Obituary for James Fell
James William Fell
June 30, 1932 – Sept. 21, 2017
A Celebration of Jim’s life was held on Monday, September 25th, 2017, 11:00am at Northminster Memorial United Church with Father Paul Bringleson officiating. Jim’s family would like to share his eulogy written by his daughter and granddaughters on behalf of the family:
Thank you all for being here today and Rod for playing the bagpipes. Dad was a practical man and had taken the time many years ago to record his wishes. It is only fitting he requested bagpipes before and after his Celebration of Life. He was likely making sure no one is sleeping in the back row, which is amusing as he was one of the few around actually capable of sleeping through the bag pipes after which, upon awaking would confidently tell you he wasn’t sleeping, just resting his eyes.
When I sat down to start writing it was overwhelming as everyone knew dad in a different way. I’m sure many of you knew him as the Scouter, the Piper, the Mason, the neighbor, or volunteer who loved to take pictures of everything and everyone or the fellow in church who liked the back pew. Many of you know him from his 39 years working at HBM&S. To us he was just dad which became Papa over 20 years ago after the arrival of his first grandchildren Kyla and Brie Phillips. He was all about family and was the rock and calming force in our world. Nana had to be disciplinarian in the family as “no” was never really a word in Papa’s vocabulary. Once he had grandchildren he actually became an accomplice and thought it was funny to help them break any rule he could. Almost every visit to Nana and Papa’s included a game of “cheating bingo” as they called it because with Papa as the caller, you couldn’t lose and there were always prizes waiting! 2 years ago Stuart and Rebecca gave Nana and Papa their second set of twin grandchildren Duncan and Kenzy Fell and he couldn’t have been prouder.
Jim was born in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, June 30th, 1932. Jim’s family moved to Melfort when he was very young and that is where he grew up with his parents William and Irene along with his younger sister Marj. He began his lifelong passion of Scouting in 1945 at the age of 13. Scouting brought many positive things to Jim’s life, the best being the love of his life, Jeanne, whom he met at a World Jamboree in Sutton Cofield, England in 1957. Jim was a patient man and after an 8 year courtship and several unexpected delays preventing Jeanne from leaving England, she finally came to Canada and they were married in 1965. His love for Jeanne was constant and never failing! He picked well as they had many things in common and she was willing to put up with his lifelong “collecting”!
Papa collected everything… badges, stamps, books, hats, pins, Scout neckerchiefs to name a few. He even somehow managed to get Nana to collect spoons although I’m pretty sure she did not ever express an interest in spoons. Once he’d somehow decided she was a spoon collector, the spoons poured in from all over and kept coming. Being the loving wife she is, she just accepted it and graciously thanked everyone for the spoons over the years. He also collected pictures and newspaper articles. He would go up to the library and photocopy things he thought others would enjoy or be interested in and often mailed or personally delivered them.
It was only recently I came to the realization that Papa’s desire to collect was not about the collections themselves but about the people. He has made many lasting friendships and memories based on acquiring, trading, displaying and donating his collections.
Jim was never a handy man or a cook. Jeanne always did all of the cooking and he had the ability to slightly spill almost anything. If you checked his shirt you could quite often guess what she had made for him that day. He would laugh and carry on as this was the last thing he had time to worry about.
In Papa’s planning book he stated I want my family to remember me for “being at places ahead of time”. This was definitely a poke at the women in his life. Many a Sunday he took his place in the back of the church and gave us a nod as we snuck in half way through the first hymn.
When asked “if you could live your life over again what would you change?” he replied “I’d do the same thing over again but would study more of the world and the history of Canada.” Dad loved to travel and attended many Scouting Jamborees over the years. Jim and Jeanne travelled annually for many years with the Mackenzie’s exploring different places in Canada and visiting many, many museums. They also had several trips exploring with dad’s childhood friend Ivy. They loved these visits and looked forward to their yearly adventures.
Dad’s volunteering was endless. He led by example. If I tried to share it all we’d be here for days… he believed what goes around comes around and because of this, loved life and was surrounded by great people. We are thankful for those who gave him rides, shoveled snow and cut grass, or took time out of their day to stop and chat for a few minutes. Dad had amazing friends who allowed him to keep volunteering and attending Masonic and Museum meetings his entire life. Dad didn’t like to miss out on anything and his regular outings with his buddy Bob made sure he didn’t.
