The Royal Canadian Legion Branch #260-100 Mile House lost one of its founding members this year and will be paying tribute to him during a Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11.
Gordon Thorsteinson, who died on Sept. 1 at the age of 97, was a member of the Air Force serving in England during the Second World War. A longtime 100 Mile House resident, Thorsteinson was a proud member of the Royal Canadian Legion for almost 60 years. Throughout most of that time he dedicated himself to helping veterans, especially those “who were down and out.”
Legion Branch #260 president Bob Wangensteen says Thorsteinson was “a real driving force” in the organization.
“The Legion has a great deal of respect for him and his family.”
A Remembrance Day parade starts at 10:30 a.m. on Birch Avenue culminating with a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the 100 Mile Community Hall.
Among scenes from World War I, World War II and the Korean War, Thorsteinson is one of the Legion Branch #260 members, along with Ernie Sampson, depicted in a mural on a wall of the 100 Mile Community Hall.
During the Second World War, Thorsteinson was an aircraft mechanic based in Darlington, a town in northeast England, where he serviced the large Handley Page Halifax bombers. There he met his wife Pat, who worked in a bullet factory, before moving back to British Columbia after the war.
Brian Thorsteinson recalls a rather chilling story his parents told from those days. His mom and dad would lie in bed together and would listen for the drone of the Halifax bombers as they departed on bombing missions. Then they would listen for how many returned.
“They knew how many went out,” Brian explains.
“Let’s say there would be 20 bombers that went out and 18 came back. You hope to count 20, but most of the time you didn’t.”
In his later years, Thorsteinson spent Remembrance Day at Mill Site Lodge and Fischer Place in 100 Mile House with his family.
“It’s always been a part of family life in our home to pay tribute,” says Brian, recognizing this will be the first Remembrance Day without his dad. “It’s certainly going to be an all new experience after that many years of participating with him.”