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Obituary

HEWITT LAIRD HORNBECK (published on January 23, 2010)



DR. HEWITT LAIRD HORNBECK, O.D. 1921 - 2010 Hewitt passed away peacefully with family at his side on January 16, 2010 at the Swan Valley Health Centre. He will be sadly missed by his loving wife of 62 years, Phyllis, his son Gordon (Dale), daughter Zoe (Brian Thompson), son Garry (Leslie), his eight grandchildren and his two great-grandchildren. Hewitt was born May 13, 1921 on the family farm in Balmoral, Manitoba to John Laird Hornbeck and Madeline Edith Hornbeck (nee Morton). He was raised in a family of five children. Hewitt obtained his elementary education in Balmoral then moved to Winnipeg where he completed his high school at Gordon Bell. After graduation, Hewitt signed up in August 1939 with the R.C.A.F Army Cooperation Squadron. After training he was sent overseas where he served in England until the end of the war. He was discharged in September 1946. Hewitt then attended University in Toronto where he obtained his Doctor of Optometry. While in Toronto he met and married Phyllis Mae Fletcher. After their marriage, they moved back to Manitoba where Hewitt completed his internship in Brandon, while Phyllis stayed in Winnipeg expecting the arrival of their second child, daughter Zoe. At the completion of his internship in 1950, Hugh and Phyllis moved to Swan River to set up the first Optometric practice in the Swan River Valley. Times were tough and building up a new practice wasn't easy, but they persevered, worked hard, made many very good life-long friends and built a successful practice. Along the way their three children Gordon, Zoe, and Gary arrived. Hugh was not only dedicated to his family and his profession, but to his entire community. From the beginning, Hugh and others worked hard to bring hydro and waterworks to the town. He served on Town Council as Deputy Mayor under George Scaff. Hugh served on the School Board, the Hospital Board, the Masonic Lodge where he became Grand First Principal of Manitoba. He also served with the Rotary Club, the Library Board, the Swan Valley Historical Society, the Museum Board, the Band Booster Club, the Northwest Roundup Board, and could be found contributing and working for nearly every community project that ever took place in Swan River in his active years. Hugh also instructed Air Cadets and was one of the founding members of the Swan Valley Flying Club. In the early days, Hugh liked to get out into the wilderness to hunt and fish, to rock hunt and to search for archaeological finds and to enjoy nature. He became a strong voice for birds, fish, mammals and amphibians as he noted their habitats disappearing. He did the annual Christmas Bird Count for the Audubon Society, worked with several universities including Cornell and assisted many night-time owl counts. He set up hundreds of blue bird boxes in the valley and was instrumental in developing the Duck Mountain Forestry Centre. He studied the birds at Oak Hammock and Delta Marsh Research Station. He belonged to and supported the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and their work in the Valley. He worked with the Louisiana Pacific Stakeholders Committee to preserve the nests of great blue herons, hawks and many different owls for years to come. Hugh submitted many articles and Letters to the Editor in the Star and Times on the theme of birds and feathers. He was a very busy man, but he never forgot that family comes first. He was a devoted husband and father who set high standards and encouraged his children to do the same and to do their best. He toured his family in his station wagon all over North America on family vacations, and then he and Phyllis travelled to the Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Northwest Territories, Churchill and Alaska. When his grandchildren were old enough he took each of them to either Disneyland, Disney World or a Caribbean Cruise trip. These children will never ever forget these times. Paul Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. A Legion Funeral Service was held at the Swan River Veterans Hall on Thursday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m. A grave side interment service was held at Victoria Church Cemetery, Balmoral Manitoba on Friday, January 22 at 2:00 p.m. A family reception followed at the Balmoral Hall.


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