Southwest Branch MGS Celebrates 40th Anniversary

The Southwest Branch celebrated its 40th Anniversary by hosting a reception on April 20th at the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon. President George Mackay welcomed over 40 people in attendance. The evening featured a slide presentation of highlights from Branch activities over the last several years.

The following tribute was made in honour of Jack Dodds, a long-time member of the Branch who passed away on August 12, 2017. His family was in attendance and helped to unveil the Branch’s new banner, dedicated to Jack. The following is a transcript of the tribute to Jack made by Laura Crookshanks:

It is an honour for me to have the opportunity to pay tribute to Jack this evening.

Jack joined the Southwest Branch in 2001 and was always very active in Branch activities.  He contributed to our Branch in so many ways. I will outline only a few: Jack was Vice-President of Administration. He was instrumental in helping to move our resource library to Knox United Church. He was editor of The New Leaf for many years. He received the Ruth Tester Award in 2012. Jack continued to come out to regular meetings even after experiencing health issues.

One of the major contributions Jack made in the last several years was in dealing with research requests received by the Branch. He was always very thorough about following up every lead, checking all the sources he could think of. But he always hated to charge people for his time. When we established a policy around research fees for the Branch, he willingly did the research but I remember one time, when I was President, he said to me  “you can charge them if you like, but I really didn’t do that much”. Meanwhile, I knew he had spent several hours on the research.  If Jack didn’t find it, it probably wasn’t there!

Jack was proud of his roots in the Birtle area and would happily share information about Birtle and surrounding area as well as all the numerous people he knew there. On a personal note, when he found out I had ancestors from Birtle area, he connected me with a cousin I did not know about and kept prodding me to go and see him.  His gentle reminders worked and it was a very meaningful meeting for me, one that I would not have experienced without Jack’s knowledge but just as importantly his interest in helping me.

Jack partnered with Fred McGuinness for several years. Jack would drive Fred around the countryside to their events. Fred did the “Writing Your Memoirs” part of their gig and Jack covered the genealogy piece. They were a good pair and their sessions were always well-received.

Jack was a true community person – he was involved with organizations like the Optimist Club, the United Way, Heart and Stroke, Canadian Mental Health Association and Civil Air Search and Rescue as well as being active in union activities. It was amazing to listen to him, how much he knew about this area and how many people he knew – all over southwestern Manitoba .

As I reflect on Jack’s involvement with the Southwest Branch, there are several words that come to mind: well-liked, ready smile, always willing to help anyone. He had a natural curiosity about whatever puzzle or roadblock you faced and how he might help you along,

The Southwest Branch is much richer for Jack’s input and his influence will continue to be felt as we grow and develop – his hand will be seen in many of our future endeavors.

 

 

The evening concluded with cake, refreshments, renewing acquaintances and sharing memories.