Al Goodwin, known as “The Chief” during his long naval career, died of heart failure at Dartmouth General Hospital on February 28, 2022. He was 91 years young. Many of us thought he would live forever, a larger-than-life swashbuckling pirate who lived life to the fullest and on his own terms.
He was born September 23, 1930 to Austin and Phoebe (MacWilliam) Goodwin in Sackville, NB just as the Great Depression was digging in. He grew up along with his younger sister and brother on the small family farm in nearby Woodpoint, NB. Kids needed to grow up fast in those straightened times and young Alan contributed to the family’s income by working on the farm and fishing for shad on the Bay of Fundy in all kinds of weather. His tough childhood shaped his character early and he developed a strong work ethic, resilience, and a deep love of both horses and life on the water. It was no accident that he became a career Navy Man for 33 years and then sailed through a 38-year retirement as “Captain Al”.
Al is survived by his children Susan (Ron Sturk), Rod (Mary Lou), Tom, Stephen (Brenda) and Gary. “Grampins” was much loved by his grandchildren Jeff (Regan), Scott (Katie), Caroline (Greg), Laura (Chithra), Sarah (Michael) and Christopher, and his great-grandchildren Tristen, Riley, Logan, Aiden (and their mother Krista Meade), Reese, Ella, Jonah, Margot and Vincent. He is also survived by his sister Joan McCurdy, sister-in-law Irma, special nieces Nancy Stanbrook, Pam Hicks and Sandra Morash, and his closest cousin Tom MacWilliam. He was predeceased by his wife Kay (Kathryn Wry), daughter Karen, nephew Peter, and brother Charlie - his lifelong best friend/partner in crime.
Good looking, charismatic and outgoing, “The Chief” made lots of friends wherever he went. A very special mention and thanks go to Angus and Sharon Emberley, Jim Guilford, Len Elvidge, Ron Leppard, JC Pelletier and Bill Pitul for their long-time friendship and support. Thanks also to the extended Wry Family from the Sackville NB area. Al always enjoyed keeping in touch with his in-laws and being part of their family gatherings and celebrations.
Alan joined the Canadian Navy in 1950 as a ship’s radio operator and was one of the last surviving ‘Sparkers’, experts in Morse Code. In his long career he served on many ships including the famous Haida, Canada’s most decorated ship in WWII. His favourite posting was as Coxswain on The Athabaskan - a tough, demanding role that he relished. He was often away at sea for months, although his legendary exploits abroad weren’t necessarily family fare (ahem).
Even in his spare time, Al could do just about anything. Technically adept but largely self-taught (before YouTube!), he became a television repairman and ran a part-time business with his close friend Lou (Lynwood) Webber. His kids were thrilled - a TV in every room! A frugal man, he could fix just about every car, appliance or piece of machinery known to humankind. This made him enormously popular with friends, neighbours and family alike. He may have grumbled, but he did enjoy his position as Top Man in The Handyman Hall of Fame. He prided himself on doing a great job, never giving up until it was done to his high standards, even if it was a free pen he was fixing. An early adopter of recycling, his curbside finds made him ‘green’ well before it was fashionable. He acquired an impressive arsenal of tools and equipment to support his Big 3 hobbies: Ham Radio Operator (VE1AJX), Sailing on the Sandsong and Whitt’s End as a valued member of the Shearwater Yacht Club (“let’s all remember, there can only be ONE Captain”) and RE (Repairing Everything). He seldom sat still, even continuing into his ‘90’s to cut up pallets (recycled, of course) to fuel his wood stove.
If there is one quote to sum up Alan Goodwin’s approach to life it would be this:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming WOW, WHAT A @*%&# RIDE!” (credit to Hunter S Thompson).
Mission accomplished Chief. We salute you. Over and out VE1AJX.
A Celebration of Life Reception will be held in at the Atlantic Funeral Home, 771 Main Street, Dartmouth on May 10, 2022 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. The Legion Tribute (Poppy Service) will commence at 2:30pm. Family, friends, and sailing buddies are invited gather and lift a glass to The Chief’s safe voyage. A private interment in Dartmouth Memorial Gardens will be held at a later date.