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Herb McGilveary

Rhody Family Funeral Home

George Malcolm Herbert “Herb” was born on Tuesday, November 29, 1932 in Chesley to parents Dan and Catherine “Electa” May (Hill) McGilveary.  Herb was the eldest child of ten; Herb, Blanche, Nelson, Murray, Reta, Dean, Lyle, Lawrence, Sharon and Vern. Herb’s father’s first wife died young leaving two little girls; Jean and Mazie. Thus Herb had two older half siblings.

The McGilveary family farmed on the 20th Sideroad (of Elderslie Township) and the children attended a one room school, S.S. #9 Elderslie. Once he finished grade eight, Herb left and never went back. Instead, he went to work, helping his dad on the farm. Herb also helped a variety of farmers in the Dobbinton area to make additional money. He began working for John Black on his farm, where he remained for the next nine years. During this time, Herb helped care for, and showed cattle for the Black family. Following this Herb had an opportunity to work for Sandy Contracting in Goderich. Here, he worked long fourteen hour days, 5 – 6 days a week, spending his time off in a bunk house which came with its own cook!

In 1965 a great job, with Elderslie Township, presented itself. Here, Herb worked for the Township, however much of his time was spent grading, and plowing the Township roads. During this job, Herb quickly knew every person who lived on every road in the Township. When Herb worked for the township, when it snowed, it really snowed.  There were times when snow was almost as high as the hydro wires. There was at least once when he opened up a driveway for a couple that was trying to get to the hospital because the wife was in labour. Herb enjoyed working for, and with, the people of Elderslie Township as well as the workers on Council. He worked hard and served his community well. He started the job thinking that he would stay for 5 years, but that turned into 30 years. A job truly well done.

In 1966, Herb began renting a trailer on a farm on the outskirts of Chesley, on Bruce County Road 19. Herb was a client at the C.I.B.C. bank in Chesley, where he met Elizabeth Catherine “Lib” Harvie, one of the bank tellers. In time, they began dating and were married on June 2, 1967 at the Chesley Baptist Church. Once married, Herb and Lib bought their first home in Chesley. The two bought their homefarm south of Chesley in 1968. While working hard to grow the farm, Herb and Lib soon began their family, welcoming their son, Steve in 1970 and daughter, Susan in 1973. Through their busy schedules, they made time to visit family in the States, and yearly trips to London as a family. Sometimes on hot summer days, the family would enjoy a trip to the Port Elgin Beach to cool off.

In addition to working for the Township, Herb followed in his father’s footsteps, and also enjoyed farming. Herb would take off summer holidays from the Township so he could dedicate his time to doing hay and other field work that needed to be completed. Herford’s were his breed of choice and for the next twenty-plus years he managed a cow/calf operation of about seventy at any given time. Herb and Lib dedicated many hours to building the farm into what it became, putting in countless hours and having help from Steve and each of their nephews. It became a McGilveary family right of passage to spend at least one summer helping Uncle Herb on the farm. Herb retired from the Township in 1992 and spent more time at home on the farm.

Herb truly loved being a labourer of the land. He spent many hours on the land planting, cutting, and baling hay. Herb didn’t regularly attend church, but he always said that in the field, on the tractor, was where he was closest to God. Herb cared for his herd and was knowledgeable in his occupation. Over the years he delivered, cared for, and raised hundreds of cattle. He even had a way of calling the cattle when he wanted them to come to him. Knowing the cows were going to prove to be too much, Herb sold the cattle in 2000, prior to his hip surgery, whereby he could enjoy retirement a bit more.

When some people retire, they don’t know how to fill their time. At first, he had a hard time slowing down, however, in time it became very enjoyable and easy for Herb. He began driving for the Canadian Cancer Society, driving patients to their cancer treatments in Owen Sound for over 10 years. He also drove for Meals on Wheels with Lib, and offered rides to many in the Amish community to where they needed to go, including quite a few trips to the hospital to have their babies, along with assisting them with the Annual School auction. After attending dance lessons, Herb and Lib attended dances and jamborees all over Bruce County, meeting a lot of new friends along the way. On their way home, they would stop at a McDonalds or Tim Hortons for a coffee, often running into people they knew. Herb and Lib also joined the Chesley Agricultural Society and helped with Jamborees and the Annual Chesley Fall Fair. They enjoyed being a part of their community. Most nights, Herb and Lib would often attend baseball games, or other sporting events of their children, grandchildren, or great-nephews. Lib and Herb took 30 bus trips with Hanover Holiday, mostly to the US; Branson, Nashville, Texas and Myrtle Beach. They also went to the East Coast and travelled primarily with Ivan and Shirley McDougall and Bob and Joyce Ford.

