October 31, 1931 – April 30, 2022
Leslie Lee Abernathy was born on October 31st, 1931, in Barrhead, Alberta. He was called home to Heaven to join the love of his life, his wife Jean, on April 30th, 2022, in Vernon BC. His passing was peaceful with family beside him.
Les spent his early years in and around Barrhead, Alberta. The Abernathy family had a homestead farm and sawmill operation in the area. He attended one of the typical rural schools in the area of Pembina Heights AB, until his parents Benjamin and Eveline Abernathy moved the family to Summerland BC in 1945. He is survived by his children: Carol (Jeff Mellows) Abernathy, Gary (Joan) Abernathy, Glenda Brunelle, Sharon (Brian) Gray, Robert (Lisa) Abernathy; grandchildren: Matthew (Michelle) Brunelle, Jesse (April) Brunelle, David (Annie) Brunelle, Charity Brunelle, Joanna Brunelle, Benjamin (Alexis) Abernathy, Brian (Nora Bragg) Abernathy, Jacqueline (Liam McConkey) Abernathy, Jaime Abernathy (Michael Kristensen), Daniel Mellows, Stephen Mellows (Gregory Elzinga), Selina (Derek) Metcalfe, Brandy (Victor) Dudas, Nathan (Erin) Gerstmeyer, Patrick (Lynn) Abernathy, Katreena Abernathy; step-grandchildren: Sean (Brandy) Mellows, Claire (Ken) Ireland, Daniel (Kristina) Vigue, Christopher (Robyn) Vigue, Justin (Sarah) Vigue; great-grandchildren: Ethan, Selah, Jared, Peter, Kaitlyn, Tessa, Rylee, Luke, Charlie, Olivia, Mya, Lyla, Jorja, Mila, Laina, Brody, James, Nicholas, Parker, Claire, Emma, Tobin, Bryce Leslie, Zoe. As uncle to many nieces and nephews, Les’s laughter and acceptance were appreciated by all in his immediate and extended family.
Les met his high school sweetheart Jean May in Summerland in 1945, and they were married in 1951. They enjoyed 59 years together until Jean’s death on Dec.4, 2010. He was also predeceased by his father Benjamin, mother Eveline, sister Dorothy and brother-in-law Ray Mayert, son-in-law René, and grandchildren Michael, Cherise, and Peter.
A lonely man after Jean’s death, Les met recently widowed Grace MacDougall. She became his special friend and travel companion on many road trips throughout Western Canada.
Les was very involved in the communities that he lived in with Jean and the children. Les was an ordained minister and lay minister pastoring churches in Crawford Bay, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Giscome, Hart Highway near Prince George, and Armstrong. He also worked in many other jobs to feed the family as the life of a small-town minister was not one of affluence. While in Giscome, he fulfilled a boyhood dream of learning to fly a small plane, and subsequently introduced many others to the joy of flying. In Vernon, he was a long-standing active and innovative member of the Vernon Flying Club.
In 1965, Les and Jean moved to the North Okanagan finally settling in Vernon, BC. He worked many years at Standard Oil/Chevron on 32nd Street as a tradesman mechanic, then service manager for Key Motors until purchasing Triangle Shell in 1977. Les and Jean ran the business for 17 years and had one of the first Shell convenience stores with the now familiar gas bar configuration. He was a designated professional witness for Crown Council, ICBC, and the RCMP. He later found early retirement not to his liking and purchased Golden Delivery Services Ltd that he ran with his wife Jean until his retirement.
Les was involved in many community positions: Civil Defense Coordinator for the North Okanagan; Director of Provincial Emergency Program, Air Wing of Search and Rescue; Chair of Vernon Winter Carnival Good Citizen Committee; Designated Representative for the oversight of the expansion of Kelowna/Vernon airport in the late 80’s and early 90’s; Consulting/Mentor member for the North Okanagan Community Futures and Federal Business Development Program; Long-standing member of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, sitting on the board of directors in many of those years; Involved with the churches of Vernon to start the “Mission” society. He also helped many other charitable organizations around the community: United Way, Gideons, North Okanagan Gleaners Society, and would assist formally or informally in whatever way he could.
There was a family-centered service for Les under the direction of Bethel Funeral Chapel Ltd and Pastor Gary Glanz held on Monday, May 9th, when he was laid to rest beside his wife Jean in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery. Thank you to the local formation flying group “The Snowflakes”, who performed a spectacular fly-past to honour a fallen fellow-pilot. Attending mourners responded by singing the gospel song “I’ll Fly Away”.
A public memorial service will be held at the Church of God, May 28th 2:30 PM, located at 4312 25th Street Vernon BC. Those wishing to make donations to honor Leslie Lee Abernathy can do so with the Gideons International, the Vernon Flying Club, The Mission, The Salvation Army, or the charity of their choice.
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