CHAPLIN, Harry William One of Kelowna’s pioneer sons, passed away peacefully early on December 14, 2010. Born in Kelowna on February 10, 1915, the youngest son of Harry Valentine Chaplin and Ethel Mercy (Raymer) Chaplin, the eldest daughter of Harry Raymer, Kelowna’s first Mayor, Harry grew up on the family farm and orchard currently known as Trader’s Cove. No phones or electricity at that time, but if a flag was put up on the family wharf, the S.S. Sicamous or other lake travelling vessels would stop to pick up or deliver mail, supplies, or visitors. Harry loved the lake and animals, especially family dogs and pigs, defending the latter as “the cleanest animals if they were given the opportunity to be clean.” He had to start school early at the age of four so that there were enough children to keep the school on the hill above Bear Creek open. Later schooling took place in town at the brick schoolhouses built by his grandfather, and later attended by two of his daughters for elementary schooling. While living in town to attend school, Harry had great times with teenage friends, and enjoyed telling tales of travelling window to window to visit girlfriends on the outside of the brick buildings opposite City Park along with friend Jim Brown. They would often spend Saturday nights running Kelowna’s early radio station, owned by the Brown family. When not living in town to go to school, Harry worked on the family farm. Stories include trips all the way up to Bald Range in bare feet to collect livestock, rowing all the way to town, and in high water days, rowing up St. Paul Street and up to where First United Church now stands.
Harry volunteered to serve in WW II, trained across Canada, was posted at the Pacific and the Atlantic shores as well as at Niagara Falls. In training in Saskatoon in 1942, he met Elizabeth (Betty) Maude Froste, and after courting for two months, when they learned on October 15 that he was to be posted overseas on October 19, they married on the 17th. Overseas, with the 23rd Manitoba Dragoons, with the rank of Lieutenant Harry commanded an armoured car company on postings in the European Theatre for three and a half years. He rarely talked about his war experiences, but had the honour of being “mentioned in dispatches,” receiving medals which he never displayed until this last year in Brookhaven, where our veterans are encouraged to allow themselves to be honoured. His daughters remember, throughout their growing up years, many visits from fellow officers and army buddies bringing their families to meet “the man who saved our lives so many times.” Harry completed his Major’s papers, but when the opportunity suddenly came up to be on the first ship home, he left military life, although remaining in The Reserves for many years.
As Harry’s father had passed away, when Harry returned home he took over running the farm, but a fire in 1952 destroyed the orchard and Harry moved his young family into town to support them. The majority of his adult years he worked for S.M Simpson’s Limited, first as a timber cruiser and finally as Timber Records Supervisor for the company, then owned by Crown Zellerbach. He was an outdoorsman, enjoying fishing and hunting and family camping trips. Harry had to retire early to care for his wife. Betty was stricken and diagnosed with what later was known to be Alzheimer’s Disease. Although he was told by the neurologist to “put her in a home and forget her,”Harry cared for her at home for several years, well beyond the time when one person could do it all. Starting in 1981, he was a founding Director of The Interior Alzheimer Foundation, and often provided postage out of his own pocket for the fledgling family support newsletter.
Harry was an avid reader, a life-long learner who encouraged education. He loved nature, and living by the lake, first on the family homesite, then spending summers on his Peachland lakeshore before settling on south Abbott in later years to enjoy the lake again. In 2000 he moved back to his roots of pine-forested hills in his home on a daughter’s Bear Creek property, before spending his last nine months at Brookhaven care home in West Kelowna.
Harry was pre-deceased by his wife, Betty, his brothers Maurice, Kim, and Phillip, and his sister, Marjorie (Ollerich), with whom he had a lifelong close relationship. He is survived by his daughters Blanche Nishi, (Doug), Marjorie Beales, (John), and Mary Thompson, (Bruce), six grandchildren: Johnny, (Joanie), Meredith, David, (Karen), and Graham Beales, and Laura Martini, (Ryan), and Scott Thompson, many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
A Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday, December 21, 2010, at 2:00p.m. at St. Paul’s United Church, Lakeshore Road, Kelowna. A warm thank you from Harry’s family to Brookhaven’s caregivers who showed him such respect and affection in the last months of his life. Arrangements in care of Springfield Funeral Home, www.springfieldfuneralhome.com, 250-860-7077, with a thank you for their many years of support for The Interior Alzheimer Society.