Real life stories - Vernon Hargreaves

For those who survived the Great Depression – it is hard to take for granted simple needs like food, shelter and clothing. In many cases the hardship left an indelible mark on those who lived through it. Vernon Hargreaves was one survivor of this tough era.

As you rush home from work tonight, are you stopping at the supermarket to grab some dinner? Maybe you have to pick up your kids from ballet classes or hockey training.

In our busy lives, it’s easy to forget how fortunate many of us are to live in modern day Canada.

For those who survived the Great Depression – it is hard to take for granted simple needs like food, shelter and clothing. In many cases the hardship left an indelible mark on those who lived through it.

Vernon Hargreaves was one survivor of this tough era.

As a teenager growing up in the Great Depression, he experienced firsthand the hardships of living in a time when many Canadians were without jobs, homes and even proper food or clothing. Vernon resolved to help those in need as soon as he was in a position to do so.

He went on to serve in the Royal Canadian Artillery in the 1940’s. In the 1950’s he become a highly successful figure, following in the footsteps of his father, Harry Hargreaves. He met and married his wife, Betty, and together they settled in Richmond where they raised their children.

Through the years, Vernon never forgot his promise. “Having grown up in the Depression era, my parents really understood the need for community support,” says Vernon’s daughter, Betsy Gibbons. “When I was growing up, they were very active in service clubs such as Kiwanis, where my father was president. They also supported a number of community organizations such as Richmond Hospital and the Gateway Theatre.”

When Betsy herself became a parent, giving birth to two sons at the Grace Hospital, Vernon and Betty began their relationship with what would one day be known as BC Women’s. “My father was a tremendous supporter of women’s issues and this included the advancement of women’s health,” says Betsy, who went on to become chair of BC Women’s Foundation, recently stepping down in 2006. “He continued to support BC Women’s for the rest of his life, and even beyond, through a bequest he made to the Foundation in his estate.”

Vernon Hargreaves passed away on November 19, 2007. For Betsy, the timing of his passing was particularly difficult: the following day, on what would have been Vernon’s 90th birthday, his great grandson was born at BC Women’s in the new single-room maternity ward. “It was an emotional time,” says Betsy. “There was so much joy and yet great sadness that my father could not be there to meet his great grandson.”

“But I like to think that he lives on in spirit. And I’m am heartened to know he will be dearly remembered at BC Women’s through the legacy that he left.”

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