Little Current Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177 celebrates honours and awards

Comrade Cathy Morrison, centre, was named this year’s Branch 177 Royal Canadian Legion’s Legionnaire of the Year and presented with a plaque and a dozen beautiful red roses. She is shown with executive member Tom Stephens, left, and past president and Honours and Awards Committee chair Debbie Menard.

LITTLE CURRENT—Branch 177 of the Royal Canadian Legion celebrated its annual “Honours and Awards” ceremony last Friday, December 30 at the branch in Little Current.

Debbie Menard, past-president of Branch 177 and chair of the Honours and Awards Committee, presided over the evening, beginning with a prayer by Branch Chaplain Paul Allard for the members who have died over the past 12 months. These include Comrades Joe Williamson, Len McCoy, Barb Jordan, Fred Burger and Ron Bowerman.

The Legionnaire of the Year Award, the most prestigious honour, was presented by Branch Executive member Tom Stephens to Cathy Morrison. Ms. Menard noted in her remarks that Ms. Morrison, a 22-year Legion member and current branch secretary treasurer, has also worked as a bartender and currently volunteers periodically in that position. “She picks up bar and kitchen supplies in Sudbury. She helps with taking debris off the property, most recently helping remove the old flooring and prepping the floor for the installation of new bar flooring and then reorganizing to have the bar reopen. She has also donated monetary and other items to the branch in the past,” Ms. Menard said, concluding that “we thank you so much, Cathy for your dedication and commitment to the branch.” Ms. Morrison was overcome and said tearfully that, “I don’t deserve this,” but a standing ovation in her honour indicated the Legion members felt otherwise.

Darrell (Spike) Eadie, a long-time member, was honoured with the Branch Service Medal, presented to him by branch president Ruth Eadie. Ms. Bedard explained that the 21-year member has held the positions of hall chairman and bar chairman for several years and is also an executive member.  She added that Mr. Eadie assists with Legion functions such as barbeques, fish fries and the annual Funspiel and goes out of his way to help clean up after these functions and also helps with yard maintenance.

Another special branch award was presented by executive members Paul Abbot to Bruce Lovelace, a 19-year Legion member. Ms. Menard told the crowd that Mr. Lovelace has used his expertise as a welder to assist the branch in many ways. “We truly appreciate all that you do for the branch, Bruce, and are very grateful,” Ms. Menard concluded.

Past officers’ medals and bars were presented to President Ruth Eadie (2nd V.P.’s bar); Paul Abbot (Service Officer’s Bar); Dianne Musgrove (past officer medal and chaplain’s bar); Norris Valiquette (past officer medal and executive committee bar); Catherine Morrison (past officer’s medal and secretary bar); and Gord Keatley (past officer’s medal and treasurer’s bar).

Ms. Menard presided over the recognition of five individuals who received Certificate of Appreciation. These include Ted Bemister, Casson Eadie, Tammy Bryan-Walsh, McDougall Energy and Nathan Shawanda.

Certificate of Merit were presented to John Chapman, Brian Morrison, Leslie Moore-Burnett and Lucy Sagle.

Service Pins recognition years of membership in Branch 177 concluded the evening with Judy Miller, membership chair, presenting the pins.

There are three categories of Legion membership: Ordinary, Associate and Affiliate and pins were presented to members of each group in order.

Recognition of longest service that evening went to Associate Member John Hodder who has been a branch member for 45 years. Mr. Hodder took the microphone briefly and told the crowd how he had enjoyed helping the branch when called upon.

In the Ordinary Members category (those who have had military service) pins were presented to Keith Wellstead (30 years), Roy Eaton (25 years), Tim Nevills (20 years), Carmen Laidley (10 years), John T. McMurray (5 years) and Fred Nesbitt (5 years).

In the Associate Member Category, those who were recognized are John Hodder (45 years), Bob McDonald (40 years), Mike Cooper (35 years), Terrance Hari (35 years), Ken Rowe (35 years), Charles Adam (30 years), J.W. Ferguson (30 years), Joanne Thurston (25 years), Robert McCallum (20 years), Norris Nevills (20 years), Connie Donaldson (10 years), Larry Smith (10 years), Jim McBane (5 years), Aline Stephens (5 years), John Stephens (5 years) and Philip Stephens (5 years).

Affiliate Members recognized include Godfrey Lovelace (20 years), Jack Omnet (20 years), Steve Crites (10 years), Marlene Mallette (10 years) and Morris Keller (five years).

There was recognition of one Affiliate Non-Voting member: US citizen Harley Warner who received a Legion pin in absentia with the Legion logo flanked by Canadian and U.S. flags.

A special ceremony was part of this annual honours’ ceremony: the initiation of three new members: Robin Maltby and Jeff Schachinger are now Affiliate Members and Lucy Sagle is an Associate Member.

The evening closed with a prayer led by Chaplain Allard and then a social time complete with snacks.

As an indication of the dedication of Cathy Morrison that led to her being named this year’s Legionnaire of the Year, when Ms. Menard called the names of those who were to be initiated, Ms. Morrison realized that Mr. Schachinger was at that time tending bar downstairs. “I’ll get him up here and I’ll fill in at the bar,” she quickly offered, disappearing downstairs and just as quickly the bartender and prospective new member appeared to become formally and publicly became a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #177.