Norm Clarkson (Ret’d)
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Norm Clarkson passed away peacefully at age 90 with his family by his side in Victoria, B.C.
Few lived a life as fully as Norm. He proudly served his country in the Royal Canadian Navy for over 25 years. Upon enlisting at age 18, Norm served overseas on the HMCS Athabaskan during the Korean War as a Signalman. Throughout his naval career Norm served with both the Canadian Fleet Pacific and Canadian Fleet Atlantic on a number ships including as the commissioning crew for the HMCS Skeena as well as on the HMCS Ontario, HMCS Beacon Hill, HMCS Oshawa, HMCS Digby, HMCS Fortune, HMCS New Glasgow and HMCS Saskatchewan.
Norm rose throughout the ranks and retired in 1976 at the rank of Master Warrant Officer as the Chief Yoman of Signals. He retired at a time when the Canadian Military had briefly implemented a unified command structure. For an old sailor, having to exchange the Navy rank of Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class for an “Army rank” and give up his whites for a green uniform long remained a bone of contention. After the Navy, Norm launched a second career as a property manager with Brown Brothers. He briefly retired again before returning back to Brown Brothers until he retired for the last time in 1996.
Norm was lucky in love twice. Norm and Una were married for 34 years and they proudly raised two sons, Brad and Brent, in Victoria, B.C. After Una passed away, Norm found love again when he met Karen. They were married for nearly 29 years and settled in Mill Bay, B.C. Norm and Karen spent their retirement traveling across Europe and RVing throughout North America; trips that Norm would later recount by where he had the best seafood chowder or wings. Later they bought their summer place in Parksville, B.C. and loved their days by ocean where they made life-long friends.
Throughout Norm’s life he was surrounded by a family and a vast group of friends who he deeply loved and they loved him. When Norm and Karen married, he quickly embraced her children as his own and their blended family continued to grow to include six grandchildren and many four-legged companions. He was enormously proud of his children and their spouses, Brad and Kathleen Clarkson – affectionately nicknamed DIL for daughter-in-law (Beaverton, Oregon); Scott Knutsen (Port Moody, B.C.) and Tracy and Paul Chisholm (Toronto, O.N.). The lights of his life were his grandchildren – Thomas and Allison Clarkson; Rhys and Annika Chisholm; and Chase and MacKenzie Knutsen– and they adored him. Affectionately known as Normie or Grandpa Norm, he was the story-time cuddler, marshmallow roasting aficionado, an expert resource for many history papers, and most importantly, an inspiration.
No one could tell a story as great as Norm. He could captivate children of any age for hours as he shared tales of his time in Navy or growing up in White Rock, BC. An avid hockey fan who could be heard cheering every Saturday night during the season, perhaps his only disappointment in life was not seeing the Vancouver Canucks win the cup.
There is no question that our lives are better because we had Norm and he will be missed. He has asked to be returned back to the sea and a celebration of life will be held at a later date to fulfill this wish. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a charity of your choice or to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. We ask that the next time you are by the ocean, take a moment to raise a glass in his honour and toast his legacy.
Condolences may be offered to the family below.