Thomas Arnoldas Pietrus (Tom) Haughton
April 17, 1946 - May 1, 2020
Thomas Arnoldas Pietrus (Tom) Haughton, our kind, loving and generous Opa was a Renaissance man. He lived a full life, approaching every challenge that he met with grit. He was a veteran, a roofer, a newspaper delivery boy, a salesman, a school bus driver, a market gardener, a carpenter, a father, a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, a loyal friend, a dog lover, although his favourite role of all was being an Opa (that means grandfather in Dutch).
Opa was born in Arnhem, Holland on April 17th, 1946 to Cornelia Bernadina Albrecht and Gerritt Jan Driessen right after the Hunger Winter and during the Liberation of Holland. He came to Canada at four months old when his mother became a war bride of Thomas Agar Haughton, arriving on the Queen Mary ship at Pier 21 in Halifax on August of 1946. He grew up as a bit of an army brat, attending schools in Chilliwack BC, Sardis BC, Vancouver BC, Lahr Germany and lastly Barrie Ontario. Opa was a very fast runner and at one point he was scouted by a trainer who worked with Roger Bannister while he was attending High School in Vancouver. He was a very fast runner, even in worn out army boots, because he said he had to learn to run fast in order to survive. After some tumultuous teen years, he joined the military at the age of 17 in 1963. He completed his basic training in Borden, Ontario and his first posting was at CFB Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. Our Opa always said that the military raised him, and he was eternally grateful for the opportunities that his service provided him.
It was here in Portage la Prairie that he met his beautiful wife, Elizebeth (Liz) Slukynsky. They were both working on the Air Force base and he rescued her after he helped pull her out of the ditch. How is that for a love story? They were married December 1967 and together they raised four children; Maryanne (Kris) Thorkelson, Correna (Stephen) Peck, Susanne (Colin) Angus, and Thomas (Cheryl) Haughton. He was also posted to the Radar base in CFB Saskatoon, CFB Edmonton, CFB Trenton, CFB Winnipeg, CFB Downsview in Toronto, and CFB Shilo. Opa travelled the world as a Loadmaster on the Hercules C130 for many years and he was part of several interesting and challenging search and rescue as well as evacuation missions. One notable flight was helping with evacuations in Turkey after an earthquake and bringing Turkish candy home for his kids to try for the first time. He would bring surprises when he returned home from all over the world and his rec room is decorated with his many special souvenirs. He also spent six months in Alert, Northwest Territories on Ellesmere Island, as well as six months with the United Nations Peacekeepers in Damascus, Syria.
He finally settled down and retired in St. Andrews, Manitoba after serving for 25 years in the Canadian Air Force to begin his dream of running a market garden. If you’ve ever stopped in St. Andrews to pick or buy strawberries, corn, or raspberries you’ve probably met our Opa. He’s pretty memorable, if you're lucky maybe you were on the receiving end of a Dad joke or two. While running his market garden, he also worked as a car salesman for GM and as a school bus driver for Seven Oaks School Division. He had a love for dogs big or small and always made sure to send frequent donations to his local animal shelter. Opa also loved to buy and fix up many old cars, happy to make them roadworthy again. He loved to find a good fixer upper and see potential where others may not. Opa was a dreamer and he was always making plans for the next vacation, the next car or truck, the next tractor, or the next camping trip.
Opa travelled extensively all over the world during his 25 years of military service and he continued to travel after retirement with his wife Liz, and their kids growing families. He vacationed as a civilian in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Barbados (his favourite), as well as snow birding for many years in Harlingen, Texas and North Fort Myers, Florida with Liz and Lacey and Max (his beloved dogs). He would take his RV around Canada and camp with the grandchildren. He found time to visit Gimli every summer where some of his children have cottages. He never missed a chance to support his grandchildren. He was so proud of the grandkids’ accomplishments in hockey, lacrosse, baseball, volleyball, contemporary dance, piano, horseback riding, choir, band, musicals, gymnastics and Ukrainian dance. Halloween was always special at the Thorkelson's home where he would help out to give candy to trick or treaters for the past 10 years. The house became famous due to Opa’s insistence that trick or treaters give him a trick, whether that be a song, dance, or a joke. Always up for a good time, Opa loved playing cards and poker with his son and son in laws and anyone who’d play Rummoli with him. He especially loved playing cards while camping with his grandkids. If no one was around, Solitaire would do, but he was a people person who loved company.
Opa was a loyal subscriber to the Winnipeg Free Press for over 40 years, and also loved watching the evening news. He enjoyed learning about current events and shared this knowledge with his family, or anyone who would listen. Every morning he would take a walk to the mailbox to get his newspaper and then watch the evening news at 6 and 10 p.m. Our Opa was a life long learner and passionate man, and his love of reading and current events has been passed along to his kids and grandkids.
We would like to share a few ‘Opa ‘isms’ because he was incredibly funny and loved to make people laugh. When he turned 60 he said that ‘It's all gravy from here’, when faced with a challenge he would often say ‘We will make it work’, answering the phone ‘Jake’s Pool Hall, Sam here’. When asked how he was doing he’d respond ‘Why? Are you a doctor?’, before sitting down for a delicious meal with a loaded plate comment ‘I’m on a seafood diet’. When there was conflict he would say ‘You know I’m a lover not a fighter’. When you wanted to say sorry he would say ‘It’s ok I have broad shoulders’. ‘Give me the money honey’ is something that his grandchildren remember fondly, as well as his singing ‘Que Sera Sera” to them when they were children. There are many many more but they would fill up a whole phone book. Also Elvis always got Opa dancing!
His grandchildren, the lucky 13, wrote some kind words that we would like to include verbatim.
