Brown “Biff” McLellan Balcom
March 3, 1925 – October 20, 2015
Biff grew up on the Noel Shore on the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia with his maternal grandparents, his uncle Silas, his mother Charlotte Balcom and his two older sisters Mary and Madge Balcom. From all the stories that we were told, his childhood was filled with working in the woods, playing tricks on others, acting out in school, dances where Hank Snow, Charlie Chamberlain, Marg Osburne, Don Messer and other Maritime bands would perform in the local halls. Biff enlisted in the Air Force in 1943 and took training in Lachine, Quebec, Brandon, Manitoba and in bases across the Maritimes. He was stationed at Sea Island, British Columbia. It was here that he met Geneva Uttley and almost 68 years ago they were married. Nora was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, John in Rivers, Manitoba, Susan in Whitehorse, Yukon. Dad’s last station was St. Hubert, Quebec….we came from there to Big Valley, Alberta, where our mother Geneva had been born and raised and had inherited a house….and it was in Stettler, Alberta where Vernon was born. Our family was now complete.
In the Air Force, Dad was a heavy duty mechanic, so he used his skills working for Gordon Connor at the McAlister Garage and later for Cliff Romane at the present White Owl. At Cliff’s they also sold International farm machinery and trucks to the farmers and ranchers in the area. By a twist of fate….one day when he was working on a vehicle, someone came along for gas, they recognized each other; the traveler had been Biff’s boss in Rivers, Manitoba, who was now in charge of the Department of Highways in Alberta; he offered Dad a job in Calgary. Dad accepted and through the week he boarded in Calgary with Kay and Charlie Klaus (they had also ran a garage in Big Valley) and in 1969 Dad transferred to Hanna.
Dad inherited his childhood home and woodlot in Noel, Nova Scotia, so when he could retire he did and Biff, Geneva and Vernon moved….they spent 15 years there, cutting in the woods and selling to Scott Paper Towels, raising sheep, a couple goats, barn cats and haying for feed. They had a lot of nice neighbours and were sorry to go, but the grandchildren were all here, so west they came in 1995 to the Valley Villa.
Dad was always busy, feeding the cats at the Red Barn and on occasion calves, looking after the graveyard (he had a real passion to fix up graves that had no family members), working on vehicles….coffee time was a very important time too….and I think it is the coffee times where he got to know so many….he still liked to trick people and he liked to write. He published two books and wrote weekly for the Big Valley Whistle, which has a following of many, many people.
We love you Dad.
Biff leaves to mourn his wife of 67 years Geneva; children: Nora (Allan) Saar, John Balcom, Susan (Bruce) Hansen and Vernon (Michelle) Balcom; seven grandchildren: Rhonda (Rob) Gibson, Shannon (Berri) Shirley, Christopher Balcom, Matthew (Kat Doll) Hansen, Aaron (Olivia) Hansen, Shaun (Cheyenne LeGrande) Hansen and William Balcom; seven great grandchildren: Robyn, Rachel, Andrew, Adam, Ryan, Reid and Mabel; sister Mary Balcom of Nova Scotia; special family friends, Kelly (Robyn) Armstrong and their children Jessie and Jake, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of many wonderful friends.
A funeral service for the late Brown “Biff” McLellan Balcom was held on Saturday, November 7, 2015 in the Big Valley Jubilee Hall, Big Valley, Alberta with Reverend Barbara Lieurance officiating. Loving tributes were given by son in law Bruce Hansen presenting the family tribute and chosen granddaughter Robyn Armstrong sharing her gift of music and vocals with “Go Rest High On That Mountain,” granddaughter Shannon Shirley lovingly produced a photo tribute accompanied by special musical selections. The Royal Canadian Legion Branch #70 paid tribute to their comrade with the Last Post service. Granddaughter Shannon Shirley served as pallbearer as Biff was laid to rest in the Big Valley Cemetery. Following the interment service a time of sharing memories and a luncheon prepared and served by Catrina’s Catering was held in the hall.
Donations in memory of Biff are gratefully accepted to the Big Valley Fire Department c/o STETTLER FUNERAL HOME & CREMATORIUM,
Box 1780, Stettler, Alberta T0C 2L0, who were entrusted with the care and funeral arrangements. To send or view condolences to the family, please visit www.stettlerfuneralhome.com