Golley, Robert Gordon, (1923 – 2009) was the son of late
William Warwick Golley and Margaret Ellen Golley (nee McLeod). Gordon understood that life is a journey, ‘generally as a rule.’ He also realized the journey might best be done by rail, and he was determined to be the one at the hog’s throttle for the mountain run. Born with the fortunes of geography in pastoral Salmon Arm, BC he spent much of his youth watching the steam locomotives roll by. They must have fully fired his imagination since he was quick to sign on with Canadian Pacific in Revelstoke. Gordon was briefly side-tracked when the country was caught up in war and by 1941 he put aside the idyllic Shuswap life for the patriotic, and many will say ‘adventurous’ call of WW2. He was off to Europe, driving supply trucks and packing a sten gun over his shoulder for good measure. In 1945 good fortune brought him back to Revelstoke in sound health – with lingering respect and recognition for comrades not so fortunate. At that point in life Gordon became a committed member, (life-long member and executive) of the Royal Canadian Legion. Maturing quickly, the young veteran set his sights on getting back to the serious business of running ‘Mikes’ at first; then the big diesel electrics over the snowy passes of the Selkirks and Monashees – first as a wiper, then fireman, then engineer. Nevertheless Gordon found time to acquaint himself with a favorite young local seamstress named Olga Flug. She became the railroad’s fiercest competitor for Gordon’s attentions. They married and stayed in Revelstoke. The railroad was probably indignant about the distraction of such a focused employee! Olga was definitely up to this challenge as they found time beyond the intensity of his steam-railroading to produce young Bill (future Coquihalla snow-puncher) and then younger Trudy (a future University Ceramic Arts Professor) who remained their parents’ joy in their respective lives and careers.
The Columbia River Valley continued as the Revelstoke couple’s home through the late 70s & 80s. Gordon kept on pushing those freights and coal trains over the passes with the big new electric diesels. Through the falling snows he saw the early passing of his two brothers (Edgar & Joe) and recently his sister (Kay Collier.) Gordon was always an easy-going man, so much so that his kids used to joke that he was “the most casual man in captivity”. He filled his off-shift days chatting with friends at every opportunity, continuing support for the Legion and broadening his passion for angling but continued to enjoy hogging it over Rogers Pass and Eagle Pass. Olga and Gordon remained in Revelstoke after his deserved retirement from CPR in 1989. Then he really discovered the pleasures of fishing!
Folks in Revelstoke may still gripe about the snow but it is a bit like alligator tears— for it is in their blood. Nevertheless by 1990 the snow got a bit too deep in Revelstoke. Gordon and Olga relocated to Armstrong for some of the legendary ‘relaxed Okanagan life.’ This continued many years but the absence of snow and train sounds possibly became too self-depriving for Gordon and his health. They chose to move to Prince George in 2007 – with the benefit of being near to son Bill, without being much further from daughter Trudy in Red Deer.
Winter snows along the mountain passes of interior BC fall silently, pile quickly and lie deep. Gordon similarly had a wonderful and comfortable 2008 Christmas in Prince George and was close to family. On a wintry January morning the last train quietly carried Gordon on his final run over the big snowy passes.
Gordon is survived by his wife Olga, daughter Trudy (Paul) and son Bill (Michelle). He will be deeply missed.
Following cremation the family will hold a private memorial. In lieu of flowers the family suggests recognizing your local Hospital Foundation.