Friends turned up at Yves Légaré funeral home in Chateauguay Saturday morning to remember Garnet Bourgaize, a veteran of the Second World War who passed away Jan. 5, 2020.
“I remember his humility and his kindness,” said Frank Cholette, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 108 in Chateauguay, who added that Saturday’s gathering to honour his friend was particularly sad “considering that three months ago today was his 100th birthday.
Cholette’s brother, Maj. Normand Cholette, a chaplain in the Canadian Forces, said Bourgaize was “very dedicated.”
“(He) always remained faithful — faithful to the country and faithful to the legion.”
Bourgaize was an active member of the Royal Canadian Legion for 57 years, most recently at the Chateauguay branch.
It was a role he took seriously, Cholette said.
“Remembrance Day was a big, big, big thing for him,” Frank Cholette said, “because he used to travel to the schools, the local schools here, and do a ceremony.”
Bourgaizie was a corps engineer and served for five years in Europe during the Second World War. His family says the experience was horrific but he didn’t share many of his war stories. One exception to that rule was a near-death experience he told his son about.
“A bomb came down and sliced off a side of the bed, but it didn’t hit him,” his son Leaman Owen Bourgaize told Global News, “and it landed in the basement. But it didn’t explode,” he laughed. “Can you imagine?”
But Bourgaizie’s left arm was wounded.
After the war, he returned home and left the service, but those who knew him said his war experience taught him how to handle adversity.
“He was very resilient, through the course of time, the course of his life, the challenges he had been through,” Maj. Cholette said.
Frank said he was impressed with how Bourgaize would remain positive no matter how tough life became.
“Whatever problem he had … it never showed,” he recalled.
Leaman Bourgaize agrees.
“Everything he did, he enjoyed. We used to call him happy pappy,” he smiled.
These qualities, along with his dedication to community service, are examples younger generations can learn from, his family says.