Tribute to Comrade Stephen Harvey Dunsdon
President of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 22 Summerland
I am both honoured and humbled by the opportunity to share my memories of Comrade Dunsdon.
My instructions for today were to focus on his contribution to Summerland Legion Branch 22.
Steve, a humble man to a fault, would not have liked that.
Steve is an example of a good long life, well lived.
I had the opportunity to share a beverage with Comrade Steve a couple of years ago. The occasion was my requirement for some background information in support of a newspaper article. When we arrived at the discussion of his service overseas the conversation was quite abrupt.
He said. “I went over there. I came back and some of my friends did not.” Steve continued “I serve in the Legion in honour of those who did not come back and those that needed our help when they did return. And I expect the same of every Legion member”. His point was well taken.
The true mark of a person’s life is not their great accomplishment’s (although Steve had many). By example, it is the influence that they have on the actions of those they leave behind.
I would like to share some of my thoughts and memories.
In later years despite his frailty, at Legion meetings he would struggle to stand for O Canada and the opening ceremony. He would shrug of any assistance from fellow members. Fighting through the pain caused by standing was an important way for Steve to show his respect for country, Queen and his comrades.
When the Military Vehicle Convoy visited the branch, I remember the joy in his face when he was able to sit on the same model 1943 dispatch rider’s motorcycle that he spent so much time on during his war service. That same joy and smile was there, recently when he was Honourary parade marshal in this year’s Provincial convention parade.
Steve was his own man. Forthright, honest and respectful to a turn, he was equally comfortable giving advice to the Federal Minister for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs as he was at encouraging me, a rookie member on the local Legion executive. Other’s respected these qualities in Steve, and rewarded him the responsibilities of ever continuing high office within the Legion until he became Dominion President.
Determination, long term dedication to duty and service, the joy of a life well lived, honesty and of course always speaking his own mind. All qualities we can only hope to emulate.
Some have recently said that the “soul” of the Summerland Legion left this week.
Two of the emblems of the Legion are the Torch and the Poppy. Steve has passed the Torch and the Poppy to those of us who remain and “who now grow old”. We must carry them forward and do our best to serve as he did. Steve will be watching to ensure we do.
I will leave you with a story that will explain my admiration for Comrade Dunsdon.
My wife and I moved to Summerland 5 years ago to help keep an eye on my mum after my father passed away. We decided that the only way to meet people was to get involved in the community. We joined the Legion because my late father, a veteran, spoke highly and often of his own Legion involvement.
On the occasion of my installation as a Legion member, afterwards, I was standing by myself as I did not really know anybody. Steve came over to welcome and congratulate me. (I might mention, he was the only one who did so) He asked if my father was Rollie Dorn. “Yes he was” I replied. Steve said “I knew your father well. He was a fine and honourable man”.
Those words were of great comfort to me at that time.
I would like to close by telling the Dunsdon family that there father, grandfather, great-grandfather and husband , Steve, ………..was a fine and honourable man.
You should all take great comfort in knowing that.