George Christian Axen passed away peacefully on January 7, 2011 in Smithers BC. He was born Jorgen Kristian Axen in Vestra Harg, Ostergothland, Sweden on November 1, 1923. He emigrated to Canada as a child in 1932 with his mother and sister, rejoining his father who had emigrated earlier to establish a home in the Squamish area. George grew up in Brackendale, BC attending elementary and high school in Squamish, BC. After graduating from UBC with a degree in agriculture in 1944, George served in the Royal Canadian Navy Service. As a young man George travelled throughout BC with his work in the BC Department of Agriculture. George married Mary Kathleen Gilgan on March 30, 1948 in Burns Lake BC. George and Mary embarked on a life of hard work in farming and the forestry industry, living in Palling, then Forestdale and finally in Topley, BC. A strong supporter of the local community, George’s involvement in community service included School Trustee, Burns Lake Hospital Board member, BC Beef Growers’ Association member, Topley Cemetery Board member, Canadian Centennial Committee, and Forest Warden. In the early 1960’s he lobbied hard to bring hydroelectric service to the area through his volunteering as secretary on the Rural Electrification Assistance Committee. Also during the 1960’s, to offset the costs of the newly constructed Topley Hall, George and Mary organized Topley Community Club/Recreation Commission community dances. They also provided square dancing and ballroom dancing instruction to local young people.
George was predeceased by his parents, Karl Erik Vilhelm Axen and Berte Knutsdotter Osterholt, and his sister Ellen. George is survived by Mary, his wife of 62 years; his brothers Frank and David; and sister Iris. He is also survived by his four children Patricia, Arne (Maureen), Audrey, Linda (Alex); seven grandchildren Katie (Ryan), Eric, Robert, Alexander, Andrea, Elizabeth, and Calypso; and three great-grandchildren Sam, Sarah, and Bart.
He will be remembered by family and friends as a man who loved the pristine beauty of northern BC, leaving the Bulkley Valley seldom and always with reluctance. Heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the professional and compassionate nursing care George received over his many years at Bulkley Lodge in Smithers, which allowed George to spend his final years in the region of his adopted country that he loved so much.
A memorial service to honour George’s life will be held at a later date in Topley, BC. In lieu of flowers donations could be made to the Bulkley Lodge, Box 3640 Smithers, BC V0J 2N0.