John Allan Sanderson Godfrey

December 12, 1924 – May 4, 2011

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of John, aka Jack. Born in Sudbury, Ontario, he was the 2nd last child born to George Wilfred Franklin Godfrey (1888 -1963) & Christina Isabelle “Belle” Sanderson (1888-1940). He was one of 9 siblings, who have predeceased him. (Norman Edgar “Ed” 1911-1999), Freida Isabelle Nesbitt (1912-1989), Donald Everett (1914 – 2001), Edmund Al “Jog” (1916-2001),Lois Ann Tobey (1918-2003), James Douglas (1921-1988), Helen Berniece (1922-1922), Myra Jean Rhodes(1926-1983). His father was a railway man and sometimes John’s school was on a railway car. Because his father was a supervisor, he had a large house in Ardbeg where his family would host square-dances with his mother playing the piano, and his brother-in-law Mac Nesbitt playing the violin. They had central heating, so the dancers had to watch out for the large grate in the center of the floor.

John left school after grade 10 and started working at age 16 at the local grocer. He moved on to the Nobel munitions plant where he worked manufacturing items for the war. Soon after that he lied about his age to join the Algonquin Regiment Reserve Army. Within a year he met WAC Ruth Wallace “Mickey” (1924-1999) who became his first wife in 1943. He went AWOL to marry her at Newmarket, Ontario. He served in various locations in Canada during WWII. He also volunteered for the Chemical Warfare Laboratories experiments in Ottawa and received a special note of thanks in 2004. He was shipped overseas during the Korean conflict where he served as a supply Sergeant. He traded k-rations for light bulbs to use in the tents at the front lines and took them there in a jeep. The conflict ended while he was in Korea and he spent his last 3 months of his tour of duty in Tokyo, Japan. As part of his duties he booked his first plane trip to get home to Canada.

He left the army and became a police officer in Parry Sound. He continued this career in Neilson-Garson, near Sudbury. It was during this time he became a member of the Masonic Lodge in Sudbury.

Later he was a guard at the Pronto, and Elliott Lake Mines. He broke his leg in two places when he was a first aid officer at one mine, and was so bored waiting for the healing, he taught his children how to play bridge. He was an avid bridge player and later in life took on the challenge of duplicate bridge. Before he would agree to retire here in Nanaimo he had to be reassured he could play duplicate Bridge. He succeeded in earning his 500 Master points.

In 1960 the Uranium market collapsed and John and his family were relocated to Kitimat. John worked at the Alcan smelter as a stud puller. In 1962 the Kitimat United Church congregation became his sponsor to pursue a childhood dream of becoming an ordained minister. The first step was to take on a charge of 5 churches as a lay minister in the Jaffray & Warden area in the East Kootenay. The University of British Columbia accepted his “high school equivalency” from his army assessments and he took a first year University English course by correspondence.

In 1963 John started his 4 year short course for ordination at Union College at UBC in Vancouver. He became ordained in 1967. He served in 100 Mile House, Greenwood, and Kimberly before moving on to the Alberta and Northwest conference, serving in several southern Alberta charges. In his last years before retirement in 1989 he was Chair of Presbytery.

It was always in the pursuit of helping others that he lived his life, even in retirement. He served at Brechin United Church as a “fill-in” minister. He volunteered at the Nanaimo Crisis Centre and served as a Chaplain at the Legion 256 Branch. He also volunteered for Family Life as a peer counsellor, stood at the Sally Ann pots at Christmas, and sold poppies for Remembrance Day.

In his playful 70’s he grew a long beard, handle-bar moustache and long hair which were pure white and with his rotund figure always brought to mind Santa Clause. He cherished the smiles on people’s faces when they caught sight of the gaudy sequins on his Christmas tie and suspenders. He loved puns and a play on words; the comedy of Mike Nichols and Elaine May; Don Herron as Charlie Farquharson; and Wayne and Shuster. His brother Ed introduced him to an enjoyment of jazz with an album “Africa Speaks and America Answers”. He enjoyed the music of Teresa Brewer, Spike Jones, and Peggy Lee. He was an avid Hockey fan and was a faithful watcher of Hockey Night in Canada even when you could barely see through the “snow” on the screen. Of course he cheered for Bobby Orr of Parry Sound.

Hazel Allen (nee Milburn) became his second wife after they were introduced by Flora Bailey of Brechin United Church. They married Jan 17, 2004 at Brechin United Church after a whirlwind romance of one month.

John is survived by his wife Hazel Godfrey, his daughter Marilyn (& Dave) Marshall, granddaughter Patricia (& Nolan Vollmer) Marshall, great grandsons, Reilley & Erik Vollmer, his son Lawrence (& L. Victoria Barnum) Godfrey, grandsons Thomas & Matthew Godfrey, and many loving in-laws, nieces and nephews and their children residing from Ontario to B.C. He is also survived by Hazel’s family; David, Derek, Norman, Emily, Jeanette and Jill Allen. We’ll miss you!

A service in celebration of life will be held at Oliver Woods Community Centre, 6000 Oliver Road, Nanaimo at 7pm on Saturday, June 4, 2011. Flowers are welcome; however donations in John’s memory to the Canadian Legion, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada or the Vancouver Island Crisis Society would be very much appreciated.


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