Friday, July 19th, 2019

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DONNELLY: John Russell (Jack) passed away on June 25, 2019, at Hillcrest Place Personal Care Home in Brandon, MB, at the age of 95, surrounded and cherished by close family. Jack was born in Brandon to Etta and Jack Donnelly Sr. on April 20, 1924. He grew up with two older sisters, Eleanor and Doreen, to whom he remained close until their passing. Jack met the love of his life, Marjorie McMullan, when his sister Eleanor became engaged to Marj’s brother Bob, thus firming up the close knit Donnelly/McMullan family connection. In 1943, aged 19, Jack enlisted in the Royal Canadian Volunteer Naval Reserve at HMCS Chippawa, Winnipeg, continued on to HMCS Cornwallis, Halifax where he served on HMCS Persian (a converted mine sweeper), as one of 5 escorts to protect a convoy of 40 merchant ships. From there he served on HMCS Monnow based out of Bristol, England, for numerous convoy crossings. He came home briefly on compassionate leave due to his mother’s illness and death before rejoining HMCS Arnprior, which took him to convoy crossings based out of Ireland. At war’s end and awaiting discharge, he served as second in command on HMCS Beaverton. During his time away, he and Marj kept in touch. They married on January 31, 1948, and enjoyed life together for 71 years. Upon his naval discharge, Jack was employed with the Power Commission (later Manitoba Hydro) where he worked as a linesman. He loved the job of bringing electricity into rural Manitoba, delighting farm folk with an easier way of life. Many farmers’ wives had a pie or cake waiting for the crew to thank them. In 1950 he left Hydro to start up Donnelly Locksmith. Many suppers, holidays and weekends were interrupted with Jack being called out to help people stranded outside of their home or car. Many outings were delayed and suppers kept warm until his return. After 34 years in the locksmith business he sold it and devoted himself to his many hobbies and cottage life. Jack always loved the outdoors, a passion he instilled in his children and grandchildren. As a child he loved the family cottage on the shore of Clear Lake. It was built of wood from the shipping crates cars came in to Donnelly Brothers Auto, a Brandon landmark owned by his father and uncle. Later, Jack and Marj spent every summer at their cabin in the old campground before building a cottage on Lake Manitoba. In all these places, Jack loved sketching, sailing, tinkering, building or fixing things and swimming. In fact, at the age of 74 he participated in the swim portion of the Clear Lake Triathalon with his son and grandson. Having been in the navy, he loved all kinds of boats. He converted his father’s little wooden rowboat into a sailboat. His kids would be sent down to the shore to wave him in for supper. (They usually just ate without him.) Later he purchased a larger sailboat that his kids and grandkids enjoyed with him on Lake Manitoba. Model boat and airplane building was a lifelong love of his. He designed and built many to scale complete with working parts. His family still treasures these. Jack gave back to the community by volunteering at Fairview Personal Care Home with the men’s group in wood building, at Knox United Church where he mentored youth and served on committees and with the Boy Scouts of Canada. Even recently, middle-aged men approached him with a “Hello Scouter Jack”, which pleased him immensely. Jack spent the last 2 years at the Assiniboine Centre and Hillcrest Place Personal Care Home, with Marj visiting him every single afternoon thanks to family and friends acting as her personal chauffeurs. Jack and Marj were inseparable for 71 years. Their love and respectful relationship is a shining example to all who know and love them. Jack was a modest and self-effacing gentleman who would be embarrassed by the many details of this article, but it sheds light on the caring, compassionate man he was. His love, wonderful sense of humour, dedication, decency and love of life will be missed. He will live on forever in the people whose lives he has touched. Those mourning the passing of this gentle soul, and celebrating his life include his wife Marjorie, sons Clark (Mary), Patrick (Patti), Chris (Danette), daughter Joy (Chuck), grandchildren Kelly, Kim, John Brett, Tara, Blake, Joel, Gareth, Adam, Emma, Abbie, Avah, Hayden, 4 step grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. The family would like to express their deepest gratitude to the excellent staff at Hillcrest for their care, concern and professionalism. Interment took place July 3rd. A Celebration of Life will be held on Wednesday, July 31 from 2:00-4:00 at Seniors for Seniors Park Avenue Activity Center, 311 Park Avenue East, Brandon. Donations in memory of Jack may be made to Westman Dream for Kids.
Messages of condolence may be placed at Memories Funeral Chapel
2019-07-06 issue of the Brandon Sun