Gery Lemon Achieves New Milestone

Written by Harold McNeill on April 2nd, 2013. Posted in Biographies

Portrait of Gery Lemon and Graham Hill taken by long time family friend Rebecca Kirstein. This note by Gery: “Rebecca is like a daughter. She is a very accomplished photographer and over the years shot our wedding, Kelsey’s wedding – all kinds of family gatherings and reunions. This picture was presented in preparation for Graham’s campaign in 2011 – for his fourth term as mayor. It’s in front of the rock wall across from the Four Mile – beautiful work of public art. The shot was to go on his brochure and website …..I think we look in love.”

Saturday, April 6, 09:30, Dear Reader:  The original story was somehow deleated last Monday when work was being completed on a server transfer. The new story is posted below. If you note any errors in names, please email me a note at


A recent story about Gery and Graham may be linked here: Graham and Harold’s Christmas Adventure

Gery Lemon Achieves another Milestone

It was a surprise birthday celebration at the Four Mile Restaurant for our good friend Gery, but before the party could even begin, staff had a difficult time deterring Gery from laying claim to her favourite corner table in the main dining room. Those who know her well understand she is not a woman easily deterred and particularly so on HER special day.

Not knowing anything particular was going one, it took some considerable cajoling from her loving husband Graham (“come on honey, let’s just go to the other room”) and daughter Kelsey (“mom, we can’t have the table, it’s reserved”) until Gery finally deferred to her loved ones.

After being tucked safely in the Tea Room, Gery was utterly unprepared for what happened next. Hiding behind menus, were several family members who had been quietly spirited into Victoria earlier in the day. It made for a wonderful surprise, but that was just the beginning.

In the dining room, the second wave of family and friends were topping up their drinks as they prepared for the next surprise.  As dinner was winding down and with the ambush lying in wait, the Maître de told Gery her ‘favourite’ table had just become available and wondered if the birthday girl might wish to retire there for coffee and dessert. It was a perfect way to complete dinner and Gery gleefully (the little girl still present) agreed. She jumped up and dragged her crew to the other room.

With her two year old Grandson in arm, Gery came marching in proud as punch and totally unaware. Then suddenly “bang”. The familiar faces of other family and friends began to appear, The first words to escape the lady of words was a knee slapping: “I’m Gobsmacked.” The second surprise had been flawlessly executed.

For two hours the tributes flowed to Gery from family and friends who had become the glue of her life over the years that now numbered three score. There was much laughter at the delicious episodes that defined the adolescent and tears when family and friends shared their stories of deep love

Following are a few snippets from the passing decades:

Girl Fight: Grade 7. Gery and Tara were the best of friends but competitive to the nth degree.  Scheduled to take part in an upcoming talent show, a disagreement ensued as to who would play the piano. Of course, there was no better way to settle that argument than a good, knock down, hair-pulling, girl fight. Of course, Gery knew Tara was the better piano player, but that was not the point – Gery wanted the part. As far as a Tara could recall, Gery played, but ‘honestly’ could not remember who had won the fight. We are left to wonder?

Centre Fold: Grade 11. (photo right) Band trip to Ucluelet…Gery was caught in her baby dolls while posing with a centre fold that she felt quite captured her self image. Gery, of course, has a very strong self image. No wonder Graham was very attracted to that centre fold so many years later.

From Liver to Friendship:  College Years, Malaspina … how to win a lifelong friend? Cook them up a batch of liver simmered in vinegar. There was no way Jayne could believe she actually ended being the friend and roommate of that 19 year old, vivacious, blonde whose fun loving spirit and raucous ‘honk’ was the stuff of legend. That, along with red Corvettes and pot smoke filled Datsun made for some memorable upper Island trips….

