Turning 100: pioneer children of the Valley

Birthday party for Ray Crook and Joy Bond

In an historic building two years younger than the centenarians being celebrated, friends and family gathered to celebrate Ray Crook’s and Joy Bond’s 100th birthdays last Thursday, August 30th.

Upwards of 100 people overflowed the CPR Lodge to commemorate their spectacular milestone birthdays.

A festive atmosphere was in the air, with party balloons and decorations, two cakes, and the musical backdrop of the Second Winds orchestra as guests arrived and signed guestbooks. All around the room, attendees swapped stories of Ray and Joy, sharing how Joy still washes dishes at the church kitchen, how Ray scoots around town, making regular outings to the Invermere Library.

Over at Joy’s table, her two daughters and assorted family clustered around the matriarch. True to her given name, Joy smiled wide as well wishers gave her hugs and shared a few words with her. At Ray’s table, a steady stream of visitors approached to congratulate him, to reminisce about old times, or joke about the ravages of getting older.

Ray Crook and Joy Bond were both born in the Columbia Valley, both grew up and attended the local schools, both lived their lives here and flourished, as much woven into the fabric of Invermere as the lake and mountains.

Speakers praised the duo for not only their long lives, but of lives lived well.

Margaret Christensen, president of the Windermere Valley Historic Society, spoke first at the afternoon event, sharing that both Joy and Ray are lifetime members of the historic society. Joy has been a treasurer and is now a director, “keeping us on the straight and narrow,” said Ms. Christensen.

“Both are pioneer children of the Valley, and how special is that,” she commented.

Ray’s nephew Gary Crook, who traveled from Switzerland with his wife Darlene for the party, spoke about his uncle, providing a condensed history of the lifetime Valley resident.

“Ray has been more than a great uncle; he’s been a great friend,” said Mr. Crook. “It’s been a real privilege to come and visit him.”

Ray grinned throughout the presentation, pulling his camera out to snap some pictures of the speech.

Dorothy Blunden then spoke about Joy.

“What can one say? She is honest, reliable, giving, a hard worker, and that’s only at the beginning of the week,” said Ms. Blunden.

Ms. Blunden said of Joy that she believes very strongly in feeding the community of Invermere, hosting teas, baking for bake sales and in celebrations too numerous to count.

Ms. Blunden, who was the long-time curator at the museum, shared that often, when there was a meeting at the museum and the question would come up of who would bring refreshments the next time, they would all shuffle their feet and look at the floor, waiting for Joy who would pipe up and offer willingly.

She spoke of Joy’s garden, a place of wonder that has fed many a mouth over the years, citing the bags of produce often found on one’s doorstep from the bountiful garden.

“Even the deer enjoyed the garden, until Joy reluctantly erected a fence around her plot,” Ms. Blunden said, garnering smiles and chuckles around the room.

MLA Doug Clovechok also spoke, congratulating Ray and Joy and citing it an “absolute honour” to be part of this celebration.

“They say we are a reflection of our history and past. To me, it gives me hope,” said Mr. Clovechok.

He quipped that his grandad said as you get older, you get better, “so that must mean you two are perfect.”

He brought along certificates of congratulations from his party and from the premier.

MP Wayne Stetski was unable to attend but sent an assistant, who also sent along well wishes from the MP as well as certificate from the Queen of England and the Governor General.

After singing Happy Birthday, enjoying cake and coffee, and visiting, everyone walked out with smiles on their faces, surely inspired by these two special Invermere residents who make turning 100 look effortless.

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