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Garry Nelson

January 30, 1943 ~ April 22, 2020

Garry Nelson

“It is with great sadness that we announce that, Garry Nelson, has passed away at age 77. He died peacefully with his loved ones by his side on April 22, 2020 at 5:53 a.m.
Garry was born on January 30, 1943 in Lethbridge, Alberta to Violet and Matthew Nelson. In 1946, he moved to Whitehorse, Yukon where he held a variety of jobs until he retired at age 76, including corrections officer, bowling pin stacker, security guard, pool hall manager and owner of Nelson’s Hardware.

Garry was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Leroy and Rayner. Garry Nelson is survived by his wife, Cristina; daughters, Vida (Trevor) and Vina; and brother, Lawrence.

Garry’s daughters idolized him for many reasons, but his calmness, contentness, selflessness, and trust in the goodness of all living things stand out as attributes that should be celebrated.

Garry believed that everyone and everything had value. He had a tendency to hoard old merchandise from Nelson’s Hardware – but that is because he was holding onto memories from the past. Aside from material objects, Garry treated all animals and people with the utmost respect. He never hesitated to give a stranger on main street a crisp bill or let anyone who asked, borrow anything from his tool collection. He ran his business off good will mentality, often accepting IOUs from customers. Garry never assumed anybody was bad or had bad intentions. Instead, he saw the good in everyone. This applied to animals and insects too. He built shelters for stray cats, spent a summer nursing his pet bumble bee back to health, and always remembered to order a side of 80 cents worth of bacon from Tim Hortons for his dogs. In fact, he did a better job at feeding mice in the basement than he did eliminating them.

Garry lived a happy life. He was always content with whatever he had, and never complained about needing more. He loved going to the cabin he built with his dad, and didn’t see the need to go anywhere else for vacation. He loved his old Toyota Camry, and didn’t see the need to replace it until it caught on fire while he was driving it 22 years later. He loved his flip phone from 2006 and never bought a smartphone or learned to text. He played hockey in Whitehorse from when he was a young boy until his body was too worn out for old timers league. If he loved something, he stuck with it. He had 50 pairs of his uniform white v-neck t-shirts and jeans. If he could survive off only eating fudgesicles and drinking rootbeer or iced capps for his whole life – he surely would.

Garry’s daughters never saw him stressed, mad or bored. He was calm, collected and believed in the power of meditation. It was difficult to disappoint him and he never refused a request for help or complained about it. Whether it be 6 a.m. figure skating practice, a 2 a.m. call for a ride home from the bar, or a trip to deliver lunch to his family’s work – he never hesitated and always showed up. He was the best husband and father who always put his family first.

When faced with a stage 4 colorectal cancer diagnosis a few months ago, he made jokes until the end that he was “dying to know what was on the other side” and if he coughed he’d say “coffin? I said I want to be cremated”. In his last few weeks, he said that he felt like a solider attacking a machine gun nest – but he wasn’t afraid. He approached death with humor and courage. There is so much more to say about Garry and the way he lived his life – but that would take forever. If you want to live life like Garry did: try to be calm, brave and blissfully content. Never treat anyone or anything as simply disposable – but instead recognize the value in everything.
At his request, in light of Covid, no service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Humane Society of Yukon or the Yukoners’ Cancer Care Fund in his honor.
Comments (3)
  • 14 May 2020

    You have written a beautiful obituary on Garry. I knew him a little bit from the Nelson Hardware days and also because I knew his brothers Rayner and Lawrence. Your words illustrate a side of Garry that many might not know and it was enriching for the spirit to read about him. Sincere condolences to his family and friends.

  • 5 June 2020

    What a beautiful obituary for a man that had a part in so many Yukoners’ lives.
    I am sorry for your profound loss.

  • 15 October 2020

    I’m very saddened to have read about Garry’s passing..He always made me laugh at work and when ever I would run into him ..The obituary really sums up Garry..To his family my sincere condolences on your loss.RIP Garry

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