When we were young we used to sometimes dread going uptown with dad as it was never just a quick stop or 2. It took the better part of a morning or afternoon to complete the trip as he had to stop and talk to every person he knew and several he didn’t actually know but would often come to know over time. He listed his favorite thing as “talking to people on my outings.” Looking back we realize this was his gift. He was rarely serious and would tease anyone he could. The more he liked you, the more he teased. He had a way of making people feel comfortable and this was where he thrived.
Dad loved to walk. He never got his driver’s license and when we asked him why he simply replied he didn’t need it. He was man of routine and for many years after he retired dad went for breakfast or coffee at Chicken Chef every day. He walked and took the bus and enjoyed every minute of it. Riding the bus allowed him to visit while getting to where he needed to go.
Dad valued family and friends above all else. Often there was no distinction between the two, friends became family simply because we chose them to be. We have learned a lot from Dad and if you haven’t already, in the next few weeks, raise a glass and remember who he was in your life. He won’t want you to be sad, he was never one to dwell. His parting message would be simple: be humble, be kind and take the time to acknowledge people on your way by. And don’t worry about Jim… he has gone home.
From Jim’s Granddaughters Kyla & Brie: We were blessed to have over 20 years with our Papa; as he was rarely a serious man almost all our memories with him were filled with laughter. Nana and Papa took care of us whenever our parents were working or out, so we spent a lot of time with the two of them. After 20 years we still don’t have a single bad memory with Papa, and not once saw him mad. With so many great memories to reflect on we would like to share some of our favourites with everyone here today.
We often went for sleepovers at Nana and Papa’s, and Papa quickly became our partner in crime. One evening after watching home alone we decided that we needed to create our own “booby trap” in case anyone decided to break into the house. We shared this idea with Papa, so of course he gladly supplied us with all of Nana’s yarn to carry out our plan. We went into the kitchen and wove the yarn around the chair legs, the doorknobs, the table, and through every single cupboard and drawer handle we could find-- creating a spiderweb to stop any robbers from getting to the bedrooms. Needless to say, mom was not very impressed the next day when she had to cut her way through the kitchen to pick us up, but Papa thought it was pretty funny.
Papa could never say no to us; a perfect example of this was during our “beauty shop” phase, where Papa became our best customer. He let us work magic with the little hair he had and he simply would say “Wow, you girls sure did a nice job” when he looked in the mirror and saw his hair complete with about 15 barrettes and bows.
Papa always had a pocket full of coins and he would find literally every excuse he could to give us a Toonie or two. We would save these up for our walks to Johnny’s and the arcade. Papa would patiently sit in the booth at the arcade and watch hours upon hours of Dance Dance Revolution; he was simply happy to just be with his girls.
Papa was around us so much that he started to use some of our expressions, but he didn’t always quite get them right. Something on the TV caught his eye one night and he looked at the two of us and exclaimed “That’s really cold hey girls!” We all had a good laugh as we corrected him that the saying was actually “cool” and not cold.
Our Papa was like a giant teddy bear and as kids we constantly were climbing all over him or snuggling up to him. He never got tired of our hugs, and as much as we will miss him, we are grateful for all the wonderful memories and know that now he’ll always be watching over us from the best seat in the house.
Cherished and lovingly remembered by his wife Jeanne, children Stuart (Rebecca) Fell and Susan (Rick) Phillips, grandchildren Kyla, Brie, Duncan and Kenzy, nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. Predeceased by his parents William and Irene Fell, brother David Fell and Sister Marj Blocha.
Special thanks to the FFGH 3rd floor staff for the excellent care Jim received. To Darren and Dadson Funeral Home for your kindness and professionalism and to those who helped and contributed to Jim’s Celebration of Life. Also thanks to our friends for the many acts of kindness and expressions of sympathy during this time. Memorial donations in honour of Jim, may be made to The Boy Scouts of Canada, The Flin Flon Museum or a charity of your choice.