OMM, CD (Retired)
Canadian Military Engineers
May 26, 1944 – Sept. 15, 2009
September 15, 2009 marked the loss of a great man, Roger Kenwood St. John. His passing was sudden and untimely.
Born May 26th, 1944 in Vancouver, Roger was a devoted husband, father, grandpa (Poppy), friend and community member as well as a distinguished member of the military.
After graduating from UBC with a Bachelor of Science, Forestry, he began his military career in 1969 with his first posting to Montreal. He went on to serve his country with true Engineering spirit during tours across Canada and Europe as well as several UN Peace Keeping missions in Cyprus, Pakistan, and Bosnia. His final posting in 1994 was as Base Commander of CFB Chilliwack, where he oversaw the base until its closure in 1998.
He concerned himself with the well-being of all those leaving the base and went above and beyond to ensure that each and every one was taken care of. He was a soldier’s soldier and had a career filled with integrity and distinction including receiving the Order of Military Merit. He was also a citizen’s soldier as shown by his Honorary ‘Citizen of the Year’ award he received from the City of Calgary in 1987, in recognition of the instrumental role he played in creating the Calgary Centennial Arena and the Calgary Military Museum. The award stated that Roger “emerged as a model of good citizenship, forging a relationship between the citizens of Calgary and the members of CFB Calgary” and that “his community spirit would go with him wherever his career took him.”
This proved to be true and continued after his retirement when Roger enthusiastically involved himself in the community of Chilliwack, giving his time, energy and passion to many great organizations including; Rotary, Community Services, Chilliwack Hospice Society, BC Children’s Hospital and Big Brothers. Again his enormous efforts were recognized, this time being named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International.
Most recently Roger was bestowed with the great honor of an appointment as Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Military Engineers. He was passionate about the Engineers and took his duties very seriously. He thoroughly enjoyed reconnecting with a new generation of Engineers and spoke often of his pride in their accomplishments.
As involved with the community and military services as he was, Roger always made time for those he loved most, his family and friends. He enjoyed fishing, spending time at his beloved cabin, traveling and creating adventures. He was enthusiastically looking forward to doing all these things with his grandsons and seeing the men they would grow into.
In hindsight, we now know that we are all fortunate Roger was an avid story teller. At times humorously long-winded, those who were lucky to hear him telling tales can now cherish them and keep his memory alive with their retelling.
He leaves behind many, many friends and colleagues who will miss him dearly. A painful empty space is left in the hearts of his family; his wife Joy, daughters Michelle and Danielle, sons-in-law Brian and Trevor, his grandsons, Benjamin, Jacob, Colburn and Evan and his niece Ann-Marie and her husband Paul.
Our only consolation comes from knowing, as a dear friend pointed out, “he was a happy and fulfilled man who was loved by all who knew him. He bypassed no opportunities and always followed his heart.”
A memorial service for Roger will be held Monday, September 28th at 1:30pm at the First Avenue Christian Assembly, 46510 1st Avenue, Chilliwack, BC. An informal celebration will follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wheelchair Foundation Canada (www.wheelchairfoundation.org) or the Military Families Fund (www.militaryfamiliesfund.ca).
Condolences can be sent to the family via Lt Lu Li – Lu.Li@forces.gc.ca.