SUPRAD OLDTIMER CAIRN HONOREES

SUPRAD OLDTIMER CAIRN DEDICATIONS

Background: It was decided in 2006 to remember on person from the SUPRAD Community. From 2006 until 2015, the SUPRAD Oldtimers have selected individuals to be honoured at the annual Gloucester Cairn dedications. Below are the names of the people, and a brief write-up as well.

 

 

2006 – 1st Gloucester Cairn Inductee – Irene McLean (nee Carter) – 1912-2006

In September of 1940, Miss Carter went to Ottawa on vacation. She planned to call in at the Naval Service Headquarters (NSHQ) to try to find out if they were going to recruit women into the Naval Service, without success.

Then, in September of 1941, Miss Carter went back to NSHQ in Ottawa, and this time she got to meet person in charge of recruiting women, and the Captain asked her to spread the word to any female Morse operators, which she did.

In May of 1942, a bill was passed through Parliament giving the Royal Canadian Navy permission to recruit women into the service.

In October of 1942, she went to Galt, Ontario for basic training, and from there, Irene Carter was posted to Coverdale, where she was in charge of 200 WRENS, and made the rank of Chief petty Officer.

 

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2007 – 2nd Gloucester Cairn Inductee – Malcolm (Mac) Feeley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2008 – 3rd Gloucester Cairn Inductee – William (Bill) Hillaby – 1933-2003

 Bill served in the R.C.N. from 1950 to 1988. 

 

 

 

 

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2009 – 4th Gloucester Cairn Inductee – Ralph Kunkle

Ralph Kunkel was born in North Bay, ON, 15 Jun 1937 and joined the RCN on 12 Oct 1954.  Over the next five years, he served in HMCS Gloucester (twice), HMCS Churchill, NRS Frobisher and HMCS Bytown.  After six moves in five years, he decided to get out of the Navy and set down some roots.  He got a job with the NRC (now CSE), married the former Mary Lou Gallagher and moved to Ottawa, where he stayed until 1961.

He again felt the call of duty to his country in Nov 1961 and re-enlisted.  As seems to be customary in the military, Ralph was given a “penalty” 2-year tour in Churchill – six months of which were spent in Alert.  Mary Lou, by now with a small baby, quickly learned what the “for worse” part of her vows really meant.

Many postings followed over the next 30+ years including HMCS Gloucester, CFS Masset (twice), CFS Leitrim, CFS Inuvik, 1 CSR Kingston,

CFSCE Kingston, and CFB Gander.  Much to the chagrin of his family, there was never a jammy Bermuda posting among all of the isolated and semi-isolated locations.  Ralph’s final posting was to CFSRSHQ Ottawa from July 1987 to

July 1991, followed by his retirement in Dec 1991 – just before his youngest daughter received her commissioning as an officer in the Air Force. Coincidence?  Not likely.  Ralph also spent 4 tours in Alert, and then returned there many times as SRS Chief to visit the troops. His favourite postings were Masset and Gander; not only because they fed his passion for hunting and fishing, but also because they were smaller, tight-knit Units with a strong sense of community.

Some of Ralph’s career highlights include his tenure as the Base Chief, then as Ops CWO, in Gander. During the latter, he was also in charge of the BDF at the time of the Gander Air Crash, so spent a lot of time at the crash site, looking out for his troops. He was also very proud to end his career as a 291er, as the SRSCWO. 

During this very busy 37-year career, Ralph and Mary Lou had three children. The eldest, Mark, spent 15 years as a technician in the Air Force before moving on to private industry. The second child, Dianne, became a Geophysicist and works in the Oil and Gas industry. The youngest, Debbie, is still an Air Traffic Control Officer in the Air Force.  

As everyone here today knows, Ralph Kunkel was quite a character; he was well-known by many and respected by all who had the honour to serve with him.  The stories are too numerous to mention but suffice it to say that today – 18 years after Ralph retired – his daughter still meets people in the Canadian Forces that knew him, deeply respect him, and want to share their stories with her about who her father was.

Contrary to the stern, gruff Chief that Ralph liked to portray, he really enjoyed working with people – particularly the young kids new to the trade. Many were intimidated by “old Supergrouch”, but once they got to know him, they realized how soft-hearted he really was, and loved working with him.   

