George Ellaway Penniket passed away October 31, 2010, in Lethbridge, Alberta, at the age of 89 years. George was born on February 8th, 1921, in Frankton Junction (Hamilton), New Zealand. He was the second son of James and Laura Penniket and grew up on the family dairy farm at Rukahia. George followed his love of flying by joining the New Zealand Air Service in WW II. He came to Canada in 1943 under the Commonwealth Training Plan, received his commission as Pilot Officer in Calgary, and was sent to Fort Macleod as a flying instructor.
While on leave to Nelson, B.C., George met Dawn Sharp and they were married on August 23, 1944; in November George was posted to England. Here he trained in Hurricane Fighters for low-level daytime raids; however, George did not see combat duty because V.E. day came before he completed his tactical training. He was discharged from the Royal New Zealand Air Force with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
George and his young family spent several months in New Zealand after the war, but returned to Canada. He soon found employment with West Kootenay Power and lived in South Slocan and later, Bonnington Falls. George and Dawn moved to Nelson in 1967. When he retired in July, 1980, George had completed 33 years of service with W. K. P.
George was always an active member of his community, volunteering his time with Boy Scouts, the Kootenay Lake Hospital Board, the Nelson Gyro Club, Fairview United Church Council, Air Cadets and the Kiwanis Club. His love of singing was met through his time spent with the Barbershop Quartet and Fairview Church Choir. Following his passion for flying, George regained his pilot’s license along with continuing to design and fly countless model planes. He was an eager self-taught naturalist, instilling in all three of his children a love for the outdoors whether it was hiking, gardening or photography. George considered it an honour to be a Canadian citizen and be able to live in the pristine West Kootenay area.
Due to declining health, George and Dawn moved to Lethbridge, AB., in 2005, where they could be closer to family. George was predeceased by his two brothers (Bob and Roddy, both of New Zealand) and later by Dawn in February, 2009.
He is survived by his three children and their families: eldest daughter, Penny Hanic (Jennifer and Jonathon), son Roy Penniket and his wife, Lynne (Erin, Carolyn and Colin) and daughter Sheila King and her husband, Des (Linnden, Davis and Lorne). George is also survived by his six great-grand children of whom he was very proud.
George’s family would like to extend heartfelt thanks to Home Health (Nelson), and Dr. Tim Collins, Columbia Assisted Living and Adaptacare (Lethbridge) for the wonderful compassion and care given to George during his later years.
The old pilot made his final take off to a happier place.
A family gathering was held in Lethbridge following his passing and a Memorial Service for George and Dawn Penniket will be held in Nelson in the summer of 2011. Details will be announced at a later date.