OLMSTED, Earl Alexander July 22, 1914 - November 10, 2008 Retired Lieutenant Colonel, RCA Former National Secretary, Army Benevolent Fund Earl Olmsted would have said "keep it short" but how do you condense 94 extraordinary years into a few paragraphs. It's very fitting that he died on the eve of Remembrance Day because he was one of the few remaining survivors of the D-Day landing on Normandy Beach, World War II. He rarely spoke about the war but he instilled in his four children a fierce love of Canada. When his childhood sweetheart and wife, Marjorie (together for 76 years - married 67 years), passed away a year ago, we were advised by the compassionate and caring staff of the Claremont Retirement Residence that he might follow quickly. He died peacefully in his rocking chair and felt blessed and honoured to have so much attention from his children: nightly "fireside chats" with his son Bruce of whom he was immensely proud, daily visits by his beloved daughter Eleanor who worked tirelessly to make his life full and meaningful until the end, and his loving daughter Valerie visited from Calgary several times a year and called twice each day. Most of all he adored his five grandchildren, Jana, Tally, Lani, Lindsay and Geoffrey, and he will rest peacefully knowing his best trait - common decency - is alive and well in all of them. A recent highlight was the opportunity to meet his new great grand baby twins, Nadia and Jalen and show them off proudly at the Claremont. Dad was an only child born in 1914 to parents who doted on him. They were thrilled that he was the first member of his extended family to receive a university degree from St. Patrick's College. Earl was particularly proud that all five of his grandchildren have attended university and that two chose to attend Queen's University. Dad had always wanted to go to Queens himself but the depression prevented it. Just after graduating he enlisted in the Army (artillery) in 1939 and went overseas for six years. He landed on D-Day as an officer and was among the first wave of soldiers to liberate Holland at the end of the war. Earl chose to continue a career in the armed forces, with postings that allowed him to experience everything from A-bomb testing in Nevada, Bedouins in Egypt, to polar bears in Fort Churchill. His military training reinforced his stoicism and his war experience helped frame a lifelong calm demeanor. One year, long, long ago when his children still lived at home, Dad packed his p.j.'s into his suitcase, left for work as usual, and checked himself into the hospital with a bleeding ulcer (an ailment that hospitalized him for six months after the war). This was in keeping with his nature - keep your complaints and suffering to yourself! Staying true to himself, five years ago the reverse happened. At the age of 90, after three days in hospital following open heart surgery, he checked himself out early wearing his pajamas. Earl was of that breed that is seldom encountered these days. An endangered species exemplifying patience, thrift, fairness and hard work. Admittedly shy, he was married to a woman with a wonderful sense of humour. He has been George Burns to her Gracie Allen for over half a century and often we would find them in their chairs laughing over lives well lived. They loved reminiscing about summer vacations spent at Red Pine Camp, Golden Lake, Ontario (Mom and Dad were campers for almost 60 years!). Fun, friends, inter-generational fellowship, and wholesome values were the bonds that brought us together for family reunions each year. When asked the secret to their happy years together he said "keep your mouth shut". This kindly dignified chap was indeed a man of few words, but "chap" was one of his favourites. Old fashioned values of honesty, loyalty and integrity are rare, but he lived by them each day of his 94 years. When he turned 90, Eleanor wanted to throw him a party. Being a practical man he vetoed it - "who would come? I've outlived all my friends!"...Not true. He made many new ones in the last five years while living in the Claremont where Marjorie and Earl were cherished by staff and residents. Dad reluctantly gave up their independent living among dear friends in Amberwood Village, Stittsville only when reassured be would still be able to play bridge each day! Already greatly missed by his children and grandchildren, some very special people who were important to Dad are: Noreen Langdon, Rita Salter, Ted & Muriel Langdon, Alan & Waveney Salter, Dr. Nady El-Guebaly, Samy El-Guebaly, Dr. Ray Osborne, Jamie Pine, Judy Ketcheson, Marilyn El-Guebaly, Bill Salter Jr., Mary & King Chapman, Andrea and Albert Peters, Doug & Jean Salter, Betty & Gordon Campbell, Loris Jordan, Red Piners and lifelong friends in Amberwood and the Ottawa Valley, and fellow residents and bridge partners at the Claremont. Special thanks to the exemplary staff at the Claremont, particularly Barbara, and to the wonderful Dr. Nam at Sunnybrook Hospital. A book of condolences will be available for signatures at Tubman Funeral Home, Westboro Chapel, 403 Richmond Road, Ottawa. A celebration of his life will be held in April, 2009, at Capital Memorial Gardens in Ottawa. Dad was a nice guy and our hero.