Obituary of John Francis Devins
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of our dear father John Francis Devins or as his friends and family called him Jack. He goes to be reunited with his lifelong true friend, partner and wife of 65 years (Velma) Alberta Margaret or just “Bertie” (predeceased 2015) and his sister Margaret Beasley (our Jiggs predeceased 2007) . Dad and mom leave quite a legacy. Five children - Faye Smith (Les), Karen Beattie (John), Cathy Devins (Peter Large), Mary Ellen Marshman (Doug) and John Devins (Susan). Dad also leaves 14 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren. Dad was born in the Humber Summit area (now Vaughan) and grew up on the farm during the depression, an influence he would carry with him throughout life. Before anything was thrown out, it was repaired, reused or recycled. He spent many a late night working on farm equipment to be used the next day. He could fix or build anything. He was a master craftsman with a welder, grinder, epoxy and resin glue and duct tape. As a youth, Dad was very active in Junior Farmers singing, acting and in leadership. He performed as part of the trio ‘Two Macs and a Jack’. In Junior Farmers he made lifelong friendships and met the love of his life - Bertie Forster. They were married in June of 1950 and started their family the following year. In the fifties, he transformed the family farm into a successful sand and gravel business in service to the post-war housing boom in North Toronto. He returned to his farming roots in the 1960s, selling that land to buy a farm near Dunkerron, Ontario. There he built a dairy operation and was one of the first farmers to sell milk to Beckers in its early years. In 1966, the government introduced milk quotas and dad decided to sell the cows because “he didn’t want the government telling him what to do”. After selling the milk cows, dad bought some cattle in the fall of 1968 to eat up the leftover silage. This was a temporary step until he figured out what to do next. One day one of these feeder cows gave birth to a white calf. He had never seen such a thing, so he did some reading and found out they were called Charolais beef cattle from France. This began a whole new chapter as Lochlo Farm came to prominence. The Charolais business started as a breeding operation with yearly trips to France to buy and import cattle to Canada. The breeding operation progressed into an auction business (Coast to Coast) involving the purchase of cattle from all over Canada and the US. Dad was President of the Ontario and Canadian Charolais Associations, highlights of which included trips to Ireland and Japan in the 1970s to represent Canadian Charolais breeders. There were many successes in these years; setting the world record price at auction for a cow, numerous championships at the Royal Winter Fair, and selling a bull back to France to help them rebuild the breed in its country of origin. Quite an achievement. During this time, he was asked to join Peel Mutual Insurance company as an insurance adjuster, then a board member, and eventually board President. He also served on the board of Pine Ridge Cemetery in Vaughan. Eventually, Dad wound down their Charolais business. In 1981, they sold Lochlo Farm and bought the adjoining 50 acres where they renovated an old farmhouse into a stunning new home. Dad retired from farming in 1986. He and mom moved to Nobleton where they renovated a house and built a garage for all Dad’s “toys”. After a few years of living in Nobleton, they decided to move closer to Faye and Mary Ellen and bought a house in London Ontario where they would both live for the remainder of their lives. Both spent their last days at Highview Residences. Dad had a keen interest in old cars. He had a few, but his pride and joy was a stunning maroon 1939 Cadillac convertible parade car. It allowed him to justify trips to car flea markets in places like Hersey, PA with his buddies Al, Ray and Gord and to buy a Winnebago MotorHome to make travel more convenient. Mom and Dad spent many winters in warmer climates - initially renting in Barbados and eventually buying a coach in Fairway Village in Largo Florida, which they owned for many years. Those were golden years in which they had a lot of fun with their many friends in Fairway. In summer, Dad and Mom liked to get away from the farm. In the 1950s they bought a property on Six Mile Lake near Severn Ontario. At the time, it was boat access only and they built a cabin. It was quite an ordeal and speaks to Dad’s determination to spend some fun time at the cottage - Farm all day, drive 2 hours north, get in a boat, travel up the river, dock the boat, settle all 5 kids into bed, enjoy an evening and drive back home the next day to do the chores. They had friends on the lake and made many precious memories of the great laughs and lots of fun. In 1963, they sold Six Mile and bought a cottage on Lake Simcoe. Dad had a lifelong commitment to the Masonic Lodge. He held progressive positions, eventually becoming Senior Warden of Toronto District representing Blackwood Lodge in the 1970s. There are many ways to describe Dad. He had integrity, was honest and fair. He was loyal to Mom, his family and friends. Dad had an incredible memory. He was creative, humble, intelligent and talented. He loved music and singing. He had a mischievous smile and liked to have fun, tell stories, and play practical jokes. Dad was generous, determined and ambitious - he had a great vision for what things could become and he followed through. Dad was once asked - how would you like to be remembered? His answer was: “Bertie and I would like to be remembered for this - that we left any situation or place that we were involved with better than we found it.” A life well lived Dad, and yes, you will be remembered that way.