“Boys O’ boys” … WHAT A GREAT LIFE!
Byron passed away peacefully at South Muskoka Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge with his family at his side following a short hospitalization relating to his pulmonary fibrosis. He was a vibrant and active 85-year-old right up to, and including, the day of his admission. Byron enjoyed life to the fullest and was always on the go. He has left behind his wife of 52 years, Hylda (nee Wilcox). She was his ‘sweetheart’ to the end. Byron will be greatly missed by his son Colin and daughter-in-law Kristen, his daughter Kelly, son-in-law Jamie Nairn and his grandsons Tannor and Ryley. Byron leaves behind his youngest brother Alan (Sonya) and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother Bruce (Patricia) and his sister Marlene Cameron (Ken).
Byron was the eldest of 4 children born to Reginald James Coker and Marion Alice Ritchie and grew up in Leaside. Byron was a proud graduate of the University of Toronto Pharmacy Class of 6T1 and practiced as a pharmacist both in Scarborough and later in Port Carling at his independent pharmacies known as “The Apothecary Shop”.
His incredibly well-rounded skills and endless energy allowed Byron to build his modest cottage on Lake Rosseau in the mid-sixties as he was studying at University. This cottage has since been renovated into their year-round home and has become a very special place for extended family and friends to visit and enjoy quality time in “God’s Country” as he loved to call it.
Byron was an avid sports fan and enjoyed playing many sports himself including golf, curling and tennis. He enjoyed golfing every Thursday with his men’s group. He was recently honoured to have been granted Lifetime Membership at the Port Carling Curling Club where he had been an eager and very active member since making Port Carling his year-round home in 1989.
Byron had energy beyond his years and delighted in serving his community. He and his wife, Hylda, were recognized by the District of Muskoka with their Community Services Recognition Award as Outstanding Community Contributors in 2015.
Byron has also been an active and contributing member of the Port Carling United Church for many decades. He could often be seen coming and going on a daily basis at all hours, cutting grass, shoveling snow, removing garbage and recycling and doing other odd jobs to keep the church looking great and functioning well.
As an enthusiastic and outgoing member of the Port Carling Lions Club, Byron thoroughly enjoyed contributing heavily to the day-to-day activities of the Lions over the past 30 years. He was honoured years ago to receive the “Melvin Jones Fellow Award for Dedicated Humanitarian Services” (the highest-ranking award presented to a Lion) and more recently, their “Footprint Award” in 2014. In his years following retirement – Byron found a new ‘full time job’ in the “Bottleworks of Port Carling” a program run by the PC Lions which accepts donations of empty bottles and cans that would otherwise clutter our landfill and returns them to depots – collecting the money to be put toward worthy community initiatives. Byron visited our local landfill on an almost daily basis sorting and tidying the donated bottles and cans and loading them into his precious ‘beer-wagon’ for transport to local depots. There was nothing that he enjoyed more than ‘putting a load on’ with his Lion buddies. He absolutely delighted in telling anyone who would listen about the money that they would bring in each day and the amount of waste that they were diverting from the landfill. He loved visiting with folks at the landfill – many of whom he knew from days gone by in the pharmacy or his community activities. He truly thrived in this environment!
Byron will be truly missed as a pillar of the community of Port Carling. His extended family and many friends from Toronto, Muskoka and beyond will cherish and remember him as a kind soul and true gentleman. Good-bye Poppa – thank you for all that you have given and taught us. You will never be forgotten! “LUV-YA!”
Cremation has taken place. A private family service will take place when Covid restrictions lift enough to allow it, as will a larger community-based Celebration of Life. Notification to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Port Carling United Church, the Port Carling Lions Club or the South Muskoka Hospital Foundation would be appreciated.
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