Love at first bite for PRH donor

George Garland has made a major donation to Penticton Regional Hospital in memory of his wife Marie who passed away in 2018.

George Garland was smitten with his future wife Marie almost from the moment he met her at an Edmonton diner more than 66 years ago.

Now George has donated $100,000 for medical equipment at Penticton Regional Hospital in her memory. Marie passed away in 2018.

George was working as a heavy equipment operator in Edmonton in the early 1950s and often had dinner at the same café where Marie worked as a waitress.

”I was ‘batching’ and used to eat there nearly every night,” he recalled. “You know how young guys are – always looking for a good looking girl.  Our first date went well and we hit it off.”

An ice cream parlour was located near the local movie theatre. George found it to be an ideal spot to impress his date with a banana split. They got married in December 1953.

Marie was raised in an Edmonton convent and had no idea who her parents were.  A fire in the convent destroyed all their birth records, so it wasn’t until years later that Marie discovered she had a younger sister.

“I guess she (Marie’s sister) had been adopted out as a baby but all the records were gone because of the fire in the convent.”

George was born in 1928 in North Battleford, Sask. where his parents owned a grain farm. It was a big family – he had eight brothers and sisters.

A niece who researched the Garland family tree discovered that George’s father moved out to Alberta from Manitoba on an oxcart in the late 1890s. It also appears his grandfather was wanted for stealing horses in Montana. His mother’s parents had emigrated from Germany to Russia, then to the U.S., and finally to Canada.

The family moved to Creston, BC when George was 12.  After Grade 10, he went to Vancouver where he started work as a truck driver and became a heavy equipment operator at construction camps around the province and elsewhere.

He later became a master mechanic with Emil Andersen Construction and worked at various dam and tunnel projects in Canada and the U.S.  He was promoted as the company’s equipment manager in 1971 and maintained that role until his retirement 20 years later.

George’s parents had previously retired to Penticton and one of his sisters lived in the city as well.  So the couple moved to Penticton in 1991 and were among the first homeowners at the Sandbridge development on South Main Street.

Marie’s health eventually started to decline and she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and other health issues.

“Marie spent quite a bit of time in the hospital.  At one point the doctor took me to the chapel and said he didn’t think she would make it, but she pulled through,” he said.

In her later years, Marie also suffered from Alzheimer’s.  She passed away at a care centre in Summerland in September 2018.

George Garland’s donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation comes as construction is well underway on Phase 2 of the PRH expansion, including a major upgrade to the Emergency Department scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2021.