Husband, father, patriarch, Scouter, Christian, politician. Born June 17, 1930, in Toronto, died Jan. 30, 2012, in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, aged 81.
Don Blenkarn was a larger-than-life person, and not just in girth: He filled every space he entered.
He was known for his booming voice and his jovial “ho ho.”
His philosophy of life was, if one is good for you, two would be better! This rule applied to food, medications, cigarettes and rye.
While he gave up cigarettes at the age of 50, they still contributed to his lung failure. The double ryes kept him mellow enough to endure his diminishing physical capacity through his later years.
Don invested both time and money in people. He helped many of his former Boy Scouts and extended family with loans, insight and time.
He had his first paying job at the age of 11, and by 26 was a partner in a law firm. After many years of hard work, he deemed that he had accumulated enough wealth to give his time to Canada instead. Don served the Canadian people, as member of Parliament for Peel South and Mississauga South from 1972 until 1993. He talked of those exhilarating years as the best time of his life.
The great outdoors was a lifelong love of Don’s. From his youth as a Scout he learned to value wilderness adventure. He passed that love on to others as a Scout and Rover leader. He lived it during his yearly summer canoe trips through northern Ontario and Quebec.
Much to his wife Marguerite’s chagrin, Don decided that their weekend place, “The Farm,” would be rustic to suit his pioneer tastes. It wasn’t until his political life began that he finally relented and installed modern amenities. The Farm became just that in his later years when, in partnership with his son, he started tree farming.
Don loved to drive his tractor around, and the best times were when he could tow a trailer-load of friends and family. The only drawback was that he seldom remembered that the tractor fit through a smaller space than the trailer!
Don met Marguerite in Victoria while articling for a law firm after completing his law degree at the University of Toronto in 1952. Marguerite and he shared three children and 58 loving years.
One of their shared joys was travelling. Over their time together, they managed to visit more than 75 countries. Don preferred to rent a car and just tour on his own – an alarming thought for those of us who had the scary experience of being a passenger in his car.
Church was important to Don. His book of choice for long wilderness adventures was the Bible. He believed in serving God by lavishly using the talents he had been given for the benefit of others. He will be missed by all whose lives he has touched.
Mary Schoenhardt is Don’s sister.