Longtime Langley Advance contributor passes

Mike Harvey, an ardent animal advocate, Second World War veteran, and prolific contributor to the Langley Advance’s Letters to the Editor page, passed away on Saturday morning, May 9.

The Langley resident turned 89 on April 26.

Harvey was born in 1926 in London, delivered by Sir Henry Simpson, the same physician who delivered Queen Elizabeth, and only four days after the Queen’s birth.

As a young boy Harvey spent Christmas alone at his British boarding school.

He enlisted in the army at the age of 16.

At 17, Harvey was asked this question on his first parachute jump as a paratrooper during the Second World War: “What’s your name, jumper?”

His reply was: “I’m so bloody afraid, I’ve forgotten.”

His two offenses while in the army included impersonating Brigadier Harvey to be chauffeured in the back seat as the Brigadier in his official car, and breaking into the cookhouse to eat cheese.

Harvey’s jobs included Navy private on the stone frigate HMCS; a firefighter carrying 80 pounds of water on his back for eight hours a day; a hypnotherapist; award-winning ad campaign manager for newspapers; and a Lieutenant Paratrooper, Patricia Pats, with the Royal Canadian Army.

For 12 years, Harvey successfully coached the Langley Spitfires, a girls soccer team that won the provincial championships each year under his stewardship.

Harvey was sorry to have at one time enjoyed shooting upland game birds with his 12-gauge shot gun. He came to view hunting as barbaric, avoiding any meat in his diet for the past 45 years.

A dedicated animal advocate, Harvey recently raised $10,000 for his local animal shelter.

On Harvey’s lunch breaks as an ad man, he’d run the 10 km Stanley Park seawall daily. His other sports of choice were tennis, wrestling, and swimming, slowing down to table tennis in later years.

He excelled at all of them, winning many awards.

Until his mid-80’s, Harvey would keep fit by doing 100 pushups daily.

He was also well-versed in the art of letter writing, about a multitude of subjects and issues.

In his final letter to the Advance, published on April 15, Harvey praised the work of the staff at Langley Memorial Hospital.

“After 11 days in Langley Memorial Hospital, I have nothing but praise for the service I received,” he wrote. “From the staff doctor to the efficient and friendly nurses, and even the women who did the cleaning, all were the height of professionalism. We should all be proud such an outstanding facility graces our community.”

On Jan. 15, his letter published in the Advance stated that dogs are a cure for despondency or loneliness: “You need not own a dog, as you can make many pals just by having a dog biscuit in your pocket. Mind you, owning a dog is getting love, companionship, and affection for the life of that pooch. You’ll never have a more devoted and loyal pal in your life; nor will there be any greater sorrow if that dog leaves you in death. And somehow or other, dogs seem to attract the friendliest people with whom you may interact.”

And just before Remembrance Day in 2013, Harvey reflected on the Second World War and the toll that it took.

“There were many other occasions when death was thrust into my mind: a paratrooper stuck on a tree and blasted by a machine gun; horribly wounded men accompanying me on a hospital train bound for a military hospital in Belgium…

I learned that a boyhood companion had been lost in his bomber over Germany. A poor family that I knew lost any zest they had for living. Their one source of love and pride had been taken, and so every day for them was a day of remembrance.

“In the morning and at the setting of the sun, we will remember them.”

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