Ralph was also a “Chiefs’ Chief”.  He was fiercely loyal to his country, to the RCN, and to all who worked for him.  He believed that “people are the most valuable resource” and did everything in his power to defend and promote both the 291 trade and the people in it.  When Debbie was going through basic officer training, she asked his advice before going out on a major exercise.  “Take care of the men first; they eat before you eat and they sleep before you sleep.  Do this and they will take care of you and the mission”.  That is exactly how CPO1 Kunkel lived his life; he always acted with integrity, always looked after others, and always led by example – both at work and at home with his family.

Upon his retirement, Ralph and Mary Lou returned home to North Bay, ON to reconnect with family.  While Mary Lou continued to work, Ralph embarked on his second careers as gardener, fisherman, and hunter.  He enjoyed great success in all three areas and his lifestyle was the envy of many in his hometown (not to mention his beautiful gardens).  When Mary Lou retired, he added traveler to this list as well, and the two of them took the opportunity to see much of the Canada they missed while in the military.  Ralph thoroughly enjoyed his retirement years and frequently bragged about how much busier he was after retirement than when serving in the military. 

While moose-hunting on November 03, 2003, Ralph took ill and returned home, believing he was suffering from the flu.  Two weeks later he was diagnosed with lung cancer and six weeks after his diagnosis, succumbed to his illness and passed away in North Bay on 8 Jan 2004.  He is sadly missed and remembered by his family and the many friends and colleagues that he met over the years.  However, his memory will live on in the countless stories and laughter over Ralph’s antics during a lengthy career, and a well-lived life. 

I can honestly say that there will only ever be one – “Uncle Kunkel”. 

 

 

 

 

 

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2010 – 5th Gloucester Cairn Inductee – Morley McAllister

Morley was born in Ottawa on March 14th, 1929. He was the youngest of Allan & Louisa McAllister’s three children. He grew up in the west end of Ottawa, known as Britannia. He attended Ottawa Tech High School.

At the age of 16, Morley joined the Royal Canadian Navy, stationed in Halifax, N.S. His original trade was a “Stoker,” however while posted to HMCS Gloucester he was convinced to move into the Communications Trade. After training, he was stationed in Victoria, B.C., until the onset of the Korean War.

In July, 1950, he was part of the first Canadian aid to help the hard-pressed UN forces with the Korean war. The HMCS Ships, Cayuga, Athabaskan and Sioux were dispatched to Korean waters and served under the United Nations Command. These ships supported the assault on Inchon and played an especially important role in the evacuation which followed the Chinese intervention. In 1953, a full three years later, the Korean war ended and Morley went back to his station in Victoria, BC.

In 1955, while stationed in Churchill, MB, he met Lois Gardner, who would eventually become his wife. He was then transferred to Washington, DC. In 1957 he became very ill and was hospitalized for several weeks and was diagnosed with diabetes.

Morley and Lois were married in Lois’ hometown of Lethbridge, AB, on March 8th, 1958, returning back to Washington for the next two years.

In 1960, Morley was posted back to his home town of Ottawa. In the early 60’s, due to his diabetes and not being able to go back to sea, he was honourably discharged.

Morley and Lois had three daughters, Kimberly Ann in 1966. In 1969, they adopted their second daughter Mary and in 1970 welcomed the birth of their third daughter, Catherine. In 1967 they purchased their first and only home in Riverside Park, Ottawa.

Once out of the Navy, Morley sold motor boats at Sears and finally decided to try the insurance industry. Morley sold life insurance to a few of his old Navy buddies, as well as door-to-door. He eventually decided to sell General Insurance and worked for Rhodes and Sons. He then decided to venture out on his own. In 1979, he purchased an established brokerage by the name of Courtney and Grant which would prove to be the first of many brokerages bought during his lengthy insurance career.

Just as his new business venture was underway, tragedy struck. In 1980, their oldest daughter Kim (then aged 14) died from an allergic reaction to peanuts. Morley and Lois never fully got over their loss of Kim.

Their second daughter, Mary, started to work in the family business followed by Cathy in 1990. In late 1990, at the age of 61, Morley decided to retire. He sold his business to Mary and a long time employee, Lorna Faris.

