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Virgil Garrett

Virgil Conrad Garrett

Monday, April 3rd, 1922 - Monday, August 26th, 2019
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Obituary – Virgil Conrad Garrett

With sadness, we announce the death of Virgil Conrad Garrett, 97, on August 26, 2019 at Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital in Perth, ON. Virgil was born at home on April 3, 1922 in Zealand, ON to William and Myrtle Garrett, their second of three children. There was a spring snowstorm and his Dad took the buggy over to fetch his Aunt Jessie to help with the birth.

Virgil went to the local one room schoolhouse Oso SS Number 3, just up the road from his parent’s farm in Zealand. In the 1930s, all the school kids participated in an annual school fair sponsored by the T. Eaton Company of Toronto. They grew various grains and raised a calf, which they walked to and from Zealand to the fair in Sharbot Lake, about 7 miles, a long way with a less than cooperative calf. In 1931 Virgil was named Champion Pupil for his area. Since there was no high school in those days, most pupils from local farms finished Grade 8 and started working.

The summer after Virgil finished Grade 8, he was sent to stay with his Great Aunt and Uncle, Arthur and Marion Rooks on their farm outside Napanee. The Rooks had no children of their own and were happy to have a young lad to help out. This is where Virgil learned all about beekeeping, since Arthur Rooks had 178 hives of bees on his property at that time. That was the summer he also learned to play baseball and he came back home with plans to start a local ball team. Over the winter he made a bat out of wood and a ball out of twine and leather. And the next summer the local Zealand boys started playing ball. He and his cousin Harris also decided to become beekeepers and ordered a hive each, which were shipped to them by train. They borrowed a honey extractor from John Conboy. Virgil’s hive was mild-tempered and didn’t produce much honey. Harris’ hive, on the other hand was aggressive, but produced a lot of honey. After that summer, Harris decided beekeeping was not his thing and sold his hive to Virgil who went on to have almost 50 hives at Roscoe’s farm. He sold the honey locally and enjoyed taking little jars of it around to the local seniors in Sharbot Lake.

In 1943, romance blossomed, when Virgil met a new public school teacher, Beryl Sansome, at a dance in Sharbot Lake. Things moved along and in 1947, they married. Needing a steady job, Virgil joined the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1948 where he worked as a bridge carpenter on the Toronto Bridges and Building gang for 9 years, commuting to Toronto during the week. He also started building a house in Sharbot Lake. Since Virgil had a wood lot, he and his brother Roscoe cut his trees and brought them over to his cousin Ralph’s sawmill where they sawed and milled them. Virgil started work on the house in 1949 and moved into it in 1953 with Beryl and their new baby daughter Anne.

Soon Virgil and Beryl had a second daughter, Jane, and he started looking for a job closer to home. He had heard that the janitor at the new high school was retiring and thought that might be a good opportunity for work near home. So, he went to talk to the Principal, who convinced him to go back to high school with the goal of becoming a teacher himself. Virgil finished grades 11 and 12 in 1957 at the age of 35. He then did a two-year Industrial Arts program at the Ontario College of Education in Toronto, graduating in 1959. He went on to teach Industrial Arts at Sharbot Lake High School (extending his qualifications with a specialist certificate in 1965) until his retirement in 1984.

Virgil always had a project (or two) on the go. In the early 60s he was talking to a fellow teacher in Perth who suggested he should buy a Model T Ford and restore it. While the Tin Lizzie he bought, was mostly complete, it was missing some parts and wasn’t running. Over the years, he scoured the local area for missing pieces, while he worked on restoring it and getting it running. He re-upholstered the seats, found running lights and other missing pieces, cleaned up the body work and rebuilt the engine. His last ride in it was in 2016 up to the Legion for the celebration of 70 years as a Mason.

Virgil was always a strong supporter of his community. He served as a volunteer fireman, was a lifetime member of the choir at Sharbot Lake United Church, and President of the 39ers Seniors Club. He was to be seen most Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market by the beach. He joined the Frontenac Masonic Lodge in 1946 and, after his retirement, was the Deputy District Grand Master. He also achieved higher degrees of Masonry within the York Rite.

Virgil taught generations of students the importance of safety in the shop and there are probably a lot of fingers still on hands as a result. Like all good teachers, he enjoyed figuring out what motivated each individual to learn. As much as possible, he let students choose their projects and guided them in techniques to a successful end result. There are numerous homes in the area with hand-crafted wooden clocks, gun cabinets, tables, sewing tables, corner cupboards, chairs, and even a violin, all made during Virgil’s regular classes or at night school.

Virgil was pre-deceased by his wife Beryl in 2017 and his brother Roscoe and sister Buelah in 2015. He is survived by his daughters Anne Garrett (Peter Jarvis) and Jane McFarlane (Ian), his grandchildren Duncan McFarlane (Cecilia Livingston), Heather McFarlane and Stuart McFarlane, his nephews and nieces Marion Clark, Peter Garrett, David Peterson and Lorraine Jaffray.

Visitation will be Saturday August 31st at 11am at Goodfellow’s Funeral Home in Parham, ON followed by a Funeral Service at 12pm, Rev. Jean Brown officiating. Donations to Sharbot Lake United Church or a charity of your choice would be appreciated by the family.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Saturday, August 31st, 2019 | 11:00am - 12:00pm
    Saturday, August 31st, 2019 11:00am - 12:00pm
    Goodfellow's Funeral Home
    11014 hwy 38
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Saturday, August 31st, 2019 | 12:00pm
    Saturday, August 31st, 2019 12:00pm
    Goodfellow's Funeral Home
    11014 hwy 38
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Rev Jean Brown
  • Reception

    Sharbot Lake United Church


Donations are being accepted for: SHARBOT LAKE UNITED CHURCH.


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Private Condolence
Allan Pyle sent flowers to the family of Virgil Conrad Garrett.
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Irene Bowes

Posted at 08:10pm
To Jane, