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St. George native earned accolades in Yukon

ST. STEPHEN - Joseph and Bette Goodeill jumped at the chance to return to Whitehorse in 1969 after a year in Borden, Ont.

"The Yukon offered them a chance to settle and establish roots and get involved in community," their son, Jerry Goodeill of Shanty Bay, Ont., said in an interview following his father's death on Aug. 15 at the age of 91.

Joseph Goodeill, a native of St. George, grew up in St. Andrews where he graduated from Prince Arthur High School. He went where his air force career took him from the day in 1939 when he got the news that he was accepted.

In his remaining 40 years he earned the title "Mr. Legion" in the Whitehorse, along with induction into the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame as a coach and umpire in softball.

"The legion became his passion," Jerry Goodeill said, referring to his father's nearly 40 years of service to in the Royal Canadian Legion.

Joseph Goodeill served 12 terms as president of the Whitehorse branch. The Legion awarded him a lifetime membership in 1978, and the Meritorious Service Award in 1989. Last month the legion presented Goodeill the Palm Leaf, its highest award.

"Softball was a passion of his, too, when he was in the armed services," Jerry Goodeill said.

He coached the air force team in Whitehorse, then began filling in when the league needed an umpire.

His United Empire Loyalist ancestors came to Pennfield following the American Revolution.

In his early 20s at the start of the Second World War in 1939, Goodeill and Sandy Miller hitchhiked to Moncton to join the armed services.

Goodeill nearly ended up in the army but, when he got back to St. Andrews, he discovered that the Royal Canadian Air Force had already accepted the application he filed earlier. He became a drill instructor and served on ships taking troops across the Atlantic Ocean.

He and his future wife Bette, from St. Thomas, Ont., met in Toronto where she worked as an RCAF telephone operator.

They were married for 53 years until her death in 2000. Their first child Judy was born in 1948. Jerry followed in 1950, Janice in 1954. Bette Goodeill worked as a telephone operator at different bases where the air force sent Joseph.

The air force stationed Goodeill in France from 1956 to 1959.

Goodeill's jobs in the air force included drill instructor and physical education teacher. The air force sent Goodeill to a three-year posting in Whitehorse as station warrant officer in charge of housing in 1962. He kept asking for one-year extensions, which allowed him to stay until the air force closed the Whitehorse station in 1968.

With a year left to serve, the air force sent Goodeill to Borden, Ont..

When he was about 75, Joseph Goodeill took three of his grandchildren aged 14, 10 and eight on a cross-Canada trek in a recreational vehicle from Whitehorse to St. Andrews.

"He was pretty tough, he made us accountable for our decisions," Jerry Goodeill said. "There was no dodging that you made a mistake.-He was tough, he was demanding, but he was fair."

SOURCE: New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, NB) - September 15, 2009.

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