Vernon Thomas was born on Monday, February 23, 1953 in Owen Sound to Dan and Catherine “Electa” May (Hill) McGilveary. Vern was the youngest child of ten; Herb, Blanche, Nelson, Murray, Reta, Dean, Lyle, Lawrence, Sharon and Vern. He also had two older half-siblings, Jean and Mazie, as his father's first wife died at a young age. The McGilveary family farmed in Elderslie Township on the 20th Sideroad, where Vern attended Elderslie Central School before moving onto Chesley District High School.
Vern did not finish high school and soon entered the workforce at Pittsburgh Glass. Over the coming years, he spent time at Douglas Point, Heirloom and even tried his hand at building houses. He then went to work at Gaylea, first in Teeswater and then Guelph. It was during his time in Teeswater that Vern officially became a 3rd Class Stationary Engineer.
In 1974, Vern was introduced to Lorraine Gail Hyslop. He had been visiting friends that lived below Lorraine's apartment and the two hit it off immediately, becoming friends. In time their relationship blossomed and they were married on August 16, 1975 at St. John's United Church in Chesley. A year later Vern and Lorraine adopted Lorraine’s sons Kenneth (1967) and Thomas (1969), before completing their family in 1978 with the addition of Joseph. In 1989, the McGilvearys purchased a 100-acre farm just outside Scone where they raised a variety of animals. Vern loved the farm life and spent countless hours caring for the livestock and working around the farm. He also loved his four-legged companions, which included Missy, Chimo, and Laddie through the years. Don't forget his love of cats as well, with Bijoux and Callie sharing their lives with Lorraine and him for a number of years.
In 2000, Vern took the opportunity to work at Golden Valley Farms in Arthur. He was Chief Operating Engineer, 3rd Class with Golden Valley Farms Inc., Arthur for the last 19 years. Over his 49 year career he had many years of experience on boilers ranging from low pressure to high pressure, involving sawdust, gas and oil, as well as in air compression and cooling systems, ammonia refrigeration, wet and dry systems and performing industrial maintenance work.
Lorraine and Vern moved to Durham in 2002, to be closer to work as he was on call. Vern loved his work and could have easily been referred to as a workaholic. He also loved to collect tools to help him with this work. When not busy with work Vern loved to cut the grass, often relaxing with a beer while mowing his 7 1/2 acres of lawn in Durham. He definitely had a western spirit about him as he loved anything cowboy. He loved western movies and anything written by Louis L'amour. In fact, he collected these novels and had an expansive collection, many of which he donated to the local library. When he had an opportunity to watch some TV he always enjoyed taking in a hockey game or shows like Highway Thru Hell, and North Woods Law. Like any cowboy, Vern always looked good in black. When out for something to eat, he always had a soft spot for KFC. He and Lorraine always looked forward to their yearly trips to Midland, whereby they would spend their days walking around the Bay and enjoying boat rides with evenings spent at the Highland Inn.
Vern was a hard-working, honest man who was very trustworthy. He was a loving family man, with a large network of friends. However, he probably is best known for his dedication to his work as an Engineer. He loved his chosen career and will be sadly missed by his friends and former colleagues.
In January of 2019, Vern decided to retire to enjoy the finer things in life. Sadly, that was not in his cards, as he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in February and spent his remaining days fighting this horrible disease. He passed away, in the presence of his loving family, at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Durham on Saturday, October 5, 2019 at the age of 66.
He is survived by his best friend and loving wife of 44 years, Lorraine (Hyslop). Dear father of Kenneth (Amanda), Thomas (Sherry), all of Hanover and Joseph of Arthur. Vern will be sadly missed by his grandchildren, Kaitlynn (Samson) of Listowel and Megan (Malcolm) of Hanover. Loving step-grandfather of Alicia Winter (Bill McBride) of Clifford and step great-grandfather and guardian angel to Madison McBride. Vern will be lovingly remembered by his brothers, Herb (Elizabeth) of Chesley, Murray of Grand Island, NY, Lawrence (Arlene) of Tonawanda, NY and sisters Blanche Beckett, Reta Steward, both of Chesley, Sharon (Arthur) Becker of Varney. He will be sadly missed by sister-in-law Marion (Don) McAllister of Paisley. Vern will be remembered with fondness by many nieces, nephews and their families and Callie, his feline friend, as well as the entire Hyslop family. Vern was predeceased by siblings Dean, Lyle, Nelson, Jean and Mazie as well as Alex in infancy (1932).
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Thursday from 2 – 4 and 7 – 9 p.m. where a funeral service celebrating Vern’s life will be held on Friday, October 11, 2019 at 1 p.m. Interment in Hillcrest Cemetery, Tara.
Memorial donations to the Canadian Cancer Society or Durham Hospital Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend