WILLIAM (BILL) BURDETT MITCHELL

William Burdett

Mitchell (“Bill”)

passed away peacefully on May 9th, 2013 at Summerland, B.C. A graveside service was held at Canyon View Cemetery on June 7, 2013. Bill was born to Thomas and Triphena Mitchell on August 13, 1921, in the tiny hamlet of Cupar, Saskatchewan. He was the fourth in a family of five sisters and one brother. In 1923 the family moved to a farm in Vanderhoof, B.C. where Bill lived until his graduation from high school. In his youth, he worked on farms in the area and later in a gold mine at Germansen Landing.

In 1941 Bill joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served in Canada and overseas for the duration of WWII. He trained to be an Aero Engine Mechanic and worked on P-40 fighter aircraft. In 1943 he volunteered to go overseas and after seven days on a troop ship, arrived in Liverpool England. Bill’s duties allowed him to work with several squadrons of fighter airplanes and pilots. His service ended in early 1945 when he received word of his father’s passing and he returned home to Canada. Although he didn’t often speak of his experiences in Europe, he later expressed a desire to return during peace time.

Upon returning home, Bill earned his Heavy Duty Mechanics license as well as welding and electrical training, at what is now the Van Tech high school in Vancouver. He obtained employment with the Federal Department of Transport and worked at Dog Creek Airport for four years. In March of 1951, Bill was transferred to Sandspit Airport on the Queen Charlotte Islands, where he met a lovely young woman, Hazel Johnson, who would later become his wife and life partner. The couple were married in Fort St. James, and then set up residence in Prince George where their first two sons, Lane and Russell, were born.

After another transfer, the Mitchells found themselves in Terrace B.C. where they welcomed a third son, Murray in 1960. Bill was the Airport Manager and the family lived on the airport which the boys found to be a wonderful place to grow up; exploring the woods and enjoying the freedom and security that came with living in a close-knit working community. The family shared picnics, fishing, camping and exploring the great outdoors – driving vacations were the staple of their summers. Bill enjoyed hunting and fishing, he was a gifted carpenter and mechanic building a power boat and holiday trailer in his spare time. The family made much use of both for their leisure and recreation.

Shortly after Bill’s retirement he and Hazel moved to Chilliwack where they lived comfortably for 30 years. They had a wide circle of friends, including those at the curling rink and others who comprised their “coffee gang”. Bill loved his woodworking shop in the basement of their Chilliwack home and spent many happy hours there building cabinets, doing scrollwork as well as designing unique toys and puzzles out of wood. He was able to fashion furniture without a plan or pattern and shared his gift of woodworking with others who admired his work. He would have a real gleam in his eye when he showed you a new ‘invention’ and often his projects were the source of much laughter and joy. He also admired a sense of adventure and loved to tell a good story with a bit of humour and a happy ending. But they were not shy of leaving their home for driving vacations; this they did frequently, sometimes quite spur-of-the-moment.

In the fall of 2009, Bill and Hazel relocated to Summerland to a lovely assisted living facility. They enjoyed the fellowship of other seniors there and especially loved being close to family. After Hazel’s passing in December, 2012, Bill had a difficult time navigating life on his own and the joys which he used to experience were limited. He followed- up on a long-held desire that the family had been praying for and expressed an interest and a longing to join his wife in heaven. Bill made a spiritual decision to become a Christian shortly before his passing.

Above all, Bill was a family man – he cherished his sons and their families and was the source of great strength and support to all of them throughout their lives. He taught his boys the meaning of hard work, perseverance and pride in a job well done. Bill was predeceased by his parents and four sisters, as well as his loving wife Hazel. He leaves to cherish his memory his three sons; Lane (Doris) Mitchell of Summerland, B.C., Russell (Wendy) Mitchell of Burnaby, B.C., Murray Mitchell of Abbotsford B.C; two grandsons, Jared (Tiffany) Mitchell, Ryan (Krista) Mitchell; and one granddaughter, Kaylee Mitchell; six great grandchildren – Austin, Nikaela, Shyla, Mila, Jovie, & Violet; younger brother Alec (Sandy) Mitchell and sister Juanita Lindsey; brother-in-law Gerry (Ollie) Johnson and many nieces, nephews and friends. We were blessed to call him Father, Grandpa, Brother, Uncle and Friend!