Frederick George Winters Squadron Leader, Royal Canadian Air Force 1935-1964; General Manager, Alberta Aviation Council 1964-1977. Late of Chilliwack, passed away December 21, 2002 at age 86. He was born April 30, 1916 in Winnipeg, Man.
Fred had a military career in telecommunications and progressed from an aircraft radio operator (during the Second World War he defended Canada on numerous flights over the Atlantic Ocean looking and listening for enemy ships and submarines) to Squadron Leader and head of telecommunications at Lincoln Park Air Force Base Calgary.
During his distinguished Air Force career Fred and his wife June, moved 28 times back and forth across Canada and Europe. Frequent career moves taught his children to make the whole world their home, to enjoy meeting new people, to make friends easily, to have adventures, and to have the self-confidence to try almost anything.
He had a passion for flight but he was not a pilot in the Air Force so at age 48 he bought a plane and learned how to fly it. His new skill as a pilot led him to his second career and probably his most important, as General Manager of the Alberta Aviation Council. He was the first person to fly all over Alberta and create a map of every private and commercial airport in the province. During this time he and June also became foster parents to over 33 babies awaiting adoption.
When he retired to Chilliwack that was just the start of his really fun times. He was able to work on his dream of 20 years whereby he could keep his plane in his garage and go flying as easily as going in the car to the corner store. He designed and had built a three bedroom rancher with an attached hanger off the master bedroom at the Chilliwack Airport. He enjoyed waking up and having a bowl of cereal and then hopping into his plane and flying to some breakfast fly-in in the Fraser Valley. He even made one trip to Disneyland with his wife and youngest son John, with his plane landing at small airports along the way.
His favourite hobby was swimming and the colder the water the better! He constantly cajoled his family to go with him – with little success. He finally did find a willing partner in his granddaughter Wendy, and at one point in the late 90s he and Wendy had gone swimming for 18 consecutive months. He was famous for taking his thermometer into the lake and recording the temperature and then floating peacefully on his back. A typical polar bear with his pure white hair and white stomach! He regularly attended the Chilliwack New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim at Cultus Lake through the 90s as well. He never lost his interest for swimming and his last swim was testing out Chilliwack’s new swimming facilities only a week before his death.
He was more than ‘just a father’, Fred was a man to love, respect and to learn from. He instilled family values into all his children and made sure you didn’t cross the line. Fred was proud of his family and appreciated the love and caring they provided, especially the last couple of years. In his latter years, Fred never lost his inner fire to keep abreast of current affairs and to live for the future. He was devoted to his wife June of 62 years, who passed away only 41 days before him on November 10, 2002.
At age 86 he died too soon! We were not ready to let him go. We will never forget him for he made us what we are today. Great memories linger on, teaching us to swim, to bike ride, to drive a car, to dance, being pulled behind the car on a toboggan, going flying building train sets, going on holidays, the wonderful Christmases, so many good times! Dad/Granddad you will be missed!
A gathering of family and friends was held in the Tearoom of Henderson’s Funeral home on Friday, Dec. 27, 2002 at 1:30 p.m. Cremation, Valley Crematorium.
Fred is survived by his five children, Gail V. Johnson of Hurst, Texas, Lynn Winter of Calgary, Alta., Frank R. Winters of Sardis, Jim F. Winters of St. Albert, Alta., and John T. Winters of Sardis; and his sister Marge Flett of Kelowna. Fred’s large loving family included 19 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren.