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To view the Celebration of Life for Donald, please click the link below.
Peacefully, on Saturday, February 3rd, 2024, Donald George McGill of Belmont, MB passed away at the Baldur Transitional Unit at the age of 80.
Donald was born on October 27, 1943, the second child of Herb and Florence McGill. He was a little brother for Helen and later a big brother to Keith. He grew up on the farm surrounded by siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. He told many stories about the horses the family had over the years and I think he was a bit jealous that KO, the horse who needed a pail of milk to be caught, was Helen’s horse, and not his. He told and retold the story of Thunder coming from his Uncle Stan’s in the fall, needing to be walked the last few miles because he was played right out and how he had “toughened” him up over the winter and remarked “there wasn’t a wet hair on him” on the ride back to Killarney in the spring. Many times, he would recount the story of his dad leaning over the half door of the barn “waiting for the rodeo” as he brought Skipper out for his first ride. He always thought his dad was a bit disappointed when things ended up going more smoothly than anticipated.
He fondly recounted tales of country fairs and his time at Huntley, Neelin and Belmont Schools. He played hardball throughout his younger years and he enjoyed telling many stories to both Brynne and Mitchell once they started playing ball. He loved that Brynne was a catcher, just as he had been. He enjoyed when Mitchell visited and there was a ball game on and they could critique and discuss the game.
As a young man, Donald would be called upon to help with a friend’s or neighbours chores if needed and could still recall the name of every chore team! Donald worked for 2 winters in Brandon before returning home to farm full time. He also drove a truck for a time, hauling cattle to the livestock yards in Winnipeg. In later years, he would remark that he didn’t know how he had done that because he was now terrified to drive in Winnipeg and there was always a joke that his hands would start to sweat when he hit the perimeter.
He married Faye McCutchin on July 26, 1969 and they started married life in the big brick house on “Pete’s”. During this time, Cheryl and Kerry were born. The house came equipped with pigs in the porch, bats in the bathtub and snakes in the sofa and the best tasting well water around. The family of 4 moved to the Morris Durham farm in 1975. Faye and Donald enjoyed attending many dances, bonspiels and ball tournaments with friends and neighbours during this time. The family moved to the home farm in 1990 and remained there until 1999, when Faye’s health began to fail. Donald cared for Faye in their new home in Belcrest Manor until her passing. During his 20 plus years of now calling town “home”, he enjoyed helping Vern Campbell with harvest and tending to the Manor garden. He shared the produce proudly with anyone who craved fresh vegetables. When his mobility became limited, he planted tomatoes and cucumbers out his door so he could enjoy them.
Donald enjoyed visiting with everyone at morning coffee and looked forward to hearing the farm report from Merle. Jennifer would check in with him daily and be sure he was doing all right. “Little Leslie”, as Donald called her, would also pop her head in to see if he was ok. Melody would come and do his cleaning and he loved her company more than the fact that she was keeping his suite in order. He loved when Brynne and Mitchell would call from wherever they were to have a chat with grandpa. The look on his face when he FaceTimed Brynne from New York City was amazing! He loved their visits and travelled to watch them play ball, hockey or participate in gymnastics. He loved them both dearly.
He mourned the loss of Faye in 2010 and of Kerry in 2014 and of his dear mother-in-law, Darlene, in 2019. In May of 2023, Donald contracted Covid and was given a devastating prognosis. He was transferred from Killarney Hospital to the Baldur Palliative Care bed. Throughout his time in Baldur, he regained some of his health and was transferred to the Transitional Unit to await placement in the PCH. The last months of his life were full of conversation and jokes with the staff and they never let on they heard the same stories over and over! When asked how he was, his response would always be,”Just what you see.” He enjoyed going down to the PCH for the entertainment and his toes and hands would tap along to the music.
He was able to celebrate his 80th birthday in October and proudly showed off the many birthday certificates that kept arriving in the mail. The entire staff at Baldur is to be commended for their care and compassion and for always making sure he had his Cinnamon Toast Crunch and coffee for breakfast, each with 3 sugars. He said in November that he thought he finally had the staff trained in that department. Thank you for giving Donald “bonus” time and making the last few months of his life so wonderful.
Donald was an old farmer through and through. He loved his family and was a true keeper of the past. The worn pages of his many history books bulging with newspaper clippings and the boxes of pictures, are a testament to his determination and desire to preserve and cherish the past. Although the twinkle in his bright blue eyes is gone, his love and legacy will live on through the stories he told and the love he shared.
Donald is survived by his daughter Cheryl Battersby and husband Brent of Brandon, grandchildren Brynne and Mitchell of Brandon, sister Helen Heaman and husband Keith of Carman, brother Keith McGill and wife Carol of Killarney, brother in law Dennis McCutchin and wife Marie of Brandon, and sister in law Barbara Raison of Winnipeg. He also leaves nieces and nephews, as well and many extended relatives and friends. Donald was predeceased by his parents Herbert and Florence McGill, parents in law Earl and Darlene McCutchin, brothers in law Rodie Raison and Marvin McCutchin and niece Tracy Heaman.
Funeral services were held on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at 11 am in the Belmont Community Hall with Sharon Hamilton officiating. Interment followed in the Hillside Cemetery at Belmont.
Friends that so desire, memorial donations can be made in Don’s memory to the Baldur Palliative Care Unit, Box 128, Baldur, MB, R0K 0B0 or to the Belmont Museum, c/o Jessie Myers, Box 92, Belmont, MB, R0K 0C0.