ALAN BRADLEY SELIN
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August 21, 1934 - August 4, 2013
Alan Bradley Selin died on August 4, 2013 at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, age 78.
Alan was born in Wadena, Saskatchewan, the first child of Einar and Wilma Selin. He attended numerous country schools in the Wadena, Kuroki and Margo areas where his father taught. His early interests were reading and learning in general, hockey and softball. He spent a great deal of time as a child on the farm with his grandparents, Elmer and Ella Headington.
Alan attended Normal School (Teachers' College) in Saskatoon in 1952-53. He started teaching in one-room country schools in rural Saskatchewan just after his 19th birthday. In 1957 he moved to his first town school at Preeceville, where he met his future wife, Eleanor Campbell. They were married in 1961.
In 1962 Alan completed his Bachelor of Education Degree at the University of Saskatchewan. That same year Alan and Eleanor moved to Biggar, where Alan taught social studies and served as the vocational guidance counselor and the yearbook faculty advisor at Biggar Composite High School (BCHS), where he would remain until his retirement in 1989. Alan and Eleanor's children, Shannon, Heather and Richard, were born and raised in Biggar.
Alan was fascinated by history, particularly Saskatchewan and Canadian history, the role of Canada in the two world wars, and the American Civil War. He taught with a dedication, animation and knowledge that prompted his students to become interested in history. He loved to talk to older members of the community about their war experiences and brought these personal anecdotes into his teaching.
Alan's students had great respect and affection for him, due in part to his strict control of the classroom and his often self-deprecating sense of humour. Alan took a keen interest in the future of all his students and encouraged them to pursue further education or training whenever possible.
In 1975 a group of former students collected donations to enable Alan to visit the places he taught about, particularly the battlefields of Europe. In 1977 Alan took the family to Europe. He took pictures of the gravestones of many Saskatchewan men killed in the war and gave the photos to surviving family members, many of whom had never had the chance to see their loved one's grave. Alan also led a trip of students to London and Paris and surrounding areas in 1979. After Alan's retirement, Alan and Eleanor continued to travel extensively.
BCHS and its successor, Biggar Central School, remained part of Alan's community throughout his life. He had been the faculty supervisor for the graduation ceremony almost from the year he arrived at BCHS, and attended every graduation ceremony up to and including 2012, 50 in total. He maintained close friendships with many former students and teaching colleagues up until his death. He was a local counsellor for the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation and he regularly attended retired teachers' functions.
Alan was involved in many community organizations in Biggar, including leadership roles in the Lions' Club, the United Church, the Biggar Museum and Gallery, and Donor's Choice. He served on the board of the Greenhead Health District and helped found the Biggar and District Traumatic Events Response Team (TERT). Alan was active in the Biggar Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society and researched various national archives to find information about his Swedish and American family roots.
Alan and Eleanor moved to Saskatoon in 2004 and became active members of Grosvenor Park United Church. Alan continued to pursue a longstanding interest in fairness and equality by serving on the church's Affirming Ministry committee, which helps ensure inclusion and justice for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Alan and Eleanor were regular participants in Saskatoon's annual Pride Parade.
A more tragic defining feature of Alan's life, hidden from many who knew him, was his struggle with clinical depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These terrible diseases placed a tremendous burden on him and his family, and kept him from living his life to the fullest.
Alan found immense joy in his grandchildren Noah, Anthea and Elysia, who meant the world to him. He was very sad that he was too ill to travel to Noah's high school graduation in Vancouver in June.
Alan is survived by his wife of nearly 52 years, Eleanor; children Shannon Selin (Leslie Marsh), Heather Selin (David McDaniel) and Richard; grandchildren Noah, Anthea and Elysia Feaver; siblings Lorna (Gar) Williams, Ron (Laurie), and Muriel (Ivan) Ramsden and their families; sisters-in-law Edna Little and Margaret Campbell (Bob Hurlburt); and numerous cousins. Alan's family, friends, and the generations of students whom he influenced will sadly miss him.
A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, August 17 at 2:00 pm at Grosvenor Park United Church, 407 Cumberland Ave. S., Saskatoon.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Crocus Co-op, 135 Ave. B South, Saskatoon SK, S7M 1M2, www.crocuscooperative.org, or to Grosvenor Park United Church, 407 Cumberland Ave. S., Saskatoon SK, S7H 2L3, www.grosvenorparkunitedchurch.ca.
Arrangements in care of Martens Warman Funeral Home, (306) 934-4888.
Published in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix from Aug. 14 to Aug. 15, 2013