I love how funny you were, especially when you would try to steal my food. I will miss building Lego and laughing with you. I will always remember you, especially Remembrance Day. Your time with the Air Force makes you my hero. Love Thomas
Thank you for building Lego with us, it was fun to build the giant skyscraper with every piece of Lego at your home. You were always so silly with your jokes. I loved how you would always wave and had a big smile at us when we were performing. You were always your own person, doing things your own way. The way you would stand out is a great example for me to follow and to always be me. Love Keisha (Kaylee)
I loved building Lego with you Opa. It will bring back good memories of our visits at the farm. You were a really great guy. You served in the military, you helped people in need, loved everyone you met and were always willing to help with school projects and be at our events. I’m going to miss spending time with you and your suffocating rib crushing hugs. Love Sophie
My favourite thing about Opa was whenever people would argue he would tell lots of his funny jokes that everyone loved and it just lit up my heart. Another thing I also loved about him is how me and him really loved motor stuff like dirt bikes and quads and he was always the one who would give and give until everybody was happy. I can’t believe he is gone and I am heartbroken. Love Samuel
I will miss when Opa would ask how you were doing and when you would say“Good!” and he would say “Good for what?” I wanted to find a way to respond to that but I never did. I also loved how Opa was happy all the time. Love Alexander
I will miss him being a part of our lives and being so close with us. I'll miss him watching our sports, playing cards or just hanging out. He was the most selfless person ever and everyone will miss him. He did so much and wanted to give us grandkids the best life possible and he helped us so much with that. He always had something like a project and it was fun helping him with them. Love William
Opa had such a warm heart and he impacted everyone around him. I will miss him because he loved watching us play sports and he was so happy at family gatherings. He would always comment on my nose and say that it looked like Bob Hope’s nose. I don’t even know who Bob Hope is! He always made me smile when he said his usual phrases and that will be with me forever! Love Madison
Opa had the most suffocating hugs ever and the love he had for watching my volleyball games was immense. You’ll always hold a place in my heart. I will miss making your coffee NATO Standard! I love you Opa. Fly high. Love Sidney
Opa always gifted so much to his grandchildren. He bought me my first car. Opa was always joking around especially at restaurants towards the workers. He was always smiling at family gatherings and was so proud of all of us and loved seeing us grow up. Love Jordan
Opa, I will always have a piece of your musical soul a part of me and through that we will stay connected. I love you. One of the things I will miss about Opa is his love for his family. His face lit up whenever he saw all of us. I loved him for being so proud, caring and always shining his vibrant smile with his glistening tears in the corners of his eyes. Love Katrina
One of the things I will cherish most about Opa was his love for his family. His face lit up whenever he saw all of us. This is an image I will keep close to my heart forever. Love Lily
Opa was always there for me and made me feel so special. I will miss his Dad jokes and his suffocating hugs. Although he is gone, a day won’t go by where I don’t think of my Opa. Love Johanna
People say that the first thing you forget about a person is their voice, I think we all agree that with our Opa that won’t be the case. He was boisterous and unapologetic, always loudly talking in the most inconvenient of circumstances. I will always remember him singing Que Sera Sera to us when we were kids, Thank you Opa, we love you. Love Elly
Opa was a proud Catholic and attended Notre Dame Church in Selkirk and recently at St. Theresa’s in West St Paul. He was known to all and was a proud member of the Knights of Columbus. Opa would often volunteer at the church and his loud singing and firm handshakes will be greatly missed.
Our Opa died suddenly on May 1st 2020 in his home in St. Andrews with his wife of 53 years by his side. He will be greatly missed by his children Maryanne (Kris) Thorkelson, Correna (Stephen) Peck, Susanne (Colin) Angus, and Thomas (Cheryl) Haughton, as well 13 amazing grandchildren listed by age; Elizebeth Thorkelson, Jordan Peck, Johanna Thorkelson, Sidney Peck, Lily Thorkelson, William Angus, Alexander Angus, Madison Peck, Katrina Thorkelson, Samuel Angus, Sophie Haughton, Kaylee Haughton, and Thomas Haughton. He also leaves behind his two loyal adorable fur babies Lady (Lacey) and Max. Opa is also survived by 5 brothers Bob, Peter, Jack, Fred, Gary and sister Corrie as well as their families in Ontario, brother in law Fred (Charlene) Slukynsky and family, dear cousins Ted and David Haughton and family in B.C. as well as many nieces and nephews in the Haughton and Slukynsky families. Opa will be greatly missed by all.
Opa is predeceased by his loving mother Cornelia Bernadina Elbrecht Haughton and his father Gerritt Jan Driessen, step father Thomas Agar Haughton, special aunt and uncle Phyllis and Jack Shenton, his mother and father in law Mary and William Slukynsky as well his brother in law Mike Slukynsky.
Thank you to the St. Andrews EMS and the Selkirk RCMP for attending so quickly to Baba’s 911 call. You did everything you could to help our Opa in the middle of a global pandemic and we are forever grateful.
Thank you to Father David for blessing Opa. On the sad cloudy morning that Opa passed the sun came out briefly as we prayed for our Dad and Opa’s soul. We felt God was closely watching over us and that Dad was close and at peace.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, to your favourite Pet Rescue or to the St. Theresa’s Church Building Fund.
The Broken Chain
We little knew that morning.
God was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly,
In death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone.
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.
You left us beautiful memories,
Your love is still our guide.
And although we cannot see you,
You are always by our side.
Our family chain is broken,
And nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.
Author: Ron Tranmer
A Funeral Mass and Celebration of Life will be held at a later date when Manitoba Public Health allows large gatherings to gather once again.
Condolences may be left on his tribute wall at www.gilbartfuneralhome.com.
Gilbart Funeral Home Selkirk in care of arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Thomas (Tom) Haughton, please visit our floral store.