Fallen Comrades (retired members)

Humphrey Bogart

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OBITUARY FOR WILLIAM BRANCH

William Blair Branch, CD, MS (Ret), 56 of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia formerly of Bathurst, New Brunswick peacefully passed on October 11, 2019 at the Dartmouth General Hospital after a brief illness with family at his side. Born October 19, 1962, the second son of Norman William and the late Ethel Joyce (Scott) Branch.

He is survived by his daughter Nicole Erin Branch of Truro Nova Scotia and survived by brothers Kenneth (Monique) of Clifton, NB, Robert of Oakbank, MB and sister Chantal Tycholiz (Ronald) of Kenora, ON. He is also survived by nieces and nephew, Charlene, Samantha, Jenna, and Jayden.

Billy graduated from Bathurst High School in 1982 then pursued the Youth Training Employment Program with the Canadian Armed Forces and decided to join the regular forces in 1983 as a Naval Steward. MS Branch’s career included postings from CFS Shelburne, NS to CFB Esquimalt, BC. During these postings he served on the HMCS Athabascan, Iroquois, Preserver, and the Vancouver. His naval NATO and Peacekeeping tours included; CFS Alert (x2), Adriatic Sea (x2), Afghanistan (x1). He participated in the Cross Canada International Tattoo in 1985. After 24 years of dedicated service to Queen and country MS Branch was honorably discharged. During his retirement Billy took up employment with the Corps of Commissioners in the City of Halifax. In his spare time, you would find Billy tending to his immaculate kept yard, waxing his Ford trucks and loving his cats. He was full of life, and when Billy walked in a room his bright smile warmed the place. He will be deeply missed by all who have had the opportunity to know him.

Our family send heartfelt thanks to the physicians and staff at the Dartmouth General Hospital; 3 West for their professionalism and dedication during this difficult time.

There will be no visitation. Billy’s wishes a committal of ashes at sea with a celebration of life; time and place to be determined.

Donations in the memory of Billy may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Arrangements are in the care of A. L. Mattatall Funeral Home, Dartmouth. To view or leave a condolence please visit: www.mattatallfuneralhome.com

Billy's parents were my next door neighbours for my entire childhood.  All his brothers also served in the CAF and his sister Chantal is married to a former Combat Engineer.

Great bunch of people who loved their trucks and family.  Found memories of Billy waxing his truck meticulously every Saturday!

 

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Edward Campbell

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Deeply sad to learn of the death, at age 92, of my mentor and, I daresay, friend, Colonel Don Strong.

Don enlisted in the Canadian Army, in The Royal Canadian Regiment, during World War II. He was selected for commissioning and was part of the Royal Military College's "New One Hundred" Class of 1952 - the first graduating class when the college reopened at the end of World War Two.  Upon graduation, as an electrical engineer, he went back to war, this time in Korea, as a Signal Officer.

I worked for Don a couple of times ~ he was a hard task-master but, unfailingly kind and willing to explain why he always wanted things done the right way, the first time and why it was even more important to do the right thing rather than just doing things right. In one particular instance, I recall that he gave me leave to follow a somewhat risky course of staff action and then stood up to a group of sceptical very senior officers to defend me because he was convinced that I was doing what the Army needed, even if my solution to a problem was unconventional. 

Don and his lovely wife Jeannie were, very simply, good people ~ examples to us all. He shall be sorely missed.
 

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Edward Campbell

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I'm very sad to learn of the death of my longtime friend and mentor and, once CO, Col W.E. Bill Grant.

Here's the official stuff:

After a life well-lived, Bill passed away peacefully at home by his wife’s side on Remembrance Day.  A fitting timing for a Veteran who proudly devoted 41 years of service to his country.  Bill was predeceased by his parents, sister, niece Joanne Hogarth and his first wife Suzanne.  His memory will be forever cherished by his wife Ruth Matte and stepson Simon Matte.  His dry humour, kindness, gentlemanly spirit and generosity will be missed by his nieces and nephews, Annabelle Hogarth and Grant Hogarth and their families.  Bill was also instantly embraced by Ruth’s “Clark” family of 35+ brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and nephews and all their friends as well.  Bill’s special bond with Ruth’s brother Oliver, and his wife Sharon Clark, was one of his most important retirement friendships.  They totally enriched each other’s life.  Plus Oliver transformed Bill into the Perley Day Program’s billiards shark at age 83!

Bill was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and graduated from UBC with a degree in History.  He had over 37 years commissioned service in the Canadian Armed Forces in tactical command control, communications and intelligence.  Eighteen of these years were out-of-country: residing in six countries and representing/officially visiting an additional 20 countries on behalf of Canada.  His career was highlighted by several notable assignments including serving as Second-in-Command 56 Canadian Signal Squadron, United Nations Emergency Force, Egypt, as well as a series of increasingly senior appointments: Commanding Officer, 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters & Signal Squadron, Soest and Lahr Germany.  Chief, Policy and Requirements Branch, NATO HQ; Canadian Forces Attaché, Prague, Czechoslovakia (pre-democracy period) and Canadian Forces Attaché in Seoul, Korea.  During his five years in Seoul, he also served as Chief, Canadian Liaison Group to the United Nations Command and a Member of the Military Armistice Commission, Panmunjon.  His final posting found him back in Ottawa as Director, Foreign Liaison for the Department of National Defence.

Bill then spent 5 years as the Director, Canadian Business Development for TRW Canada before being promoted to General Manager.  In his business capacity he met Ernst & Young’s Senior Principal Consultant, Ruth Matte, and their 30-year journey began instantaneously.  Ruth was thrilled to go along for the ride.

In lock-step with his military life, his retirement life with Ruth was non-stop, insatiable, full-throttle, laced with joy and an enthusiasm for travel and fine dining.  He had a voracious appetite to read everything he could get his hands on, and embraced each day as an adventure in the making.  Bill and Ruth travelled constantly. From working in an orphanage in the jungles of Guatemala to almost every cruise itinerary that Holland America offers; to Clippers-ship yachts in the Caribbean and a month in French Polynesia; to every Caribbean island (even one with only sand and 1 palm tree); and to Europe, Middle East, Asia, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Black Sea, Russia, Scandinavia, South America, many trips to Hawaii – the list goes on.  Winters were often spent in Portugal or Florida.  Bill wanted to enjoy and learn, to the fullest extent possible, from every second of his life.  As everyone who knew him says “he was special”!   He was a soldier, a scholar, a true gentleman, kind and generous.  An honourable man indeed.

Visitation will be private.  Due to government-imposed restrictions related to COVID-19, attendance at the graveside service with military presence at the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Armed Forces is restricted to a limited number of individuals, personally invited by the family.  You are most welcome to attend the service through a livestream broadcast on Friday, November 27 at 2 p.m.  The link will be made available shortly on this website.

As an expression of sympathy, memorial donations may be made to the Military C&E Museum, your local humane society or a charity of your choice.

Bill was always, and equally: kind and acerbic, a friend and a relentless critic, and a jolly good companion and a very private person.

We worked well together in both the field (4CMBG HQ and Sigs) where Bill disapproved of my methods but admitted that they worked better than anything else. We also worked well, even better, on the staff where Bill, even though he always outranked me, was more than willing to take 'operational' direction from a Tech Staff officer because he suspected that I knew what I was doing.

   
 

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