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Stanton leaves Chemainus a legacy of volunteering

Longtime firefighter devoted himself to the community
Dick Stanton displays the time clock used to punch in at the old Chemainus sawmill when he worked there. (File photo by Don Bodger)

Longtime Chemainus resident Richard (Dick) Stanton will always be remembered for his kindness, caring nature and dedication.

For going above and beyond the call of duty, the community salutes him. Stanton died Thursday, Oct. 21 at Cowichan District Hospital at the age of 93.

“Selflessness and giving, volunteering, that was his life and he did it very modestly,” said son Ken Stanton. “He never took any compliments, other than thank you and no ego at all.”

Dick is best-known for his 32 years of service with the Chemainus Fire Department, including 13 years as chief of the department before retiring from firefighting at the end of 1985.

“I’ve decided to leave completely,” said a 57-year-old Stanton at the time for an article in the Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle. “Fighting fires is a young man’s game. As you get older, you get slower.”

Stanton did a yeoman’s service for the department over the years, including being involved with the truck committee and driving a new No. 4 firetruck along with another driver all the way from Montreal back to Chemainus.

Stanton inspired the younger generation like his son Ken, Rob Sharp, Eric Thomsen and others to get involved with the department.

“He was a good role model,” said Ken. “He really brought up the standards of volunteer fire departments.”

Dick was born in Birtle, Manitoba and left the farming community to come to Chemainus in 1950 where he met Irean, his eventual wife of 68 years. He was employed at the MacMillan Bloedel sawmill in Chemainus for 32 years working as a crane and carrier operator and then fire and security.

Stanton found his calling as a volunteer ambulance driver and firefighter. He obtained his industrial first aid ticket after moving to Chemainus and put that expertise to good use.

“At that time, the fire department ran the local ambulance unit and I thought it would be the best way to utilize my first aid ticket,” he said in the 1985 Chronicle article.

Stanton helped bring much innovation to the Chemainus department, including computers, a training tower and the valuable Jaws of Life rescue tool.

His volunteerism knew no bounds and included Rotary, the Chemainus Hospital Foundation, Royal Canadian Legion 191 and 14 years for the Chemainus Valley Museum.

Ken noted his dad really loved volunteering at the museum. Dick showed tourists from all over the world the sawmill whistle and the time card slot he used.

Hockey played a big part in Chemainus life after Fuller Lake Arena opened in 1968 and Stanton was a frequent fan in the building from the beginning and following his family’s hockey pursuits at other arenas.

”He loved his grandkids’ hockey and all of his seven grandkids and nine great grandkids,” added Ken.

Ken, wife Denise and other family members have been overwhelmed by all the kind words expressed to them about Dick.

”We are deeply grateful for everyone’s thoughts, comments and kindness,” they expressed. “Dad was an extraordinary man. His humble career with the Chemainus sawmill was just a sidekick for dad. Dad was truly a great role model for our family and our community. Please consider ways to get involved in this great town of Chemainus, like Dick Stanton did.”

Dick is survived by wife Irean, daughter Jacqueline (Russell), sons Ken (Denise) and Phillip (Shelley), sister May Lambert and brother Edward Stanton (Sandy) plus all the grandchildren and great grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life was held on Nov. 27 at the Chemainus Legion.

Dick Stanton is fifth from left in the front row of this photo in front of the old Chemainus Fire Hall. (Photo submitted) Dick Stanton is fifth from left in the front row of this photo in front of the old Chemainus Fire Hall. (Photo submitted)
Dick Stanton was a much-admired and respected community member. (Photo submitted)
Dick Stanton in the middle of the extended family. (Photo submitted)