness of staff and caregivers at Wellesley Central Place, Toronto.
Donations to The Salvation Army, Toronto Grace Health Centre, 650 Church Street, Toronto M4Y 2GS (Phone 416-925-2251; Fax 416-925-3211; www.torontograce.org).
Family and Friends are invited to a Memorial Reception at Eden Brook Funeral Home (corner of Lower Springbank Road and 17 Avenue S.W., Calgary) on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.
Published in The Calgary Herald from Feb. 16 to Feb. 21, 2014