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Remembering a crew member

December 19th, 2017
Roger Graveline

Roger Graveline

 

Roger Graveline is being remembered a good-natured man with a calm demeanour, pleasant to be around, and a true professional with great stories, by those who served with him on Port Colborne Marine Auxiliary Rescue unit.

Mr. Graveline, a member of POCOMAR for three years, passed away peacefully at home after a lengthy illness on Sunday, December 17, at the age of 60. Mr. Graveline worked for more 30 years in the Emergency Medical Services, primarily with the air ambulance.

“Roger was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Every time I saw him he would share stories about the adventures he had throughout his life.  From land ambulances to air ambulances, Coast Guard and accidents … there was always an interesting tale,” said unit commander Norm Dashwood.

Dashwood said when Mr. Graveline joined his crew two summers ago, he was unsure of what to expect, as he had never worked with him before.

“He quickly became a part of the team and was well liked by everyone. He was very competent on our vessels and extremely dedicated to POCOMAR. He was keen on safety.  I will never forget him showing up for training each week in a bright yellow live vest and a reflective helmet. At first I found it a bit quirky, but his mannerisms quickly grew on me.  I have considered Roger a dear friend almost from the beginning and will miss him,” said Dashwood.

He said last year, Mr. Graveline received a medal for heroism from the Canadian Coast Guard Auxilliary.

“It was an honor to present this award to him. In the midst of his medical battles, it gave him a little reason to smile.  Although, he always found a reason to smile. Even in the thick of it he would tell me things weren’t that bad.”

Dashwood said Mr. Graveline was always in such great spirits.

“I looked at Roger as a true professional who brought a great deal of experience and knowledge to the Wednesday crew. In his past working life he had faced many situations as an EMS personnel that would probably unnerve even the toughest person. I think it was as a result of that past experience that he always seemed to have a calmness while out on the water,” said member Tim Welychka.

Welychka said he enjoyed listening to Mr. Graveline’s stories of his EMS days when he told them or his thoughts on life in general.

“He had a great deal to offer POCOMAR and he will certainly be missed.”

Amber Dashwood, POCOMAR’s training officer, said Roger will certainly be missed by the Wednesday crew.

“He was humble, yet very competent and extremely dedicated to the unit and our mandate. He exemplified what a POCOMAR crew member should be.  He was always quick to smile and share a joke (usually when we were downwind of the cormorants). There was never a time he wasn’t a pleasure to be around.”

She said her most memorable moment with Mr. Graveline was on a call in 2016, for which he was awarded a medal of heroism.

“In all the chaos of a very urgent and dangerous situation as we were securing the distress vessel to pull it from immediate danger, it was Roger who kept his head and obtained information we needed to perform the call,” she said.

Marty Courage said Mr. Graveline was very dedicated at POCOMAR and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxilliary.

“He loved the training and participating with crew members, and he was eager to get right into it. He had great life stories, surviving falling out of a helicopter, involvement in a motorcycle collision and other near death experiences.”

Courage said Mr. Graveline was a qualified pilot and his dream was to be a full time member of the Canadian Coast Guard, which he finally achieved but was forced to put on hold after notification of his cancer.

“He was a good friend and will be missed by everyone.”

Sheila Lindsey said Mr. Graveline was on her crew the first year he was with the unit and she had the privilege of being his coxswain.

“He had an amazing wealth of knowledge and experience. He was so good natured. He definitely endeared himself. I’ll miss his joyful spirit and his servant’s heart,” Lindsey said.

Ian MacGregor said Mr. Graveline was a great guy.

“He was always cheerful and helpful. He was very competent. Not a bad word to say about anyone or anything. Very pleasant to be around. It is cruel that he was taken so soon,” he said.

Scott Wolfe, the unit’s operations officer, said Mr. Graveline went out of his way constantly behind the scenes to help him with maintenance when he was healthy.

“He was incredibly helpful and never self-serving and never stopped asking how he could help. He was incredibly professional and safety orientated. When I visited him in the hospital, he fought cancer with more poise and patience than I could possibly imagine. Not a nasty bone in his body,” Wolfe said,

He said Mr. Graveline took POCOMAR very seriously and never stopped talking about the unit.

“I already miss his calm and polite way of addressing any issue that arose. I was so lucky to have him as a friend. His memory lives on in our dedication and service,” Wolfe said.

His obituary said he was predeceased by his father Raymond, cherished father of Justin and dear son of Laura.

“He leaves behind his much loved brothers Denis (Laura), Darnell (Pam), Elvin (Chris) and Ron. He will be forever missed by Joanne, loving friend Ludi and his many nieces, nephews, cousins, co-workers and friends.  He enjoyed the outdoors, especially fishing and spending time with Justin at the hunting camp in Pembroke,” the obituary reads.

His family will receive friends at the Armstrong Funeral Home and Chapel, 179 Clarence Street, Port Colborne on Wednesday, December 20 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Vigil Prayers will be held at the funeral home on Wednesday at 2 p.m. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 21, at St. Therese of Lisieux Roman Catholic Church, 379 Fares Street, Port Colborne, with Father Michael Andrysiak as celebrant.

Rite of Committal will follow at Mount St. Joseph Cemetery, Port Colborne.

If so desired, memorial donations may be made to the Walker Family Cancer Centre. Online condolences available at www.armstrongfuneralhome.ca.

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Roger Graveline on P1