The Royal Canadian Legion Branch #6 in Redcliff celebrated George Hope on Saturday for his contributions to the organization.
“(He’s) been a member for 75 years. That is almost unheard of, so we decided to throw an appreciation supper for him,” said Nicole Pilon, acting vice president of the Redcliff Legion. “We had some dignitaries from CFB Suffield, the new commanding RSM and his wife were there. The head table consisted of 14 people and that was just Hope’s immediate family; they’re such a great addition to the Legion, always willing to help out. George and his wife are always there.”
Hope, who has lived in Redcliff and area for most of his life, turned 96 two days before the celebration.
“He is our last WWII veteran,” Pilon said. “He used to go to different schools and do presentations for Remembrance Day. He is always there to lend a helping hand to us.”
Hope joined the Legion, which his father was involved with, on July 6, 1946, just after he was discharged. He was with the Canadian Scottish regiment and served in Europe, mainly in Holland, in the infantry,
“I didn’t serve the entire war, I was a little too young,” Hope said. “I was 17 when I joined, but I did manage to get into the fight. That’s what I looked forward to, but once I was in there I wished I wasn’t. There was no glory about it.”
He said the hunger he witnessed during the war left an impression.
“You looked at the children and they had nothing to eat,” said Hope. “We had rations, we had chocolate, and of course we would always give some of it to the children because to me they were the ones that were suffering for something that they had no clue about.”
Hope returned home to Redcliff and began working for the town, but soon decided to take a course and became a bricklayer. Years later he and his wife bought land and had a cattle ranch.
George met Ruth at a hall in Redcliff. He said he “saw this young lady dancing on the floor with another feller and my little heart just jumped out right away.”
They were married in 1957. They have four children, nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, many of whom were in attendance at the dinner.
“I got on the executive (of the Legion). I thought, you know, we have to work for the town, that’s our job,” said Hope. “I was interested in the activities and what it meant to the town.”
Hope became Legion president at 31.
“I was the youngest president, and served the longest,” said Hope. “I went back in 2001 and served another term as the oldest president of the branch. I hold the record for youngest, longest and oldest, and then I was recognized for 75 years as a member of the Redcliff branch. I believed in it and I believed in helping the town of Redcliff. I just felt that, I’m here, I should be doing things like this and the response was good, lots of help and the town appreciated it.”
“Everybody knows George,” said Pierre D’Amour, who worked as a Legion manager under Hope. “If you had a problem, he would help you. You couldn’t find a better person.”
It is clear that Hope left an impression on so many around him. His son Brent says he is his greatest inspiration.
“His word is his bond. If he says he’s going to do something, you can take it to the bank, even at 96.”
LAUREN THOMSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News