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Memorial service held for Alberta pilot killed in B.C. island plane crash

Memorial held for Alberta pilot killed in plane crash in B.C.
WATCH: It was a very fitting backdrop for a man who belonged in the air. Hundreds gathered inside Nanton's Bomber Command Museum for 62-year-old pilot Alex Bahlsen, who died in a plane crash on B.C.'s Gabriola Island. Jill Croteau has more from the celebration of life.

Friends and family of Alex Bahlsen are remembering the life of a man “taken too soon,” at a celebration of life in Nanton, Alta., on Friday.

Bahlsen was one of three people killed when the small plane he was piloting went down on B.C.’s Gabriola Island on Dec. 10.

He and his wife, who is also a pilot, had an air ranch in southern Alberta, and Bahlsen had strong ties to The Bomber Command Museum of Canada, where the service was held.

“Here I am at the turn of the decade speaking for a pilot for whom I had the greatest respect of my old friends, my best friend, my husband and the best captain and copilot in my life,” said Bahlsen’s wife, Elizabeth Murphy Bahlsen.

The couple shared their time between Alberta and Mill Bay, B.C., the family said in a statement last week.

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READ MORE: Family of pilot killed in B.C. plane crash remembering ‘loving husband, father and grandfather’

The family described Bahlsen as a “fun-loving, big-hearted, down to earth guy who loved people, animals, adventure and life,” who died “doing something he loved.”

“We were so grateful to have him. He always made time for us,” Bahlsen’s daughter, Taryn Zroback said.

“He truly believed this was the way to live. Dad believed if you wanted to do something — do it. Don’t hesitate, don’t wait.

“We love you daddio.”

People gathered at a celebration of life for pilot Alex Bahlsen who died in a plane crash in B.C. on Dec. 10.
People gathered at a celebration of life for pilot Alex Bahlsen who died in a plane crash in B.C. on Dec. 10. Jill Croteau/Global News

“He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. We as a family are absolutely devastated,” the family’s Dec. 13 statement read.

“We knew this day could come; however, Alex always had a way of making us feel like it never would.”

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In the days following the crash, other people close to Bahlsen shared stories and memories of the life he lived and legacy he was leaving behind, including an animal rescue agency.

Albertan identified as victim in B.C. plane crash
Albertan identified as victim in B.C. plane crash

He not only flew some of these animals for us, he would foster for us,” Shelly Loree with Pilots N Paws Canada Animal Rescue said. “He really was worth his weight in gold.”

READ MORE: ‘Worth his weight in gold’: Pilot killed in Gabriola crash remembered for animal rescue work

Tim Dwyer, Bahlsen’s friend, said on Friday that his life and death have taught his loved a lot about life and that “it’s always sunny above the clouds” — a saying Bahlsen lived his life by.

“We have learned to tell those who matter the most how important they are because we never know when it will be the last time we will be able to hug them,” Dwyer said.

Bahlsen was also remembered as an “amazing pilot, mentor and friend” by members of the Nanaimo Flying Club, which he was a part of.

“His love for flying was marked by his unwavering professionalism while in the air and on the ground.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that people donate to a memorial fund being set up in Bahlsen’s name “so others can share his passion for flying.”

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