Sympathies to Royce's family for the loss of a good caring man he will be miss
Royce Johnston Griffith August 9, 1931 - June 12, 2020
It is with sadness that we announce that the thinking stool has been put away for the final time and the fire in the stove has gone out.
Royce Johnston Griffith died on June 12th at the CHUS Fleurimont in Sherbrooke, QC.
Royce, in his 89th year, was the eldest child of Merlin Griffith (d1982) and Jessie Johnston (d1999). He was born and raised on a dairy farm in Gore, QC, to which he kept a strong connection all his life. Royce grew up with his sister Helen and brother Wayne, and until very recently, Wayne continued to operate the family farm.
During his growing up years, Royce spent considerable time with his grandfather Eddie Griffith, who he greatly admired and from whom he learned many of the life skills that would enable him to provide for his own family.
The railway tracks ran through the bottom of the farm property, and daily the train stopped to pick up milk cans to take to the Guaranteed Pure Milk factory in the city. There were stories told of family members, living in Montreal, who would come out to the farm on the afternoon train for the evening to play cards and music, and then head back into the city afterwards. The train was such an integral part of his daily life, and made such a great impression on him as a boy, that it was not surprising when Royce chose to spend his early adult years working on the railroad, many of those years as a fireman. Later in life, he would often talk about the old Quebec Central Railroad and the various routes he had travelled.
It was while attending the old school house in Gore that Royce met Winnifred Gee, on his first day of grade two. Their courtship would be a long one! They were married on Sept. 24, 1955, and had three children, Jennifer (1957), Peter (1959) and Douglas (1963). Royce and Winnifred took over the responsibility of the Gee family farm in the mid 1960’s. This farm, barely 2 miles from his childhood farm, is where he raised his own family and managed a successful herd of holsteins. At the time of the herd dispersal sale in the early 1980’s, Sugar Ridge Farm was amongst the top 5% for milk production in Quebec.
In his mid-twenties, Royce joined the Masonic Lodge, which became a pivotal component of his life. He was very proud to have been part of the St. Francis Lodge for over 60 years, and received his Life Membership in 2018.
Royce volunteered for many years on the management and building committee of the Wales Home.
As he was never someone who could just sit idle, when his son Peter and son-in-law Geoff purchased the local animal feed mill in Richmond, his unique talents in construction, metal work, and general tinkering were called on often, and many a time he would receive an SOS call to help with some project or other. Until his heart attack in 2011, he was always more than willing to lend a helping hand.
The old Gee farm remained in the family until 1987. At that time, Royce and Winnifred sold, and bought a property in Melbourne. At this location, Royce set up his shop and worked on many projects over the years. Never a day would go by without somebody stopping in to have him fix this, or repair that, or build something, and it was here that Royce was in his element. If your hay wagon needed welding, or you wanted some outdoor furniture, or a swing set for your kids, or a piece of furniture for the Green Auction, Royce was your man! The shop door was always open, and he was always ready for visitors – old friends, or new friends or neighbours who had heard of this fellow who could fix anything. No one was a stranger here! He could often be found in his shop, pipe between his teeth, sitting on his ‘thinking stool’ pondering how he was going to tackle his next project.
Because of declining health, Royce and Winnifred moved to the Wales Home in 2017 where Royce took a great interest in the many changes that were happening on the grounds, and a conversation was never complete without some comment about what had been going on that day. He did enjoy his new home, meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old ones, and he often spoke of his ‘new family’ at the Wales Home, and frequently commented on how well the staff cared for him.
Royce was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Winnifred Gee (d2017), his daughter Jennifer (d2008), and great-granddaughter baby Stella Griffith (d2017).
He leaves to mourn his sister Helen (Keith Goodhue), his brother Wayne (Julia Gunter), his son-in-law Geoffrey Webber, his son Peter (Charlotte Beattie), and his son Douglas (Allison Beattie), as well as many other relatives, and many new and long-time friends.
He will be sorely missed by his grandchildren, Anne, Erin (Matthew Toth), Kyle (Marie-Pierre Bégin) and Amber (Eamonn Waters) Griffith; Robin (Andrea Jung) and Jamie Webber; and Alexander, Jessica (Curtis McGrath), and Kathleen Griffith; as well as his three great-grandchildren, Élizabeth, Liam and Olivia Griffith. Royce was very proud of the achievements of his grandchildren, commenting often in recent years about how much they had all accomplished in their education and their potential for their own life journey.
Sadly, as isolation was imposed on all seniors’ homes to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in mid-March, preventing friends and family from freely visiting the elderly, this took its toll on Royce. His natural affinity for social interaction came to a screeching halt, and his health started to decline. So it was that early in the morning of June 12th, Royce, Dad, brother, uncle, Grandpa or Great Grandpa (whatever you called him) took his final walk through the hills and valleys of the Eastern Townships, which he was proud to call home all his life.
In this time of Covid-19 restrictions, a private funeral will take place with only immediate family members present. Rev. Wayne Beamer will preside over the service. In lieu of flowers, donations to The Wales Home Foundation would be greatly appreciated by the family.