May 12, 1940 – August 2, 2016
Alvin Richard Mitchell of Robson passed away at the age of 76 on August 2, 2016 in his home surrounded by loved ones. Alvin was the older of two children; he put the glimmer of pride in his Moms eye right up until the day she passed. And he was just as proud. “She was a great woman— a hard working woman,” He would say, and then chuckle, “And boy could she swing an axe.”
Alvin was never afraid to try new things from working on the farm as a boy straight into the patch as a rig hand. From there he joined in the Navy through which he met his first wife Gail. The jobs continued to change, to a Forest officer in the Alberta Forest service taking the opportunity to earn his pilots license and then finally growing tired of the politics of a government job he settled back to his roots in Wandering River to farm raising cows and grain. Sometimes even moonlighting as a substitute veterinarian for local farmers having calving trouble. During those job changes, he had three girls: Cheryl, Debby and Shannon, born to him both a gift and a challenge. He never complained at a lack of a son— although he adopted several young men into his life as such.
Tall dark and handsome as a young man he pursued sports, baseball, hockey, and he played football for the Edmonton Wildcats. The aging process slowed him down into curling and golf but just a few years ago he had one last hurrah with the local Robson ball team, the Brew Crew. That was Alvin: the oldest young person you ever could meet. The sparkle of youth always shimmered in his sea blue eyes as he signed on for his next escapade.
He had a strong sense of community service and actively participated on Agricultural Service Boards, Recreation Boards, and The Lions Club, as well as giving help to neighbors or strangers, wherever it was needed. He welcomed all who landed on his doorstep with a firm handshake and an offer of coffee or beer. Stubborn, gentleman, man of his word, never one to shy from a party and a good bottle of scotch or rum, he was a master of good intentions: “I ‘ll get to that” or “Leave it alone I’ll do it”. And there the job sat for an indeterminate period of time. Cheap. Alvin was cheap— always looking for the Good value, which often was not. He was known to keep meat until it turned a lovely shade of green along the edges and then state, “It’s okay just cut that bit off, and it’s still good.”
Alvin’s favorite topic of conversation—the weather. That’s how you knew he was still a farmer through and through.
In 2003 Alvin met Gil and they began the adventure of planning for retirement together including boating around Nanaimo on Skippers Choice, and camping in Ladysmith. When Alvin retired, he sold the farm and they retired together in Meadow Creek B.C. A few years later, after looking for the conveniences of a bigger town, they fell in love with a quaint little house near the rivers edge in Robson. Alvin made friends quickly with his easy laid back style and many wobbly pops. Golf, Poker and Curling were quickly incorporated into the new friendships. Sadly life has a way of throwing a wrench into a perfectly well oiled machine and Alvin was diagnosed with cancer. It’s not the way he would have liked to go. He would have preferred a bolt of lightening rather than the long treatment making him feel sicker than the illness itself. He found it a shocking experience after a lifetime of good health. In the past months, Alvin sat in his recliner staring out the window watching the river meandering by, the constant drone of the TV played with his choice of news or sports and then for some bizarre reason ‘My Five Hundred Pound Life’ became a short-term favorite. He would sip his coffee and pull deeply on his cigarette finding comfort in those small things. He was asked if he had any regrets—anything he would have liked to change in his life. He pondered the question inhaling another lungful of smoke responding, “ No”. He pauses tilting his head tapping the ashes off his ciggy, “Well— I don’t think so. I’ve had a pretty good life. “ He nods slowly. “A pretty good life.” And he gives a grin, weathered and worn. The familiar smile his friends and family loved, the one inviting you to smile along. And of course we all would. That was Alvin in his final days, Gil’s cinnamon buns for breakfast, a good cup of coffee and his smoke. He was a simple man satisfied with the abundance of ordinary things. Nothing fancy for him in his faded thread bare flannel plaid shirt, his favorite attire— with of course a pocket to hold all the lighters he would inadvertently borrow when looking for a light.
He is already missed. For such a slender fellow he sure took up a big space in our hearts.
Alvin is survived by his wife Gilberte Mitchell, daughter Cheryl and (partner) Wondim Mitchell, daughter Debby and (husband) Rick Proulx, daughter Shannon and (husband) Kane Mangin, Grandchildren Megan, Dillon, Abigail, Mitchell, Charlize, Great-grandchildren Julie and Emma, Sister Shirley and (husband) Dave Sonmor, niece Elaine Sonmor, nephew Eric and (wife) Teresa and many cherished cousins and friends.
A heartfelt thank you to Chris Holt and his wife Jen who have been infinite help during this difficult time.
A special thanks to Dr. Vasil to whom we couldn’t have done without, and to the palliative care nurses, and the homecare workers for their gentle support.