Whether you knew Herb or not, if you ran into him on the street, or on a bench at the mall waiting for his family, you quickly would become a long lost relative or a best friend of Herb’s. Herb had the gift of the gab. His family often had a hard time getting him out of places, as he would be sitting talking to strangers, when he was the one who didn’t want to go in the first place! Believe it or not, Herb would tell people that he was shy… That is hard to believe! Herb enjoyed a drink of Grant’s or Glenfiddich Scotch, mainly on three occasions… His birthday, Steve’s birthday, or Christmas Eve. Not every time would he splurge and buy the expensive scotch. Sometimes, in Herb’s mind, the cheaper the better, no matter how much it burned going down! Herb also enjoyed indulging in a green beer with his family on St. Patrick’s Day. Like most farmers, Herb enjoyed his meat and potatoes, but also enjoyed a turkey dinner, BBQs on the deck, and a snack of dry roasted peanuts. No matter how he was feeling, a McDonald’s cheeseburger could make any day better, especially with his special way of eating it! To eat a cheeseburger like Herb, all you have to do is take your hand, and press it as hard as you can onto the burger, making it as flat as possible! When he retired, Herb had more time to spend in the kitchen with Lib, helping to peel the potatoes.

Old country music was definitely a favourite of Herb’s, with Ann Murray and Charlie Pride being some of his favourites. AM 920 was always on the radio. During retirement, Herb began growing vegetables and gardening. He was always happy to share his home-grown lettuce with whoever stopped by for a visit. When Herb got older he enjoyed watching the birds at his bird feeders out the window in the front room at their home. Herb always had a piece of baler twine or black wire in his pocket. If neither of these could fix the problem, it probably wasn’t worth fixing.  Herb and Lib had an open-door policy.  If you came to visit, you were never turned away, and there was always a pot of coffee waiting for you, and a bed to sleep in.

Although farming was his passion, his true love was his family. Herb was happiest when his family was together. For years Herb and Lib hosted his mom’s birthday party in May and the McGilveary Christmas in November. The family would filter in and through the home finding a spot to sit, eat and chat wherever they could. It filled their hearts to hear the chatter and laughter of everyone. Herb and Lib were attached at the hip, doing everything together, and just enjoying being in each other’s company. They truly were a match made in Heaven, and complimented each other so well. Herb & Lib hosted a family breakfast every Sunday morning for their kids and grandkids. The smell of bacon filled their home, and Steve would cook the eggs for everyone.  After eating Herb loved listening to Marissa play the piano.

Herb and Lib were so proud of their children, adored their children’s partners, and were even happier the day their grandchildren were born. Herb and Lib would drive anywhere to watch their sporting events and take them to McDonald’s and for ice cream. Herb and Lib were so content and prideful when Chloe and Madeline went to University. It was a big adjustment for everyone, but they made the best of it. They missed them dearly when they would head off to school but loved them enough to support them and let them spread their wings. Herb and Lib enjoyed having Owen and Marissa over for sleepovers. The kids enjoyed their trips to McDonald’s for lunch. While Grandma and Grandpa were chatting with their friends, the kids would play in the PlayPlace. After returning back to the farm, they would play Crokinole and Monopoly and just enjoy each other’s company. Sleepovers were always memorable. Herb was honest, devoted, hard-working, caring, and good-natured. Herb never valued items, he valued his family and his friends, and the time he got to spend with each of them. It was always the simple things in life that made him the happiest. Herb had graced his family with many words of wisdom over the years. Some of those thoughts are:

  • It’s a long road without a bend in it
  • Hard work never hurt anyone
  • There’s no sense in complaining, no one will listen anyway
  • Your handshake and your word should mean something
  • You’ll never know if you like it unless you try it
  • Don’t worry about anyone else’s doorstep, until you make sure your own is clean.
  • Kids are only little once
  • You can never have too many friends
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
  • You’re only as busy as you decide to be
  • As long as I’m here I’m gonna have fun
  • Never get yourself in more trouble then you can get yourself out of

I think it is safe to say that these are words we should all live by, and think of Herb as we do it!

Herb’s health started to decline in August of last year, and after a three month stay in the Chesley Hospital, he moved into his new home at the Hanover Care Centre in November of 2022. His family always knew he was in good hands, as the staff there treated him with love and respect. Sadly, in the past few weeks, Herb’s health had taken a turn, and he passed away at the Hanover Care Centre with his family by his side on Monday, August 28, 2023, in his 91st year.

Loving father of Steve (Marcia) and Susan (Kent) Stuempfle, all of Chesley. Cherished grandfather of Chloe, Madeline, Owen, and Marissa. Dear brother of Reta Steward, Blanche Beckett, Sharon and Art Becker, Murray McGilveary, Lawrence and Arlene McGilveary, brothers-in-law Bob Ford and Don McAllister, and sister-in-law Lorraine McGilveary. He will be missed by many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

Herb was predeceased by his wife Elizabeth “Lib” (Harvie), his siblings Dean, Lyle (Sue), Nelson, Jean (Stan) Powell, Mazie (Russell) Jones, Vern, Alex (in infancy); his brothers and sisters-in-law Lorne Subject, Ray Beckett, Marion McAllister, Donna McGilveary, Bev Steward, Shirley and Edgar Fischer, Joyce Ford and his parents Dan and Catherine “Electa” (Hill) McGilveary.

A private memorial service will be held with inurnment in Chesley Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Chesley Baptist Church or the Chesley Medical Clinic would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

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