In the large Dalin family, everyone had a favourite uncle. His name was Uncle Will.
Our dear uncle, John William Dalin, left us on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.
He had no children of his own, but nothing was more important to him than family. He loved his 23 nieces and nephews, their spouses, and extensive offspring and they loved him. Amazingly, he remembered the names of all 50 great-nieces and nephews and most of their children as well.
William, Will, or Bill, as he was known, was a tremendous athlete, playing baseball, badminton and tennis. He was recognized as a formidable opponent in badminton circles across Canada.
In 1977, at age 49, William won the Canadian National Championship Badminton Senior Men’s Singles. A year later, he won the Canadian National Masters Men’s Singles, a feat that had not been done in successive years before. He also won the Canadian Mixed Doubles in 1978, partnered with Joyce Jones. The full list of his tournament championships is too lengthy to list. He was, however, inducted into the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame for his achievements.
Will was a fierce competitor who loved to win, but he was also the ultimate gentleman. He started playing badminton when he was 14 years old in the North Shuswap community hall. He went on to teach many of his nieces and nephews the love of racquet sports, even building his own tennis court and badminton hall on brother Chris’s property in Celista where most of us learned to play.
Uncle Will was born on his parents’ homestead in Celista, B.C. on Sept. 11, 1927. He was the third of four boys in a family that started with three girls. He was the last surviving member of his beloved family, predeceased by Elsie, Annie, Winnie, Dan, Karl, and Chris. He is survived by two sisters-in-law, Yvonne (Paul) and Mildred, who remained dear friends to the end.
For children, his Celista home was a joy to visit. They were either directed to his full candy dish or taken outside to his garden where he would pull new carrots, brush off the dirt and hand them over. Adults were treated to his warm hospitality and intelligent conversation, interspersed with the jokes he so enjoyed telling.
He was a man who connected with people from all walks of life. All you needed was a sense of humour. He had impeccable comedic timing, impersonation abilities, and a quick wit. He loved to sing and also learned the accordion as an adult, to the delight of children who danced while he played.
Will was known as Bill to his railroad union brothers. He was a proud employee of CP Rail for more than 40 years. He started as a fireman and then was a locomotive engineer. Railroaders had a unique and close relationship and it was important to him to stay connected even after his retirement. He was an active member of the CP Rail Pensioners, faithfully attending meetings right up to his death. He served as president and vice president for many years.
He was a strong supporter of the CCF and NDP, but he had no rancour for people with different political views.
Will learned a love of cards on the homestead and was a skilled bridge and crib player. Later, he extended that into poker. He was a regular at the casino, but always brilliantly knowing his limit. He is one of the few who can say he won more than he lost. The dealers in Kamloops and in Silver Reef will miss his quiet presence at their table.
He fished from spring to late fall, heading out in his aluminum fishing boat long before any other fisher was stirring. In the fall, he went on an annual hunting trip, often with a brother or nephew (in-laws too) in tow. More than the hunt itself, he revelled in building a rough lean-to for cover, conjuring up meals on a cookstove, and the card games around a fire.
He lived a joyous and full life, travelling to many parts of the world for badminton competitions or to watch ball games. He believed in community, serving on the North Shuswap cemetery committee and then on the North Shuswap Historical Society where his fabulous memory was so valuable in preserving photos and stories of pioneers.
Uncle lived independently in his home on the shores of the Shuswap Lake until a year ago when he went into Parkside Assisted Living in Chase. Thank you to the Parkside team for the loving care they provided Uncle Will, as they worked so hard to keep him at home. He had a wonderful year with them.
Goodbye, uncle, you were everything a person should be – truly a good man with a fantastic sense of humour and a most loving heart.
A celebration of life will take place on Aug. 4 at 3 p.m. at the North Shuswap Community Hall in Celista.