TANNOUS, Jerry, Edmond, LCdr (Ret’d), CD, Sea Log, RCLS

TannousJerry died peacefully on 9 March after a long illness.  He was born in Edmonton, Alberta on 9 September 1940.  He is survived by his wife, Ruth, son Victor (Christine Hanson), and grandchildren Madeline and Sophia.

 Jerry’s first two decades were spent growing up in Alberta before joining the Royal Canadian Navy. He was a graduate of HMCS Venture Class of 65. 

As he said on the occasion of his 80th birthday:

 “I started out in a place called Mayerthorpe, AB. That’s my first memory. All I can remember is that Grandpa was a welder, we had an outhouse, we had Coleman lanterns, we had a rail train that burned coal, and grain elevators. And that was life for the first few years.”  

When he was six years old, they moved to Edmonton. His Dad had just returned from the war having lost his leg. Veterans Affairs helped him out, got him a nice Cape Cod house with a garage, and a job in the prosthetics department at the hospital.

From his childhood days cultivating a backyard pumpkin patch, Jerry found serenity and earnest work in his gardens. Jerry had an extraordinary knack for transforming an ordinary suburban lot into a sanctuary. He routinely produced bumper crops of tomatoes of varying varieties and was proud to share them at family meals. It wasn’t unusual for him to offer visitors one of his young upstart houseplants, such as a transplant of his huge and vigorous Jerusalem cherry. He celebrated every holiday with gifts of green growth.

Jerry became a telegraph boy, as a young teenager, working for Canadian National Railway, running from the north side of Edmonton to the south side with telegrams for people. Then, for his sixteenth birthday, his dad took him down to Jasper Ave. to buy a $150 car.

As a young man Jerry went to work for the Commerce Bank which he thought was going to be his career until a friend suggested the Navy in 1960.

Jerry was dispatched to boot camp at CFB Cornwallis in Nova Scotia, where he had his first taste of salt air. Seeing ambition and aptitude, those in command sent him off to HMCS Venture, Esquimalt, BC, where in September 1963 he met Daryl Rozon, who has written a fine eulogy for his dear old friend.

These two set off on a cross country adventure with stops to visit Tannous family on the way to a new posting in Halifax. Daryl and Jerry both remember having quite the odyssey in “The Burgundy Bomb,” as the car was christened. They ran out of gas, ran into a blizzard, survived assorted setbacks and surprises, eventually making it to their destination.

Once in Halifax, Jerry finally got another chance to get his feet wet, this time heading out on the Navy’s version of a Caribbean cruise. According to Jerry, ‘This is the place for me! Get out of winter in Halifax. Holy cow! This is wonderful!’

Jerry met his bride-to-be, on a blind date through Trevor Dixon, but really, through his wife, Connie,” who hatched a plan. Nine months later, they were married, with Ruth resplendent in a beautiful handmade gown and Jerry in full uniform, and left the church flanked by sword-bearing sailors, blade tips touching on either side over the heads of the newlyweds forming a military tunnel of honour.

Jerry quite fancied dodging cold winters, but over the course of his career his employer had other ideas, posting him to Edmonton and Ottawa — even less tropical than Halifax.

Victor was born in 1968 and Richard followed shortly after in 1970. The family of four lived in Edmonton and Ottawa, before returning to Halifax in the late 1970s, where Jerry continued his ascent up the ranks to Lt. Commander. He served on 12 ships and spent 11 and a half years at sea.

A swan song posting took Jerry and Ruth to a NATO base in Germany, which featured a welcome change of scenery and pace, and some time to travel.

He couldn’t resist the urge to visit Sweden, with Ruth and her visiting mother along for the ride, in part as a nod to his mother’s heritage but also a choice chance to pick up a brand new 1992 Volvo rolling off the line.

Upon his return from Germany, he wrapped up his 35 years with the Navy. 

Gardening season is only so long so he worked for a time helping with his son’s business.

During their four years in Germany, Victor came to visit his parents and met the love of his life, a fellow Haligonian, Christine Hanson. Jerry’s first grandchild, Madeline, came along in 2008 and Sophia not long after in 2010. The silly side of Jerry came into full sunshine while playing with his grand daughters.

Jerry wasn’t the biggest fan of the family cottage or the nearby beach that Ruthie loves, but it’s been the traditional summer gathering place for an ever-expanding extended MacArthur clan. Nevertheless, he would help pack the cooler bags and the car, and drag everything in. His MacArthur nephews fondly recall the sneaky handshake that held a fiver.

Jerry was a fine wine or good cheese that took time to mellow with age. This he did with an understated grace not lost on those he loved so well.

 “I look at my years and I say to myself, ‘Wow! That’s quite a life!’

 “I just thank God that it’s been enjoyable. I’ve got a good family and people who support me. We’ll see what the future brings. Thank you.”

We salute you, Jerry. You will be well missed. Love and blessings.

Fair seas and following winds to your next port of call.

Visitation will be on Wednesday, 20 March, from 6 to 8 pm at Dartmouth Funeral Home, 29 Queen St., Dartmouth.

Funeral Mass will take place at 11 am on Thursday, 21 March at Saint John XXIII Divine Mercy Parish, 35 Colby Dr., Dartmouth.

Please consider a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society or a charity of choice.


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