Alan Saunders

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Alan Gordon was born on Thursday, February 5, 1931 in York Township to Gordon and Verna (Armstrong) Saunders. He was the oldest of three children with younger siblings Yvonne “Bonnie” and Kenneth.

Alan was schooled at D.B. Hood Community School, York Memorial Collegiate Institute and Ryerson Technical School taking Master Carpentry. Alan completed his five-year apprenticeship working in the city for Dave Zeggil. In fact, most of his apprenticeship was spent constructing the Kodiak Building on Eglington West. When reminiscing about those years Alan often said that Dave was a hard taskmaster but boy did he learn a lot. This working relationship flourished into a life-long friendship.

At the age of sixteen, Alan came to know a young woman by the name of Joan Dorothy Priscilla Harrison. Joan and her family were friends with Alan’s cousin Barb and her parents Amy and Howard. Joan's father had built a cottage at Lake Simcoe which was beside Amy and Howard's. Well, with time the relationship flourished and on November 4, 1950 Joan and Alan were married at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church at the corner of Eglinton Avenue and Dufferin Street.

For the first year of their marriage, Joan and Alan lived in an apartment. Following that they bought a piece of property at Jane and Wilson and Alan built their first home. The city continued to grow, with some of the homes in their area appropriated for the expansion of the 401 series of highways. Luckily their home was not chosen, but the writing was on the wall. This move upset Joan greatly, however, it was in the best interest of their family moving forward. The young couple moved to King City with their three children; Lynne (1951), Cheryl (1955), and Stephen (1961).

For the next ten years, Alan worked at Bradford Horshal Contracting. Soon after he ventured out and began his own business, Al Saunders Carpentry. However, Alan had dreams of becoming a firefighter from youth and he soon returned to school and became the newest member of the North York Fire Department. This turned out to be the best of both worlds because, given his work schedule as a firefighter, Alan was able to make time to continue working as a carpenter. He remained with the North York Fire Department for twenty years, never wanting to rise through the ranks as he valued the friendships he had created along the way too much. As one can deduce, friendships were very important to him.

The Saunders were close friends with Jeanie and George Anderson, who lived in Brant Township. The two couples spent many Saturday nights at Legion dances, where they specialized in the Jive and Waltz. Allan really enjoyed the big band music of the 1950’s. It was at this time that Alan was given the task of designing and building Jeanie a new kitchen. During their many trips north, Alan and Joan soon decided that this area would make the perfect home for them as well. In March of 1975, the Saunders bought the Twamley farm on the 8th of Bentinck, near Crawford. Alan was crazy about pigs and their farm soon began taking shape. Over the years, there was only one (make that two!) additions to the livestock, as Joan was given a goat (which she loved! and its kid (which could not be left behind) from Alan for her birthday. Joan soon found work with the Bank of Nova Scotia in Hanover and their new, rural life started to take form. Sadly, in 1988, the bottom fell out of the pig market and they were forced to sell their farm. The couple soon bought a 22-acre parcel of land that became their final home. In a few short years, they severed the property to include two building lots and Alan was tasked with the job of building a home for his sister Bonnie as well as one for Joan and him.

Needless to say, Alan had very little spare time. However, he did enjoy watching outer space programs, game shows and the Toronto Maple Leafs on TV once he had more leisure time. He also enjoyed reading books, especially science fiction and National Geographic and was a member of the local libraries. He spent countless hours maintaining their beautiful property and gardening, watching the birds and tending to his flowers. He also enjoyed a good game of crib, with an occasional game of poker thrown in.

Alan was deeply devoted to others. Joan, his children and grandchildren always came first, but he also made time to deliver and serve meals to those in need. He also was extremely kind to all forms of animals. Whether it was tending to animals on the farm or in more recent years enjoying the companionship of his dog "Misty," he definitely had a soft spot for furry, four-legged friends.

Alan was a loving, sincere, family man. His was strong, wise, and his genuine demeanour was always something to look up too. His dedication to his family had no limits, as he donated a kidney to his daughter, Cheryl, giving her 18 more years of life. Some other memorable stories of Alan included the time when he dug out the entire area for a 16-foot deep swimming pool by hand! You might think that is crazy, but as you will remember Alan cared deeply for his property and he did not want heavy machinery ruining his nicely manicured lawn and flowerbeds... so he did it himself. Imagine!

Joan also told a story of the time when Alan was building their home outside of Chesley. She arrived home to find that he had built an entire temporary staircase for her... to the roof of the house. The reason? Earlier in the day, Alan experienced a beautiful view from the rooftop and he wanted Joan to share this experience. So he spent a few hours building the stairs just to share a few moments with Joan. What devotion! Lastly, both grandsons remember many rides on the lawnmower with grandpa as he mowed the large lawn on the property. These stories along with many others will allow Alan's life and legacy live on for many years to come.

