Peter Meredith Birch-Jones

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BIRCH-JONES, Peter Meredith Cdr RCN (Ret'd). September 23, 2009 Peter Birch-Jones died peacefully at the Palliative Care unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital surrounded by the love of his family, after a short battle with cancer. He is predeceased by his father and mother Hugh and Marjorie, his brother Ronald, and his loving and wonderful wife Sonia who died at home in November 2008 of the same illness. He leaves behind five children, Christopher, David, Jennifer (Suzzanne), Michael (Sandy) and Timothy (Pamela), two step-daughters Brooke McGuire (Bob) and Beverly Gruhn (Hermie) as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Peter was born in Estevan, Saskatchewan December 10, 1925 while his parents were en route from Japan to England. They stayed in English Bay Vancouver, followed by several West Coastal cities, finally settling in Victoria. He began his education at Monterey Public School then St. Michael's Prep School for boys, then on to Brentwood College. He entered the Royal Canadian Naval College at HMCS Royal Roads, graduating in the spring of 1945. Thus began his Navy career, including service in the Far East in HMS Duke Of York, HMS Implacable and HMS Cowdray in the Home Fleet. He returned to England for training at Royal Naval College Greenwich and training establishments in Portsmouth. He then returned to deployment in the Far East in HMCS Crescent to China and in HMCS Sioux in Korea. Then he went on to the UK for further training, where he met and married his first wife Angela Firth. They returned to Canada and settled in Victoria, with Peter serving in HMCS Naden, HMCS Venture and HMCS Crescent. He was then posted to Halifax on the staff of the Flag Officer Atlantic Command. Next he served as Executive Officer in HMCS Restigouche, and then on to Toronto, where he attended the RCAF Staff College. They moved to Ottawa where he was Director of Common Military Training at CFHQ. Subsequent postings included serving as the Commanding Officer of HMCS Margaree, then at Canadian Forces Staff College as Deputy Director. He returned to Victoria, serving in HMCS Provider, and then as Queen's Harbour Master Esquimalt, BC. In 1975, he met and married his beloved second wife, Sonia, and retired from the Navy settling in Victoria. He was subsequently employed by P.S. Ross International on a contract to the Government of the Shah of Iran for a year. Back in Victoria, he obtained his Masters of Public Administration from the University of Victoria, and embarked on a second career in the public service with the B.C. Ministry of Health, retiring as Director of Staff Development and Safety Programs in 1987. Sonia and Peter loved traveling to visit their extended family and many friends in North America, as well as to other parts of the world including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Turkey, China and Australia. Peter and Sonia moved to the south coast of Spain in 1987, settling in Mijas, Costa Del Sol. In 1990 they returned to Victoria, where Peter became president of the Royal United Services Institute of Vancouver Island, and joined the Board of Governors of Saint Michael's University School. In 1996 they moved to Qualicum Beach, where Peter was on the Board of the Oceanside Hospice, was a member of United Services Institute of Nanaimo (North Island), and was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion. They lived very happily until Sonia's passing in November 2008. A service of remembrance for family and friends will be held at 1:30 on November 21, 2009 at St. Anne's & St. Edmund's Anglican Church, 407 Wembley Road, Parksville, B.C. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Peter's memory be made to the Oceanside Hospice Qualicum Beach, or the B.C. Cancer Society. 562402
Published in The Times Colonist on Sept. 26, 2009
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