William (Bill) Frank Hesketh was born in Cupar, Saskatchewan, on September 30th, 1932, and passed away at Vernon Jubilee Hospital on November 5th, 2010, at the age of 78. As he had so often done with our car and boat, he finally ran out of gas himself as he succumbed to both Leukemia and Alzheimer’s. His family was by his side and our last visit was filled with love, some favourite memories, many tears and a few laughs.
Bill was predeceased by his parents Frank & Gladys, brother Richard and nephew Rob and is survived by his loving wife Pat of 52 years, sister Florence plus sons David (Diana), Steve (Eileen) and Mark (Karin) and grandchildren Samantha, Jordan, James, Tyler, Jason, Ryan, Sara plus little Dylan as well as many nephews and nieces.
In his rebellious youth he left his hometown prematurely to finish high school in Chilliwack under his brother’s supervision. On the train ride west he was introduced to the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, so he jumped off the train at Lake Louise and became a summer horseback guide to destinations like Skoki Lodge and Lake O’Hara. Wilf Carter with his drinking buddies was one of his favorite trail rides each year. Horses, the Rockies, butter tarts and occasionally smoking a pipe were just some of his favourite things.
Bill met the love of his life Pat, through downtown Vancouver’s United Church Young Adults Group and they wed on August 23rd, 1958. While working for the John Howard Society (JHS) counseling death row inmates, Bill earned his Diploma in Social Work at UBC. In 1961 Bishop Sovereign led an interdominational team to bring the work of John Howard to the Interior and they sent Bill and his family to Vernon where they settled for good.
Bill was best known as the Executive Director for the JHS and Founder of Howard House & Howard Industries. However his community involvement included much more. He helped found the Vernon Boys Club, North Okanagan & Kelowna Social Planning Councils, Vernon chapter of Big Brothers, Vernon Justice Council and People Place. Further to that he was an enthusiastic Rotarian for over 40 years with a stint as President of Vernon Rotary Club and eventually being honoured with the Paul Harris Fellow Award.
He served on many Boards including Trinity United Church, Camp Hurlburt, O’Keefe Ranch, Corrections Canada, National Parole Board, Canadian Red Cross, Okanagan Halfway House, Elizabeth Fry Society, Western Canada Wilderness and BC Inter-Faith committee and a few more. One of his crowning achievements was when the Solicitor General asked him to represent BC on a Federal Prison Review Board that led to the closure of the infamous BC Pen.
Amongst the many accolades, a few of them stand out. The Canadian Parliament recognized him with the Certificate of Merit, and JHS gave him their first National Award for Humanitarian Service. Recently he was honoured with the naming of Bill’s Place at the Gateway Homeless Men’s Shelter.
Retirement brought with it the fulfillment of some big dreams including their home on Lake Okanagan plus a number of big trips around the world. The crowning trip was to southern Africa where Bill and Pat camped in luxury beside a busy watering hole, surrounded by the African wilderness.
All of us in the family will remember Bill as our happy Buddha. He was a counselor and a mentor who made a real difference in the lives of those he met. He had a wonderful sense of humour and a great ability to bridge people and their differences.
But most of all, he loved his family, especially his grandchildren. We will miss his hugs and his words of wisdom.
A Celebration of Bill Hesketh’s life will be held at Trinity United Church at 2pm, Friday November 12th, with a reception to follow. As an expression of sympathy and in lieu of flowers, he would encourage you to support your community with your time, or you can make a donation to either the Rotary Foundation (www.Rotary.org) or a charity of your choice. He would often tell you that YOU can make a difference.
Please join us online and share your memories of Bill. Log on to vernonfuneralhome.com and click on his name.