Remembering our Dad:
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Don Bray, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
We are here to honor and say farewell to our dad, grandfather, great grandfather, Uncle, brother and friend. He was one of the “Good Ones”…the man, the myth, the legend…our DAD!
It all started on February 17, 1931 in a small rural community outside of Willowbrook, Saskatchewan. He was the second son of Percy and Myrtle Bray and was one of seven kids: Lorne, Don, Ross, Dorothy, Harold, Lois and Lloyd. Dad had fond memories of growing up on the farm and would tell us stories of his childhood riding to school in a sled pulled by horses and all the shenanigans he and his brothers and sisters would get into.
Soon he met our mom, Ruthella, the love of his life, and they raised their five children in a loving, caring environment. Eldest daughter Cindy was born in Invermere, BC and soon after a son, Les was born shortly after they moved to Flin Flon, followed by Pam, Lorna and later Nancy.
When they came to Flin Flon they rented a suite from the Wickens whom we grew to love like another set of grandparents. After Les was born our parents bought a little house on Dominion Blvd. They loved being on this street with neighbors like the Todoschucks, Petersons, Olsons, and many more great people! As dad used to say “At one time there were over 40 kids on the street” riding bikes, playing cricket, kick the can, red light green light, hockey and many other outdoor activities.
Growing up we were taught many lessons including respecting our elders. Sometimes we forgot the lessons and even though dad had endless patience, when we stepped out of line it only took one booming word for us to stop and listen! However, it didn’t take us kids long to realize dad’s bark was worse than his bite. He was really somewhat of a softie…us girls could usually wrap him around our little fingers.
He was a generous man and was always helping neighbors, lending out his tools, equipment and himself to anyone who needed assistance.
Mom always said he had selective hearing. He could lie down in the afternoon for a nap or watch his favorite show “Hockey Night in Canada” and not hear us kids fighting or crying! And with a brother that was always stirring the pot there was a lot of noise around our house!
The kitchen was mostly mom’s domain but we remember Saturday morning when dad would make us his famous grilled cheese sandwiches or delicious cheese and bacon burgers!
When we think of dad we think of fresh brewed coffee in the early morning, Louis L’Amour Western novels, peanut butter on moms fresh baked bread and of course ice cream. One of our family’s favourite sayings was “You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!” Much to mom’s dismay dad never ate vegetables, especially carrots, and he always told us kids and grandkids to leave the cooked carrots so you will have room for dessert!
Dad worked for 30 years at HB and had been retired for 32 years. He was a development miner and later a shift boss and worked at several mines including Cornation, White Lake Mine, Centennial, Westarm, South and North Main.
Along with working at HB, dad also did carpentry work and helped build quite a few houses and garages in town. He built a new house and new cabin with his own hands, along with moms help, and was very proud of it. He passed this skill onto his son Les. In his spare time he built cupboards and toy boxes for his grandchildren.
Throughout the years we made many, many road trips to Foam Lake, to visit family, and sometimes we would camp all the way to BC…a feat in itself…talk about patience. Travelling all that way with five kids, a station wagon and a pull behind tent camper…basically…the Grizwolds! Our parents also bought a little cabin at Big Island early in their marriage and later rebuilt a second home in the same location. We spent a lot of days there and at Phantom Lake swimming in ice cold water, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and drinking Gateway rootbeer! Our parents always had extra kids along with us on all these trips to the lake as our friends adopted our parents as their own.
Dad loved his hockey games whether it was the Flin Flon Bombers or one of his kids, grandkids, and great grandkid and he rarely missed a game. He also attended track and field, volleyball, basketball, baton, endless school concerts, ballet, figure skating, baseball, curling, badminton, synchro, piano concerts, gymnastics, dance, hoop dancing and soccer activities. His family meant the world to him and he thoroughly enjoyed watching us. We remember one time the Track Club called and asked if dad could help coach the team. They assured him he wouldn’t have to know much as he was just another body to have around so he agreed to help. No sooner had he hung up the phone he went into their bedroom and put on long underwear with a pair of shorts over top and an old white undershirt and came out to the kitchen where we were. We all laughed but we thought Nancy, who was younger, would die of embarrassment! That was dad’s best weapon – EMBARRASMENT! We were all dragged home one time or another “by our ear” and in later years some of us also enjoyed this tactic with our own children.
Our parents always had a group of friends they visited with, played cards with and went to the Gateway for lunch with – the Muenchs, Colvilles, Borcharts, Neufelds, Hedmans, Johnsons, Lyons, and many, many more – too many to mention.
They also loved to dance and they belonged to the Square Dance Club and often attended the Old Time Dances. They had many good memories with their group of friends – the Schultzs, Grudgefields, Whitbreads, and many more - dancing together. Dad was a great dancer and they were a couple to watch at weddings…they had the moves! Dad taught us girls how to dance polka’s, waltz’s and two steps by first letting us stand on his feet until finally dancing with us at our weddings. Often you would see mom and dad dancing around in the kitchen together to Johnny Cash or some other country music.
Over the years, dad liked to hang out with us kids. He joined into our card, crib and crocinal games, most times staying awake into the late hours of the evening, sometimes even staying up later than Pam!
After dad retired he started golfing and having coffee at McDonalds. He loved that time spent with his friends; Charlie, Rene and Bob…bullshitting… apparently that’s where Lorna gets it from. He and mom often filled their time with us kids, grandkids and great grandkids. They also enjoyed many hot trips to Arizona, Hawaii, and Texas with their friends and other family members.
Our mom was always the glue that held our family together, and after she passed away, we floundered and wondered how we would go on without her but dad stepped up and became the one we turned to. This was a turning point in all of our lives. In a way we think this was the way it was meant to be, we slowly began to get to know our dad in a different way. When mom was alive we would call and say “Hi Dad, where’s mom?” but now our Sunday visits were full of his stories and memories. Soon after when his great granddaughter passed away from cancer he told us if he could, he would trade her places as he had already lived a good life, but God had a different plan. It wasn’t dads time yet but it was Taya’s. It broke his heart and ours. Throughout the tragedies of life dad remained strong and as the years flew by our time together became more and more frequent. Not long before mom passed away she said “Look after your Dad”…and we did! We made sure he was well fed and cared for. Food was very important to him…haha. He had supper at our houses every night and he loved the food and the Company!
The last couple years at PCH were hard but dad was a trooper. He would charm the ladies with his mischievious smile and a twinkle in his eye and would always end up with extra cookies and other sweets. He loved when we visited and everyday when we hugged him goodbye we would say “I love you Dad” and he would say “Love you too sweetheart… bye d bye”.
He was a great big man with a great big heart that eventually just wore out…it was now his time. We will miss him with our whole being but dad would tell us not too cry, but instead to enjoy life and live it to the fullest – he is going home to the woman he loved. They are looking down from Heaven, guiding us along life’s adventures. Their love, memories, and lessons in life will live in our hearts…cherished forever.
Farewell dad….until we meet again.