The late Langley resident Eric Bysouth was known for his volunteerism, which extended back to his earliest days, says his family.
"When you look back, he has been doing this ever since he was a kid, as far as I can see," said his son Randy Bysouth.
This weekend, a public memorial for the senior Bysouth will be held at Sharon United Church, at Five Corners in Murrayville. It will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m.
Eric Bysouth was born in Hillmond, Saskatchewan, 88 years ago, one of thousands of farm kids growing up in rural western Canada.
Like many of his peers, he left school early to work on the farm, and at age 16 he was running it, after his father rejoined the military during the Second World War.
In 1943, Randy said, his grandfather returned from serving in coastal defence, and Eric, now old enough to enlist, joined up. He picked the Royal Canadian Air Force.
"He wanted to be a pilot," Randy said. But his eyesight wasn't good enough, and Eric found himself in the ground crew.
Training taught him how to build power generation equipment, and Eric spent the war in B.C. and northern Canada, installing generator systems for radar stations. While he never went overseas, he saw his share of travel, and had some alarming moments getting onto remote islands in the Haida Gwaii chain.
The service changed his father, Randy said.
"He never thought he'd leave the farm, and joining the Air Force totally changed his life," Randy said.
He also met his wife, Helen Hobbs, when he was on leave from the military and visiting his family's new home in Alberta.
Bysouth, now with a new bride, briefly left the service in 1946, but signed up again in '47, working in power engineering and training other enlisted men and officers across the country.
The family lived everywhere from Labrador to Whitehorse to Fort Nelson.
In Goose Bay, in 1957, the Bysouth kids were envied because their family had the only car in the entire community.
Eric built it from mechanical scraps from the US Air Force base, along with hand-formed wooden plywood panels. It was known as the Goose Car.
It was during his time in the military that the Bysouths' volunteering ways became well known, Randy said.
Eric would help build small schools along the Alaska Highway in the 1940s, or throw himself into other local projects often using his engineering know-how.
"He would enlist the help of the military to contribute, he would drive it forward," Randy said.
Helen was very community minded, and Eric was committed, said Randy.
Eric also had a lifelong love of learning. He completed his high school education just a few years ahead of his eldest son, while still working full time.
The Bysouths settled in Langley in the 1970s, after he left the service. They built a home, and Eric became a key part of KD Engineering and of numerous local volunteer groups.
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