ALEXANDER, John (Jack) Sherwood Age 74 years, passed away on April 16th, 2011 at Langley Memorial Hospital. He will be lovingly remembered by his wife Joan; sons Mark (Louise), Tony (Debbie); daughters Leslie (Larry) Stadnick, Linda (Walter) Van Leeuwen; step son Bill (Marijean) Maher; step daughter Maryann (Scott) Peterson; 13 grandchildren; 3 brothers; many extended family and friends. He was predeceased by his first wife Shannon. Jack served with the Vancouver Police Department for 30 years retiring in 1994. A Celebration of Life service will be held at St. Josephs Roman Catholic Church, 20680 Fraser Hwy. in Langley on Friday, April 29th, at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to BC Children's Hospital. Condolences may be offered at www.hendersonslangleyfunerals.com
Arrangements under the direction of Henderson's Langley Funeral Home, Langley, BC.
Dad was a big man. My earliest memories of him were that he was as big as a tree. As a small boy, I knew of no other person as tall or as strong as he was and I took great comfort and pride that my father was the biggest man in the world. At 6'5'' and 265 lbs, he stood out in any crowd. His arms were like oak trees and his hands were like baseball gloves. As a young man testing the waters at the age of fifteen, I decided to push buttons that I really wasn't ready to push and got a first hand sense of that strength as I sailed down the hall and through the kitchen with my feet never touching the ground.
As I observed him through the years his strength never diminished, however I did begin to see it in new forms. In the early years I saw him as the steady disciplinarian to Leslie, Linda, Tony and myself. When things got a bit out of hand at home my mother would simply utter the phrase "Wait till your father gets home" which was enough to have the four of us immediately fall back into line. Despite having heard this phrase numerous times, I have no recollection of him coming home after his shift and actually applying the discipline. It was enough for us that the possibility was there.
What I do have a fond recollection of though is the time he came home after working the afternoon shift with fresh crab he had been given, so we got out of bed at 3am, cooked it up and had a feast. Then there were the times he would take us out on a ride-along in the police boat. Or the time he came home after a late shift, took his service revolver out and taught us how to shoot tin cans off the neighbor's fence…
OK, that last one never happened. But what he did teach us was how to build a camp fire, and how to troll for salmon, and jig for cod. How to stand up on water skis and where to find top-dead-centre. He taught us that the best before date was an interesting piece of information. We learned that eating the food didn't result in food poisoning. On the other hand, if the can was bulging, a different set of rules applied.
These things he took the time to explain to us, but the really important stuff wasn't articulated so much in words, but in his actions.
He taught us that through your work, you can affect people you don't even know in profound ways. He didn't discuss specifics of the work he did as an officer with the Vancouver Police Department, whether for reasons of confidentiality or simply to spare his family from the horrors that an officer regularly encounters in service of the public. I do know that over the course of his 30 year career he has saved numerous lives, recovered missing people, gathered evidence leading to the conviction of some horrifying criminals, and in at least one case, intervened when a young woman was at imminent risk of being assaulted by a man they were investigating. A man who was prolific in his assaults and is now in jail on an indefinite sentence. It would be difficult to measure the impact any one of dad's actions has had on people affected. It would be even more difficult to gauge the collective impact of his professional career. These achievements are commonplace for police officers, but are ones that few of us outside the force could ever put on a resume.
He taught us that brotherhood is a bond unlike any others. Bill, Paul and Jim. I don't need to describe to you, the level of respect that Dad held for each of you, or the strength of the bond that you brothers share. That was obvious to me when dad was hospitalized in December and you came so quickly to show him your support.
He taught us the value of keeping good friends from school as good friends throughout life. Grant and Margaret Thompson and Bob and Diane Martin are friendships that began in school, formed the framework of Leslie, Linda, Tony and my earliest memories, and they are friendships that continued to this day.
He taught us that reading a book with a grandchild while she sat on his knee, spoke more to that child about her importance in this world than all of what could fit under a thousand Christmas trees.
By his devotion to Mom and the positive and unquestioning support he gave her during her battle with ill health, he taught us how to be a devoted partner through the good times as well as the bad times, and that the bad times could also be good.
Through his marriage to Joan, the obvious joy they shared in each others company, the love they shared for each other's family, and the many trips they experienced together, they both showed us that even after tragedy and loss, brilliant new experiences lie ahead.
He taught us that you can live a very fulfilling life without holding grudges or having enemies. I can't recall any single time where dad held any form of animosity against someone.
Today, we have all come together here to remember him and what he meant to us. Our experiences with him will be similar in many ways, but unique to each of us none the less. Although the tree of a man who was my father, your brother, your husband, your friend, your grandfather is no longer standing as he had been for as long as we can remember, his roots continue to run deep within each of us.