Retirement did not last long and when the enticing sale of another brokerage presented itself in 1991, he was back in the insurance business again. He finally retired for good in 1995, at the age of 65.

After his well-earned retirement, he enjoyed golfing three times a week. Joining the Hylands Golf Club, he established his regular foursome – made up of his dearest and oldest friends. Morley spent the good part of the next ten years, heading south for parts of the winter, golfing with his regular foursome and watching Rough Rider football games while they were still in town. Of course, he and Lois also enjoyed their four grandchildren.

In 2005, as a member of the Suprad Old-Timers Association, they decided to construct a memorial cairn. This cairn was to represent all the men and women who served at the Naval Radio Station which became HMCS Gloucester. This was a fabulous project. They all put in a great deal of time and effort into the construction of the cairn. They managed to privately raise all the funds required. The cairn was unveiled in June 2006 at the Greely Legion (formerly the HMCS Gloucester site). This was a very proud moment for Morley.

On March 8, 2008, Morley and Lois celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They were treated to a surprise dinner party for them and 60 of their closest relatives and friends.

When Morley turned 79 years old on March 14th, he and Lois headed to Bermuda for a two week vacation. Morley always wanted to return to Bermuda after being there in the 1950’s while aboard ship.

Morley and Lois returned home from their vacation on April 11, 2008. He passed away in his sleep that night!

Morley was a man of great integrity. He wore his heart on his sleeve and lived every day to the fullest. Morley would also be humbled by this honour today. Though the rules of the Navy did not allow him to continue with his Navy career, his heart always remained with the RCN and all of the wonderful men and women that served with him.

 

 

 

 

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2011 – 6th Gloucester Cairn Inductee – John (Red) Lawther

Our Cairn honoree this year is John Alfred McKenzie Lawther, known by most of us as “Red.”

John was born in Powell River, B.C. on February 2, 1931 to Mildred and John Lawther.

He has two siblings, Allan who is here today and a sister Lenore.

John joined the Navy in 1950 and over the next thirty years had many postings to places such as: Gloucester (5 times); Churchill (3 times); Gander; Cheltenham Maryland; Marietta Georgia; Frobisher Bay; Inuvik; Ladner; Alert (2 times); Masset; Bermuda; Leitrim and finished his career at CFSRS Headquarters in Ottawa. John retired as a Master Warrant Officer in 1980.

John then went on to his second career, working as a civilian for National Defence in Tunney’s Pasture. He finally retired for good in 1995.

In February 1995 John received a letter from the Commander of Supplementary Radio System expressing his sincere appreciation for John’s 47 years of service to his country and to the Supplementary Radio System.

It was on his third tour (1961) at Gloucester that he met Annona Cahill. Her Mom and Dad had a farm half a mile south of the base.

John and Annona were married in 1965. They had three children: Maureen, born in Winchester in 1966; Ann, born in Inuvik in 1968 and John, born in Masset in 1972.

John was a Family Man. While in Inuvik, he was well known in the town as the man who carried his daughter on his shoulders almost everywhere he went.

Also, while in Inuvik, John fell into the McKenzie river in full uniform. All that could be heard from the shore was “Save the Hat, Save the Hat,” no mention of saving John!!!

When John and Annona were finally finished travelling they settled down in Greeley in the same farmhouse where John met Annona in 1961. They were both active in the community, winter carnivals, bingos, etc., they were both there if needed.

John coached his son in Little League baseball. He also did his fair share of umpiring games while in the Military. It is said that at one of those games, John called a pitch a “Ball.” The pitcher called the catcher out and told him to tell the Ump that it was a “Strike” and if he didn’t want to get posted to Alert, he’ll not make that mistake again.

Perhaps some of you didn’t know that John raised turkeys. Each year he raised over 20 birds each weighing almost 30 pounds. He sold some to cover expenses and gave the rest away to family and friends.

John passed away on December 21, 2006. He will be remembered as a good husband, dad, grandpa, team leader, good friend and a kind and gentle guy. This is the reason for honouring John this year at the Cairn dedication.

 

 

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2012 – 7th Gloucester Cairn Inductee – George Fraser

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2013 – 8th Gloucester Cairn Inductee – Gilbert (Gib) Stanley Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2015 – 9th Gloucester Cairn Inductee – Robert Alexander Ritchie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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