Fitchett, Gordon Frank
(November 29th, 2023)
March 23, 1949 – November 29, 2023
It is with pronounced sorrow that we share the sudden and unexpected death of Gordon Frank Fitchett while driving home on November 29, 2023. Gord was born on March 23, 1949, to Cyril and Edna Fitchett, at the old Nelson Hospital. Whether he did or not, Gord always said he remembered the day he was born, on a bright sunny day. He spent his childhood making mischief in Procter, attending Procter School for his formative years. He was a good athlete and the friends he made in his early years were still friends today. He loved horses and trained them with Mr. Young. He once took his horse, Mazeka, to his grandmother’s house in Harrop. He brought the horse up the wide steps on the front porch to show Grace and couldn’t get Mazeka to turn around. Grace got exasperated and said, “Oh Gordon, for heaven’s sake, just bring the horse into the kitchen and turn it around.” And that is what he did. Another time he tied his dad’s car to a post in the carport and his dad drove away, with the post attached. Gord always loved the outdoors, and when he was younger, he enjoyed hiking into local lakes and also the higher elevations, like Mt. Loki. At that time there wasn’t much of a trail; it was more like bushwhacking your way through the wilderness.
Gord graduated from LVR in 1967 and spent this first summer working for Nicki Dosenberger at the pole yard in Procter during the day and on tugs for the night shift. That fall, he entered Selkirk College to complete his three-year diploma in Forestry Technology. In 1970, Gord started with Kootenay Forest Products, first as a Forest Technologist, then as Logging Manager and finally as Woodlands Manager until KFP closed in 1985.
Always resilient in the face of change, Gord formed his own companies; first with Mill Lake Contracting and then JSA Holdings. With his Caterpillar D8, Mill Lake Contracting developed the land for the current Porcupine Wood Products site. This mill started out as Hidden Creek Timber, where Gord was a partner. Following this business venture, Gord moved on to road building and logging with “Bill”, his cherished D7 Bulldozer, which has now retired to Bear Lake for snow removal. “Bill” the Dozer was named after his mentor, Bill Seafoot of Kaslo, from whom he purchased it. This led to larger opportunities and major contracts with Meadow Creek Cedar and Westwood Fibre in Salmo. As JSA Holdings became prosperous, Gord pivoted into real estate development with additional companies, including Summit Land and Timber. The success with this company up the Fish River and his strong relationship with Bell Pole, allowed him to acquire his land at Bear Lake as well as many other properties. He leaves Bear Lake behind as his legacy for his children and grandchildren to create their own memories. When Gord was not at the lake, he enjoyed running his sawmill, puttering around his barn, and taking on continuous small projects with his mini excavator. It could be said that Gord never officially retired.
Gord’s adventurous spirit and love of quiet wilderness continuously carried him into the forests, mountains, and lakes. He lived his life to the fullest. He was charismatic, hardworking, and intelligent, a generous husband, father, Papa, friend and a legend in the forest industry. He loved local history and held a wealth of information about the area. He spent countless hours roaming the mountains in his side-by-side and at his cabin on Bear Lake. His favourite place to ride was up London Ridge, always in awe of the spectacular beauty of this area. As a member of the Kaslo to Sandon Rails to Trails Society, Gord did a tremendous amount of work building bridges and maintaining trails. He was always one to share his experiences when asked and offer a helping hand if there was a need. He had a “Let’s get it done! “attitude and was an entrepreneur at heart. We will never know how many things Gord did for so many different people. Gord was always the life of any party, big or small, and his laughter resonated throughout. He loved to laugh!
Gord loved his family. He was central to all of them, whether it was when help was needed or advice sought, but mostly just because they all loved being around him. He leaves behind his wife Pat of 54 years, his beloved dog Abby, daughters Janice (and John) Knox, Shelley (and Derek) Sandquist and son Allan (and Erin) Fitchett. He loved and was loved unequivocally by his six grandchildren, Julie (and Jordan), Megan, Kailey, Kaitlyn, Ryan and Jessica. To his grandchildren, he was their Papa and their world. As well, left to grieve are his brother, David (and Jackie) Fitchett, his sister, Lesley Ann (and Rob) Jonas, his nephews Dale and Colin, nieces Danielle and Eileen and their families, his cousins and so, so, so many friends.
Gord was predeceased by his grandparents, Joseph and Grace Fitchett, Harrop, B.C., Robert and Ethel Swalwell of Darlington, England; parents, Edna and Captain Cy Fitchett of Procter/Balfour and his infant sister; his aunts and uncles, Bert and Florrie Fitchett, Walter and Ruth Fitchett, as well as his cousins, Leonard, Debbie and Ava.
Per Gord’s wishes, there will be no service. The family hopes you will remember Gord through your stories and laughter, the smell of freshly cut wood, the buzz of a chainsaw, and the stillness of the mountains. In lieu of flowers, please consider planting a tree in Gord’s memory.
Over and out, Dad. Our world has been shattered by your death, but we promise to move forward with the tenacity and strength you would have expected. We will carry your spirit and laughter with us for the rest of our lives.
“Grief is the last act of love we
have to give to those we loved.
Where there is deep grief,
there was great love.”
Boy, did we love this man!