It is with sad hearts that we announce the passing of James Dudley George Wallbridge on Friday September 25, 2015. Jim was born in Lampman Saskatchewan on May 27, 1926, the only child of Catherine (MacDonald) and Joseph Wallbridge. During his childhood, his father’s career as a manager with the Bank of Montreal took the family all over the prairies and finally to Edmonton, Alberta. In his youth he enjoyed sailing, skiing, music, photography, and mountain climbing. He graduated from the University of Alberta in 1948 with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree. He was an active member of the Kinsmen Club. He worked in the Department of Public Works Canada, including for a time as a private consultant, but ultimately settled into a long career with the Department of Public Works. Various jobs and promotions again took him across the prairies, with time spent in Calgary, Medicine Hat, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. He became a specialist in building structures in the difficult conditions of the arctic. Jim was a life member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta and the Alpine Club of Canada. Despite his many moves across western Canada, he developed several life-long friendships over the years.
After work, Jim loved nothing more than to spend time with his wife and three children. Sunday mornings often involved everyone piling into the car to go for “a drive”, usually with jazz music playing on the CBC. Many happy memories followed from summer vacations in the station wagon; once again from trips all across the prairies. These vacations often followed the same formula: 300 miles a day, find the most interesting museum in town (or a hydro-electric project), and then look for a motel with a play structure. An especially favoured activity was to a follow a gravel road up hill somewhere until you couldn’t drive any farther.
Retiring to Nelson BC in 1986, Jim pursued his favourite pastimes of skiing, golfing, sailing, volunteering, and travel. Gardening was not his forte but he was a master composter, a craft to which he dedicated the same intellectualism and attention to detail that made him an effective engineer. Many a Nelson garden benefited from his magic product. Jim liked order in his life; he always planned ahead and always read the instructions before starting a project. He was also a forward-looking thinker and inspired by science and social justice. He was singularly unprejudiced towards other people, often against the grain of the times in which he lived. He was committed to the safety and security of his family and many of his financial plans for this day started decades ago. Jim valued the pursuit of education, which he believed made life more interesting and meaningful. He was always reading a book. He felt that tomorrow always offered something new to discover.
Jim was a two-time cancer survivor. He always thought that he would die younger, like his father, but to his surprise the life force within him was always resilient. His last couple of years living with Parkinson’s syndrome in a personal care home were difficult for him. When his body began to fail he could no longer walk and speaking was difficult. Despite this, his mind remained essentially intact and he remained fully connected with those who loved him until the end, especially his wife and life-long partner Shirley who visited him twice a day. She was with him when he finally grew too weary to continue his fight against his illness. He is pre-deceased by his parents and a son-in-law, Joe Harwood. He leaves to mourn him his wife of 57 years Shirley (nee Gilchrist); his children Hal (Trish), Anne, and Kevin; and two grandchildren Matthew and Sarah. Also remembering Jim will be many relatives and old friends.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of Jim’s life is planned for next summer in Manitoba.
Jim’s motto “Love one another and help those in need. Regardless of colour, race,
church or creed.”
Megan Johnson of Thompson Funeral Service, Nelson has been entrusted with the cremation arrangements.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.thompsonfs.ca