Bruce (Rankin) MERRITHEW

MERRITHEW, Bruce (Rankin)

January 29, 1929-April 24, 2014

Bruce passed peacefully at Campbell River Hospital of congestive heart failure with his daughters holding his hands. He was born in Vancouver, BC; the only child of Rankin Adkin Merrithew and Agnes Ellen (Bruce). Bruce was predeceased by the love of his life, Dale September 5, 2013. They spent 64 years together, 59 years married. He met Dale on a blind date on April Fools’ Day, 1949 and it was love at first sight. After that he would walk more than 3 miles each way to see her and they would walk together on their dates mainly to see movies. Dad proposed to Mom February 1954 with his mother’s engagement ring and they married July 17, 1954.

Bruce’s father Rankin passed away when he was 10 months old, leaving his mom a single parent. Rankin (Sr) was an owner/partner in the Canada Nut Company which manufactured Squirrel Peanut Butter. Squirrel was known by the peanut on top of every tin or jar. Agnes remarried when Bruce was in his teens to Maurice Peter Agnew Hampton. Bruce is survived by his daughters, Ann (Kent Allen) and Cathy (Gordon McColl); granddaughter Maranda Allen (Qing Song Li) and grandson Garrett Allen; all of Campbell River, BC and his canine companion “Kaos”. Sister-In-law Ann Mary Franzen, nephews Mark Franzen (Karen) and Scott Franzen (Julie), all of Washington State. Also many cousins in New Brunswick where Rankin Sr. was born.

Dad was born and raised in Vancouver. He attended Edith Cavell Elementary School, Magee High School and graduated from King Edward High School. It was there that he got his training as a radio operator. This lead to a job as Radio Operator and Freight Clerk aboard the freighters Prince George #2, Prince Rupert and Lake Kootenay, carrying dry cargo of grain and sugar. Bruce was proud to say he’d travelled both ways through the Panama Canal. He travelled to Japan, Korea and Cuba. He remembered the ship having to stay in Korea for a month during the Korean War. He also worked on the tug SD Brooks towing davis rafts from the Queen Charlotte Islands to Powell River. Before marrying, Dad took a job with Northwest Tel (which later became BC Tel) working as a radio technician in Comox at Cape Lazo. They made their first home there in 1954. The family moved to Campbell River in 1961. Dad worked as Toll Foreman for BC Tel where he was in charge of long distance lines.

The love Bruce had of the sea was a common thread throughout his life. He captained the Merri-Ark and later the Merrilee II – always reading the tide guides and listening to the latest weather report so as to keep us all safe during our voyages. Family and friends were welcomed aboard and enjoyed cruising the waters around Campbell River and “Happy Hour.” Bruce was a member of the Ripple Rock Power Squadron, teaching safe boating and also taught VHF radio classes. He was a Coast Guard Auxiliary member, towing several stranded vessels to safety. Mom and Dad were also proud members of the Campbell River Yacht Club. Blessed to be able to enjoy retirement at age 55, Dad made the most of it. After selling the Merrilee ll, Mom and Dad began their adventures on dry land by buying a camper van. They travelled to Alaska, through BC and also drove across Canada to Newfoundland and to New Brunswick. Dad met many long lost relatives there before travelling back through the northern US states. He left us a treasure trove of slides, pictures and videos of their escapades on land and at sea.

Bruce was a volunteer firefighter starting in Comox and retiring as Deputy Chief of the #2 Hall in Willow Point. His motto “We never lost a foundation”.

An avid reader, Dad was a familiar face at the library where he read all he could find on WW 2, trains, boats, the West Coast and planes just to name a few subjects. He always had several books on the go, you name it and he’s probably read it. He was our “Go-To” guy for questions about anything, be it mechanical, geography, history, cooking or gardening, Dad always had the answer for us. He loved Big Band music and also listened to military tattoo music, loving the bagpipes.

The family would like to thank Dr. Ghosh for caring for Dad and exploring options for treatment. To Dr. Coetzee thank you for the care and compassion you showed Dad. To the nursing staff in the telemetry unit, ICU and 3 North…thank you.

Dad taught us plenty but we learned so much about strength, courage, dignity, respect, commitment and true devotion when we watched him help Mom through her many health challenges. This was especially apparent during Mom’s last few months when he took the lead on her palliative care at home. Dad faced his prognosis head on with such bravery, strength and at times surprising us all with a joke. Flowers gratefully declined, please donate to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A Celebration Of Life will be held at a later date. Time, date and place will be announced in an upcoming paper or contact

Mom was our anchor and you were our rock…Calm waters and safe passage Dad.

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