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On Saturday, October 15, 2016, Arthur (Art) Haskell Thomson, of Perryvale / Athabasca, passed away after a long life well lived. Arthur was born in Marwayne, AB in 1935 to David G.S. Thomson of British Guiana and Heinsburg and Lily Haskell of Metiskow and Heinsburg.
Art will be deeply missed by his wife, Aggie (Agatha Latoski) of 54 years and their children: David (Renee) of Edmonton, Shelley of Calgary, Leanne of Edmonton, Kris (Kelly) of San Diego. He leaves 3 grandchildren: Sarah, Matthew, and Ella.
He leaves behind two brothers, Hugh (Vicky) and George, one sister, Dee (Alan) Pankiw, sister-in-law, Connie, along with aunts Mildred Sinclair and Elva Hancock. He leaves behind many relatives, the greatest neighbours one could ever wish for, and life long friends.
Art was predeceased by his parents, one brother Charlie, sisters-in-law Carol and Darlene, numerous relatives and uncle Sir Arthur Peregrine Thomson.
Art met his wife while they were teaching at the Frog Lake Indian Reserve in 1961. He and Aggie went onto teach wonderful students in Fort Chipewyan, Wabasca, Edmonton, Hobbema (Maskwacis), and finally Athabasca. Art taught primarily elementary grade school, and spent time as a Guidance counsellor, Industrial Arts teacher, and school principal.
Raising a family was Art's priority. He was proud of his children and was dedicated to teaching them and encouraging them to try new things. He spent many evenings driving to and from hockey, 4-H, curling, piano lessons, band practices, basketball, dance classes, drama rehearsals in Athabasca and Colinton. With the next generation, he always looked forward to spending time with Matthew and Sarah and teaching them about the outdoors, and most recently, how to drive. Art was delighted to have been able to hold his newest grandchild, Ella, who was born earlier this year.
Art and Aggie shared the gift of hospitality. Their home was a place where the coffee was always on, on the farm, in Athabasca, and in their winter home in Sun Vista, Yuma AZ. For more than 40 years, they would host large gatherings with friends at Christmas. September long weekends meant offering supper and fellowship to visiting fiddlers and their families. And they planned and hosted an outdoor reception for their son Dave's wedding.
He loved being outdoors and managing their grain and cattle farm near Meanook. As a child born in the Great Depression, it was important to him to raise a family that would be self-sufficient and to pass on the skills necessary to survive.
We will remember Art for his kind, conservative manner. He lived with personal high standards regarding honesty, integrity and loyalty. He was a man who could fit in comfortably in most social settings. Art really enjoyed good conversations and good humour. He was known for great philosophical discussions and was admired for his critical thinking skills.
Art obtained his Bachelor of Education degree in Industrial Arts. He was also presented a membership with Phi Delta Kappa for writing school books about the Athabasca region.
Art was a talented woodworker and craftsman and spent many hours in his shop. His projects included house renovations, holiday camper, industrial skid shack and a family built cabin. In the late 1970s, he was commissioned to lead the conversion of a two room school house into the current town library in Athabasca. As years passed, he became known for fine wood craftsman under the name Whimsy Woods.
Music was in Art's heart, playing for many years with the Rockbusters and the Gemtones, and organizing many musical events in the Athabasca region. Art was a founding president for Whispering Hills Community Organization and he was a president and director with Alberta Society of Fiddlers. For years, Art organized the popular old-time fiddling contests in town - and Art never played the fiddle.
Involvement in the community was important. He was involved with the Meanook Community Club, Baseline Rural Crime Watch and others. Additionally, he was dedicated to fundraising efforts with WHCMA. Over the years, they donated thousands of dollars for various projects, like the Swimming Pool, Multiplex, Seniors Centre, Pleasant Valley Lodge, Athabasca Music Festival, student scholarships for Fiddle Camps and Camp Calvin and many more.
Art is now organizing music events in heaven, and will be ready when we arrive.
A Funeral Mass was held on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at the St. Gabriel's Roman Catholic Rectory in Athabasca, Alberta.
Those who wish memorial donations may be made to the Athabasca Healthcare Auxiliary Association or the Edmonton Cross Cancer Institute.
Funeral Arrangements in care of Athabasca Community Chapel – Christina Gobel – 780-675-3996.
Athabasca Community Chapel
Athabasca, AB T9S 1M7
Published in The Athabasca Advocate on Oct. 25, 2016