Serious:  Always think of 60 as the ‘freedom gateway’ – it’s a time you really feel free of any prior constraints, you can look and feel young (and you do that better than most) and you can still claim all the age excuses for the things you don’t want to do, don’t remember, or don’t want to think about… (Maureen)

Mom: (Courtney) — didn’t laugh at me when at 12 years old I curled my hair; planned a secret trip to Disneyland; held my hand on my first day of school; would always have Princess Band-Aids to help heal a booboo; I love you so much and though I’m not there, don’t fret! I promise, on your 90th, we’ll share a whiskey and cigarette! (Courtney)

Mom:  (Kelsey): Near tears when she spoke so lovingly to her mother – about the many times she was there ‘helping to keep her and her friend Rebecca from straying too far off the path, supporting her in every new adventure and being there when the going was tough.  Come to think of it, there were more than a few tears being shed…

The Lady who stole my Dads Heart:  (Three of the ten verses sent by Trish):

We met while I was still a teen
In View Royal where Dad was ‘between’
Different stages of life came together
And there you appeared at the seams

Your free spirit is what I love best
Fun evenings with wine and no rest
Witty and smart, right from the start
You’re the perfect mate for any “fest”

My heart has a spot just for you
Steve, Aidan and Emmy share it too
You are our dear Dubby
We love you so much
Let’s have a toast before we bid adieu…  (the toast followed)

Husband: Graham spoke so eloquently it is hard to capture the emotions his words carried to Gery and those gathered. Gery had wished she had had a tape recording so she could again listen to that heart felt tribute Graham shared with her.

Only a man with a great understanding of feelings could begin by talking about how one could tell the nature of a man by the dog in his yard, then transform the words in into a glowing tribute to his step-daughters as “accomplished, loving, funny and oh, so smart. Kelsey making a difference internationally; Courtney so far away and yet so connected – both raising families that are beautiful, bright and wholesome.

Then he spoke of the challenge of a man living with a strong woman – that strong women can sometimes diminish their men. Graham never found that to be the case with Gery, a woman of great strength who Graham truly believed strengthened him in every way; better, happier and more full because of the strengths they shared – a love of life and the joy of living together.  Gery said in an email: “You know – he really loves me…”

(My goodness Graham, you have set the bar so very high for the rest of us)

Who is that Man with my Daughter? (Harold, a side story): I had the great pleasure of meeting Kelsey occasionally while in Ottawa and Toronto. These meetings occured while doing joint promotions between SOS Children’s Villages, FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association as we prepared for the 2007 U20 Men’s World Cup.  As the meetings were hectic, the subject of our families did not come up, so I knew of no connections between Kelsey and her family.

After one of the promotional events, I emailed pictures to my wife who was at that time working at the BC Pension Corporation. While looking at the pictures, Lynn’s boss came by and noticed her daughter beside me. Lynn’s boss – none other than Gery Lemon. It is indeed a small world.

Tomorrow and the Next Day: After an amazing Saturday evening, at 4:00 am the next morning, Gery and Graham dropped Kelsey and her son at the airport for a return flight to Ottawa so the two could spend the rest of the Easter weekend at home.

Then early Tuesday Gery was off to New South Wales, Australia to visit with Courtney who moved there last year with her husband and two daughters.

It is hard to put into words the amazing feelings of love and sharing that took place when family and friends gathered to celebrate a milestone in the life of an individual who has given so much of herself to her family, friends and community.

Happy Birthday Gery

Your friends

Harold and Lynn

More photos of the Birthday Party are posted on the
McNeill Life Stories Photos
Facebook Page: Link Here


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  • Harold McNeill

    July 25, 2021 |

    Glad you enjoyed Craig. It was fun researching and writing that particular post. It seems I was in school many years before you, the 1950s to be more precise. Cheers, Harold

  • Craig Patterson

    July 18, 2021 |

    Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in Cold Lake (former town of Grand Centre) and we’d heard many stories over the years. Today I was talking to my Mom about the Kinosoo and I came to this article when I was searching images of the fish — I recall when I was in school in the 80s where was a photo supposedly taken (I think it’s the one of the ice fisherman above).

  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.