Sadly, in 2001 Alan suffered a massive stroke. In the years that followed his health continued to suffer and he relied heavily on the love, care and support of Joan to remain at home. Her devotion to him was second to none. In December of 2017, Alan made his final move and called The Village in Hanover his home. Here he gained a new support system and extended family that he enjoyed throughout his remaining days.

Alan passed away with Joan by his side, at The Village Senior’s Community on Monday, December 9, 2019 in his 89th year.

Beloved husband of Joan for 69 years. Alan will be dearly missed by his daughter-in-law Shirley Dadson of Kincardine; his grandsons Blake Ground and his wife Sophie Lv of Mississauga and Tyler Saunders of Kincardine. Brother of Kenneth and brother-in-law of Bill Morton and John (Judy) Harrison. Father of Lynne (Fred) Kofler and grandfather of Jeff and Phil. Alan was predeceased by his daughter Cheryl Ground (September 17, 2006), son Stephen (May 9, 2007) son-in-law Bob Ground and his sister Yvonne Morton.

Visitation will be held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Chesley on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 from 11 a.m. until the time of the funeral service at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Grey-Bruce Animal Shelter, Heart & Stroke Foundation or The Kidney Foundation of Canada would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

Send to friend
Randi Varga
December 17, 2019
Please accept my deepest condolences on the passing of your dear husband Al. He was a talented man and I will always be forever grateful for him sharing his vast knowledge of building with my late husband Tim. It was because of Al that Tim decided to make construction his life’s passion.
Bob & Glenys Johnson
December 14, 2019
Please accept our Deepest Sympathy. Alan suffered for so long as did you in caring for him. You were so loving and supportive and Alan knew that. God Bless you Joan.
Eric Jill Joy & Carrie
December 14, 2019
Our condolences to Joan and family, so sorry to hear of Al's passing. I enjoyed our chats and playing crib during our visits. He was always friendly and greeted me with a smile even on his bad days.Take care Joan.
Sandra and Kevin Grubb
December 11, 2019
Our thoughts are with you in this difficult time.
Lee Mink
December 11, 2019
My sympathy Joan on Alans Passing. I enjoyed many good visits with you and Al over the years. He will be greatly missed,

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Our Testimonials

Well Nathan…due to COVID and everything going on, you did an excellent job and you went above and beyond our expectation. COVID changed a lot of things, but in the end we were very satisfied. Thank you! 

Mary Kaufman

I can think of nothing you could have done to better improve our experience. My grandchildren & I all felt relaxed and so appreciated your quiet, excellent care of our family. You provided dignity & caring – so much appreciated. I somehow knew we were in good hands.

Joan Saunders

We were very pleased with everything. So much positive feedback was received! We felt so very supported and cared for throughout!! We would recommend your funeral home in a heartbeat. We were so happy to travel from Barrie to Chesley to have you take care of our John. Thank you all so much!

Margaret Ellis & Family

Because of COVID-19 we had to do the complete service from home via D.V.D. GREAT!

William Hall

I was amazed that I could smell KFC fries when I first walked in at the visitation. That was so lovely. My husband would have loved it. Thank you again for that! 

Sheila Jacobs

[I] have already told many people what an amazing job you did. My entire family and friends couldn’t agree more! Everything was totally looked after. Things I never would have thought of were either done or brought to my attention. Thank you so much for everything you did. It made a really rough time a little easier to handle. Thank you!

Dianne Veen

“One of a kind” service as well as ongoing support! Beyond [our expectations] and Thank You.

Carol Vallie

I received comments on how informative and interesting the life story was. I know how amazing you are!!! I never stop bragging about you !!!

Lynn Jackson & Family

Nathan and his staff are kind, compassionate and gentle as they guide you through the process of celebrating the life of your loved one. My family has worked with Rhody Funeral Home five times now and each time they have went above and beyond to support us and to honour our loved ones. We will be forever grateful for the professional yet personal way they approach funeral planning. Their sincere empathy and passion for helping families during this difficult time of life is a gift.

Sarah Rogers

It was 100%. I got many comments on how things were handled.

Eugene Perkins

Nothing could have been done to better improve my experience. Nathan, I was more than pleased with everything. Thank you.

Morris Galbraith

I found yourselves very helpful and can’t think of anything negative in our experience with yourselves. We were satisfied [nothing could have been done to better serve us, including] also the travel to Tapleytown (Hamilton) at a low cost where the burial took place.

David Kuiper

Everything was perfect. We had many comments on the service and the little personal touches – that makes it special. Keep up the personal touches!!!

