In Celebration of
Alvin (Al) Tweten
January 4, 1944 -
October 20, 2017
The family announces with sorrow the death of Al Tweten of Toronto on October 20, 2017 as a result of cancer. Predeceased by his father, Marlowe Tweten in 1985, his brother Roger in July 2012, three brothers and one sister in infancy.
He is survived by his mother Jeanne Tweten of Regina; three brothers, Philip (Tyma), Ralph (Richael) both of Calgary, Reg (Ruth) of Regina, four sisters Janet (Doug) Craig of Regina, Mary Ann Sikora (Kel) of Surrey, BC., Karen (Arnold) Dobroskay of Saskatoon, Christina (Les) Morgan of Georgia, USA, sister in law Carol Tweten and many nephews, nieces and cousins, and his many friends around the world.
Friends may call at the Turner & Porter “Yorke Chapel” 2357 Bloor Street West (at Windermere) on Thursday from 2-4 & 6-8 p.m. Funeral Service will be held on Friday, October 27th at 9:30 a.m. in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Cremation to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Al to the Toronto Humane Society or the Princess Alexandra Bursary of the Queens Own Rifles would be appreciated.
Al had a sense of wanderlust. He was born in Fleet Hants, England. Mother recalls that as a lively active two year old he loved to watch the English trains. One day the neighbour lady stopped him and asked him if he was going to watch the “choo-choo’s.” With a quizzical look on his face, Al replied “Oh no, I am going to watch the trains.” The neighbour lady replied, “ I guess I stand corrected.” Al’s reply, “Yes mam.”
Al travelled with his mother by ship on the Queen Mary to Halifax at the tender age of two. From there they took a train to Regina where the family settled in 1946. Perhaps all this travelling at an early age instilled a desire to explore the world. And when Al got older, explore the world he did!
Life was not easy in the post war years. As a young boy Al was responsible for many household chores. He assisted his dad when chopping wood, hauled water from the local standpipe in his wagon and looked after his younger brothers and sisters. Can you picture our Al doing all that physical work and getting his trousers, shirt and hands dirty! I think not!! But he did!
During his formative years Al had several close friends. They grew up together, went to school together, worked on cars, played music and got into a little trouble along the way. He was always loyal to these friends, never forgot a birthday and maintained a lifelong friendship with Ian Jordan, Barry Cantin and his closest friend Lyle Pedersen.
Al developed a love of music at a young age. He played in the high school band and in 1957 he joined the Regina Police Boys’ Band under the direction of Mr. Tom Toddington and police liaison officer Supt. Mr. Dennis Chisholm. These men were great influences and he remained forever friends with them.
In 1961 at the age of 17, Al decided to spread his wings and join the Royal Canadian Air Force. This decision took him to Eastern Canada where he trained to become a pilot. When this didn’t work out he studied as an aviation electrician. He was posted to several bases.
In 1966 he was posted to 3 Wing, Zweibrucken, Germany. While in Germany he quickly taught himself German, some French and profanity. He served as a volunteer with the CF net radio station as a broadcaster. He even joined a local German band that provided many years of enjoyment for him. He still maintained many of the friendships he made during that time.
Upon his return to Canada he re-mustered his MOC to Air Observer, trained in Wpg. He was then posted to Greenwood, Nova Scotia and served as an air observer on the Argus aircraft and the Sea King helicopter.
As a member of the CAF and a junior officer, I was granted permission to tag along with Al on a training exercise on the Sea King helicopter. I very quickly learned to hang on tight as this included combat flying techniques. I learned how the pilots would chase trains in the Annapolis Valley, then sneak up and drop directly in front of them. Believe me, I was terrified but excited. Of course Al thought my reactions were pretty funny and had a good laugh. The train engineers just smiled and waved. Then we flew to Peggy’s Cove where some scary and fancy maneuvers delighted the crowds below. I remember that a good laugh was had by the crew, but probably not by those on the ground.
Al served in Greenwood until his retirement from the Canadian Forces but his love of aviation did not stop there. He trained to become an Air Traffic Controller and was employed in Thompson, Manitoba. In 1980 he then applied for and was accepted for a position at the Toronto airport as assistant airport duty manager. This was a job that Al loved very much as it combined protocol and meeting many interesting people. For many years he was a member of the organizational team for the Toronto Air Show. This was something he thoroughly enjoyed!
Living in Toronto allowed Al to pursue his love of music. He first joined the Silverthorn Legion Silver band, which is where he met his long time and close friend Jim Donaldson. Al wanted more military affiliation so he was introduced to the Regimental Band and Bugles of the Queen’s Own Rifles in 1988. Al was the Sgt’s. Mess PMC and was very instrumental in organizing band mess dinners as well as becoming a mentor to many younger band members. His donations of bugles to the QOR’s regiment will be Al’s lasting legacy. Al also enjoyed being a proud member of the 48th Highland Military Band and was very proud to be a member of the Regimental Band of the Royal Regiment of Canada. He surrounded himself with music, even in his car. His nephews Kelly and Kris Craig would often remark about driving with Uncle Al and he would turn up the car speakers and play classical or regimental music and conduct with one hand and drive with the other!
Al had many loves in his life – he loved his family, music, friends, the military, cars and cats. He truly appreciated all the people who kindly looked after his cat Czar when he was away or in hospital. Al was always proud of his cars, especially Pontiacs! And of course his new Cadillac. However, driving with him was quite an experience! He gave new meaning to the definition of “Road Rage”. “I’m doing the speed limit, why aren’t you” or “This is a passing zone – don’t you know?” or “Don’t they know they can’t park there? These are just a few of his tamer comments during which his window was always rolled up. Colorful vocabulary indeed.
Al was a character! He was opinionated – especially about politics! Al would often state, “You are entitled to my opinion.” But he was also kind, generous and thoughtful. He loved to host dinner parties, (mess dinner style), drink fine wine, martini’s and discuss the port. Al was always a quick learner. Mom says he taught himself to tell time when he was very young by listening to the radio. He was self-taught on the computer and was happy to teach others. Al had a wide range of friends from the military, airport staff, EMS staff, funeral home staff and his many band affiliations. And they were all special to him. Our family sincerely thank his many friends who gave so much of their time visiting him in the hospital. It was a blessing for his family to know that Al was always surrounded by people who cared about him. We also thank Dr. Swallow and all the medical team who cared for him these past four years. Al truly was a medical miracle.
Being the oldest of the family, Al became our mentor, our protector and our friend. He always supported us and was always proud of our accomplishments whether it was in education, nursing, aviation or library services. I personally always appreciated the mentorship and support from brother Al from the time I was a gunner in the artillery to my promotion to LCol. He was always there for me.
Uncle Al would invite his nieces and nephews for a visit to Toronto when they reached 12 years of age. For those that could make it, Uncle Al spoiled them and treated them to all the exciting sites the big city has to offer. He enjoyed these times more than the kids did. He always remembered family birthdays and anniversaries and made special efforts to visit family wherever they lived. His Christmas card list was never ending.
Al had many different careers and had many, many friends all over the world. If there are names, events or organizations I have left out, I apologize.
Per Ardua Ad Astra (“through adversity to the stars”), is the motto of the Royal Air Force, when the Royal Canadian Air Force came into being in 1924. Al was so proud of this motto because it was presented to the Royal Air Force by our grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel J. S. Yule OBE. Al lived this motto. He fought the good fight and as you know he suffered through a great deal of adversity and now I like to think of him along with my younger brother Roger, visiting the stars and playing the trombone together.