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Musings, May 11th 2020: Remembering with Gratitude

Yesterday, Sunday morning, I announced the death of two members of our community: Harold Miller and Gordon Stewart.  As promised, (though you couldn’t hear me as a result of issues with the sound) below are the words and some pictures shared with me by Gordon’s son, Dr. Graeme Stewart.  Following Graeme’s memories of his dad two video clips of Harold sharing music at Upper Sackville United Church.

Might you, being unable to gather with the families to pay your respects and share their loss, take a moment and give thanks for these lives well lived and reach out in other ways to share their loss.  You may contact Graeme at  He will share your messages with his siblings.  Condolences for the family of Harold Miller can be left here.

In gratitude for two lives well lived.


From Graeme Steward:  A Word or Two About Dad

My Dad died yesterday (May 9th 2020), at 99 years of age. My Dad, and of course Dad to Moira, Wendy and Keir too, and loving husband to Evelyn, and earlier in his long life, husband to Florence before her way-too-early death from cancer.

We are already keenly missing him and have not really had the time or opportunity of

reflection to put into words what he meant to us; probably that is impossible anyway. Foremost, he was a patient, involved and loving parent and husband.

He was also a King Scout in his day as well as a radio announcer and summer camp leader. He could pitch a tent with the best of them and never tired when swimming the breast stroke. He was formidable in argument and earnest in his concerns about climate change and pollution. His Geology specimens, both imported and gleaned while combing the shores of the Minas Basin after his retirement, could fill a museum, and indeed, later in his life, his apartment, complete with ultraviolet floodlit specimen display cases and row-on-row of rocks and fossils began to LOOK like a museum!

He was always a scholar. At McGill he obtained a Master’s Degree majoring in History. At Queens he studied Divinity, before accepting calls to a number of congregations in Eastern Ontario and the Quebec side of the Ottawa valley.

In 1971 all of our lives changed forever when Dad accepted a call to be Minister at Sackville United. I still recall the shock on seeing houses that were made of wood, after moving from Toronto. The move was memorable; my Grandfather, Dad’s Dad, spent most of the train trip tending to our aging cat Webster in the baggage car of the Ocean Limited. My brother arrived a day or two later in his 1952 Willys Jeep, Korean War vintage, which he drove continuously from TO in 24 hours, never obtaining a top speed of over forty miles an hour, even downhill, and never stopping the engine while gassing up for fear the friggin’ thing would never start again.

We became “Maritimers” (although the question is arguable, can anyone EVER, REALLY

“BECOME” a Maritimer?

Dad spent ten years as Minister at Sackville United, and reflected on them as a fulfi time. Some of you may recall his Children’s Stories – they were usually shorter and more to the point than his sermons – and I never shook the feeling that the adults in the congregation liked them even more than the kids.

Geology and science were his passions and he often incorporated lessons from these realms into his services, generally with artifacts, fossils or models.

At home he was a teacher too, our dining room wall was always buttressed by the complete Encyclopedia Brittanica and by the Funk and Wagnalls. (For the younger people in the crowd – those are things called “books”).

He may be remembered best in the greater Sackville community, for taking Bobby Scott and “Mr Brand” into our home when the old and dilapidated Sackville Hotel was finally demolished. They and several others graced our household for years, well before I ever heard the term “Homeless”.

After officially retiring, and after Mom died, Dad immediately turned around and took on years of service to several congregations in need in Nova Scotia, mostly around Dartmouth where I was living at the time. It begs the question: is the term “Retired United Church Minister” actually an oxymoron?

The last years of dad’s life were spent travelling with Evelyn, compiling scrapbooks and albums, receiving visits from family, working on his specimens, and…

Reading, reading, reading, READING. Dad was always well-read. In fact, as a doctor and purported scientist, it was always a trifle galling to me to realize that my 90+ year old Papa was MORE informed about Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Evolutionary Biology, Astronomy, Geology and in fact just about everything, than me!

In his declining years, Dad was slowed by poor eyesight and impaired hearing. And yes, his intellect suffered too. But to the end he was always interested in the news, world events and hearing about his family. He remained keen on hearing a play on words or a joke, latterly issuing a slow-paced and somewhat guttural “Ha-Ha-Ha” at a good joke, sometimes five or ten seconds after the joke was complete.

Dad lived a long and worthy life. At age 99, and despite never playing a shift of hockey, he ended up sharing at least a number with Wayne Gretzky.

Dad. You’ve only been gone for a day, but we miss you so..

And here is a video of Harold Miller at Upper Sackville for your listening pleasure.

Looking Ahead

Today I am home this morning and then at the Church for four Zoom meetings over the course of the afternoon and evening.

Tuesday will see me in Moncton conducting visits at the hospitals in the morning followed by two Zoom meetings in the afternoon and working on the service for Sunday in the evening.

And on Wednesday I’ll be Zooming again for much of the day: in the morning with United Church colleagues in the Moncton area and in the afternoon doing pastoral visiting via telephone and Zoom.

On Thursday morning Jennie, Carolyn and Edward and I will be recording the service for Sunday May 17th.  We are recording it on Thursday and will post it on various platforms on Sunday morning.  This will allow us to have the Sunday morning off – the first in a long while.

Friday and Saturday will be days off – as will Sunday and Monday.  Enjoy the long weekend!  I know I will!!

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