Janice Rapp

Nothing comes to my mind as to what you could have done to improve our experience. My whole family was so pleased, as was I, with every detail. All of the details were so well presented and the full staff were so helpful. In terms of pricing, we received what we asked for ten-fold. Every aspect of Jim’s funeral was so well presented and we would certainly pass this on to others. 

Karen Siegrist

There was nothing that could have been improved. (Except the weather!) The prices were reasonable, especially with the services provided. Thank you so very much. With such a large family, everyone was very pleased on professionalism and presentation.

Terrilea Fidler

I don’t think there is anything more you could have done. Everything was so professionally done, in our experience. I don’t know any place that goes the extra mile to help families accommodate their needs. Nothing could have been improved. We could not have been more satisfied.

Reta Steward

It felt as if you had met and knew John! All of us agreed that John would have approved. Many friends commented on how lovely the service was and how it suited John.

Cathie Stauffer

I really can’t think of anything you could have done to better improve our experience. The only other funeral that I helped arrange was for my father, and at that time I didn’t get the same sense of professionalism or sympathy. Nathan was willing to accept our suggestions, and also to “take the lead” in showing us the next step and what was expected, even to putting details of the funeral into my computer!

Martie Dorland

You did a wonderful job from start to finish. I can’t think of anything you need to improve on. Great job! Helping us to wade through the government forms was great! Saved us a lot of anxiety. We will definitely recommend your funeral home. Wonderful service with kind and caring staff. 

Carol Ryan

I don’t see how you can improve exceptional services. Whatever was necessary on your part to provide was done without question. You eliminated much paperwork and guided us through a painful process with empathy and professionalism. 

Donna Jones-Baldwin

I feel the professional quality of services my family received was second to none.

Kim Moylan

Nathan, I can’t tell you how much your care and support has meant to my whole family. You obviously take great pride in the service you provide. I can’t think of anything you could have done to help us more. You, your mom and Terri-Ann make an excellent team. I had so many compliments on the set up and the service. I sing your praises to everyone who asks. Keep up the fantastic work.

Ruth Stephen and family

It was exceptional how Nathan opened our hearts and minds to give info; then transferred into so many ‘on target’ ways. Also very comforting and understanding to us all. Many comments, impressed, liked all that was done, respectful family-like atmosphere at all times. Especially kind to young members of family as well. Above and totally beyond expectation – Thanks.

Mary Harrison

What one thing could we have done better to improve your experience?
Nothing, we were very happy with services and support provided to our family. Well done. We really appreciated everything that was done for us and how well it was done.

Don MacDermid

Overall I am extremely pleased. Your kind, caring and professional services went above what I expected. All our needs were met satisfactorily and more.

Barbara Aikens

Everything was done so professionally that I don’t think anything else could have been done.

Joy Pitman

You go above and beyond with your services and expertise and compassion.

Judy Charlton

You have succeeded in taking the sadness out of a funeral and made it into a celebration of life and remembrance, which we truly appreciated... Continue doing what you did for us. It was exceptional in every regard.

Marlowe Emke

Our law office often has had many estates involving families who have obtained funeral services from Nathan. He is regarded by my staff and myself as outstanding for his professional, pleasant, and efficient manner. We would highly recommend Rhody Family Funeral Home to anyone.

Ross McLean, McLean Lawyers

Dear Nathan, I cannot say thank you enough for everything you and the rest of the Rhody Family Funeral Home team done for our family with Mom's passing. From the moment you got to Mom's house your professionalism was second to none. You listened and read between the lines yet missed nothing, every little touch was simply perfect, you left nothing undone, your care and compassion to ensure our family made Mom proud one more time, and for that I am forever grateful. You took a very difficult time for us and made it as simple and stress free for us as humanly possible. Nathan you should be very proud of yourself and the rest of your team. You have definitely set the bar very high for any other funeral home in the province to follow. Again thank you

Sincerely, Deb and Doug

Nathan: Thank you so very much for all that you have done for my Mom and my family. Your friendship during this difficult time was truly heartfelt. You made us feel welcome and like a part of your family. The whole time we spoke both at the nursing home and then at your place was a very peaceful experience. Not once were we made to feel like we did not belong there. Your attention to detail in everything that all of us said shows in the story of my Dad’s life and the video. Where there were concerns, you set them all at ease. I so appreciate all that you did for my Mom in helping her take care of cancellations and notifications for my Dad. It set her mind at ease knowing that you were taking care of all of this for her. It set me at ease knowing that she would not have to deal with the frustrations that sometimes come in taking care of these things. You and your family have gone above and beyond in all that you have done for us and I am truly thankful. The warmth and caring went home with us that day. We knew that the right choice had been made in allowing you to take care of my Dad. Again, thank you.


Your services are respectful, accomodating and very professional. An excellent job done. Thank you.

Darren Goodayle

Our aunt & uncle were buried from a different funeral home and we noticed a huge difference in the funeral home services provided. Our mom and dad looked so natural (thank you!) while our aunt and uncle did not. Thank you Nathan, we can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate you and your staff this year!

Ann Legge, Patricia Tibbo & Jane Lembke

All the worlds a stage and all the men and women merely players." Rhody Family Funeral Home takes this and runs with it in an intricate and tasteful manner. The beautiful funeral home sets the stage to reflect the deceased's individual personality. Nathan's artistic ability is only surpassed by his compassion, sincerity and understanding. He goes above and beyond the required duties. His staff is second to none. Darlene Rhody soft spoken and sympathetic and Morris Emke gentlemanly and obliging. Pastor Terri-Ann is like no other with her comforting words of wisdom and encouragement and so compassionate. Her service was nothing short of beautiful. A very heartfelt thank you to Nathan and his staff for making an unpleasant experience bearable. And hats off to Rhody Family funeral home for sending dad -Ross Hammond off in the fashion he deserved. From my mom and my siblings our sincerest gratitude.

Nancy Nickel

Personnel, facilities, advise & support all exceeded our expectations - it helped to communicate details by email. In particular, both Nathan and Terri-Ann did an excellent job! I was surpised at the after service documentation - all details well organized.

Larry Bell

Nathan and staff were kind and helpful throughout the process. They really went above and beyond to make the experience as positive as possible.

Amy Stephen

Everything was great - many great comments made about the story alone on Pearl's life and we sent copies to people who could not attend - a very nice addition.

Family of Pearl Stephen

Our experience was amazing under the circumstances. Your services were perfect. You went above and beyond our expectations. You are very caring, compassionate and professional in your approach. You create a very therapeutic environment.

Elmer Ward

"Dear Nathan, your many caring and creative touches from the notice to the burial in the days following Catharine's (McKeeman) passing meant so much to all of us. You honoured her life in so many meaningful ways. Your compassion and celebration of her life will always be remembered by all those Catharine held dear."

Ian Campbell, Catharine's Brother

“Nathan, you did an absolutely amazing job. People give us compliments about everything from the life story to the beautiful, elaborate displays at the visitation. I tell everyone it was you. All the surprises - the cookies, the recipe cards, the signing picture - all amazing!”

Kim and Alan Grant

“Staff were professional and friendly.”

“Exceptional service.”

Lawrence and Heather Lamarche

“Nathan, you present yourself very well. Facilities were all that could be expected.”

“I would recommend your funeral home to everyone. Nathan’s ability to put you at ease, with a caring attitude is super and very respectful!”

Carol Golem

“We were all very impressed.”

Roberta Godwin

“Dear Nathan - You did a good job. Thank-you for all your help and all the information you obtained for me."

Gloria Albright

“Your sense of humour was a plus! You and your staff clearly have a calling for the work that you do. We all felt that we were in good hands throughout the entire process…. Nathan, thank you for everything. You made things easy for us, as we felt like we were working on Dad’s arrangements with family. We gave Dad a great send off and thank you and your staff for being a part of it.”

Deborah Hart

“Letters cancelling Gov’t services was a great help and was very much appreciated.”

William & Loraine Patterson

“You did everything really well. All needs were met and then some.… We received positive comments on the stationary. Great keep sakes. The book and slideshow were beautiful.”

Elaine King

“We had no concerns- worries, nothing, but confidence in the staff – we knew exactly how everything would happen and when - it was so nice not to have to concern ourselves with anything.”

Rebecca Becker

"I don't think there is anything more you or your staff could do."

Bernice Frook

"No improvement needed. We were pleased with everything."

Susan Taylor

“I would not have changed anything. Thanks very much – Nathan and staff.”

“New renovations are very inviting and warm. All your new cards and books are very heart warming and keepsakes.”

Valerie Long

"Staff were outstanding. Overall, it was great. Everything was perfect."

Susan Laver

“Staff is exceptional!... All needs were met.”

“Service was beyond expectations… Already recommended to various people.”

Steve Thomson

“Could not have been more useful – very satisfied! I would highly recommend Rhody Family. Thank you ever so much for your professionalism and expertise.”

Dave Hillier

“Honestly, you and your staff made this time in my life the best it could be and were extremely helpful, respectful, professional and accommodating to my needs and my family’s needs, especially providing me with a space to feed [my child] if needed. Thank you for everything”

Olivia Strucke

“Everything was perfect; it’s always nice to have lots of options.”

Kevin Dailey

“Thank you for all your empathy, compassion and professionalism. Our family… is very grateful that we chose Rhody Family Funeral Home to look after our loved one.”

Siobhan Bell

“Your services were excellent. Thank you again.”

Debbie Eidt

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