Walter Earnest Barnum
January 28, 1913 ~ July 4, 2008
Walter Earnest Barnum passed
across the great divide on July 4 2008 while resting peacefully and comfortably at Arrowsmith Lodge in Parksville, B.C. He was 95. Walter will be remembered by his loving wife Francis. He also leaves five sons, Ernie (Kathy), John (Adele), Ade (Melanie), Gerry (Sarah), Geoff (Erin), and eight grandchildren, Daniel, Samuel, Deborah, Rebekah, Clinton, Duncan, Kelsey, and Burke. Walter was a small, quiet man with a big heart, always there with a helping hand.
Walter was born in Port Moody BC on January 28, 1913, the son of Edith and William, who was a millwright, violin maker, and inventor. Walt worked as a cowboy in the Chilcotin during the depression years, often playing his violin at small ranch gatherings while over wintering at ranches with his brothers. When war was declared in 1939, Walter joined his beloved New Westminster Regiment. He spent service time in The Defense of Britain, The Italian Campaign, and The Liberation of Holland. During the Italian Campaign in 1944, Walter was awarded the Military Medal, one of the highest awards for bravery, which was presented to him by the King of England, George V, at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
After the War, Walter stayed in active duty with the Canadian Army to assist with the stabilization of Holland following its liberation. There he met his future wife and only true love, Francis who was working as a nurse in the town of Meppel. Walter returned to Coombs BC in 1945 after discharge from the Army and worked to save money to bring his future bride to Canada. Francis left Holland on March 23, 1947 via Gottenburg, Sweden, by ship to New York and train to Hamilton, Ontario to the home of her aunt and uncle where she was greeted by Walter, who had traveled by train from Vancouver Island. They were married in Hamilton, Ontario on May 10, 1947. After a brief honeymoon in Niagara Falls they boarded a train to the west coast and returned to reside in Coombs. They lived in Coombs for several months before taking up residency in the Deluxe Auto Court in Parksville, while they built their modest home on Pioneer Crescent.
Walter worked on the boom at Northwest Bay and Francis became a homemaker. Walter’s passion for volunteer service included the Parksville Volunteer Fire Department (31 years of service, 12 years as the Fire Chief), Old Time Fiddlers (served as Secretary/Treasurer), the SOS (over 20 years service), and the Canadian Legion Branch #49 (served as its President or other Executive member for many different terms). Any other local volunteer activity that needed a helping hand could rely on Walt Barnum to participate.
Walter retired in 1978 and enjoyed a quiet retirement, still volunteering often. During his retirement he returned to Europe to visit Italy and Holland on three different occasions. The most recent trip was with the government sponsored pilgrimage celebrating the 60th anniversary of The Italian Campaign which included visits to military cemeteries throughout Italy. At Gredara, he visited the grave of his younger brother Harlin who was killed during the war.
During the last 3 years Walter lived at Arrowsmith Lodge, where he brought laughter and cheer to the staff and other residents. He was cared for lovingly and graciously by the exceptional staff.
A memorial service for Walter will be held at Knox United Church, 345 Pym Street, Parksville at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday July 12, 2008. Flowers are gratefully declined. Donations to the Poppy Fund, through Branch #49 Parksville Legion, would be appreciated.
“Walter will be missed by all whose lives he touched.”
Yates Funeral Service & Crematorium
250-248-5859 in care of arrangements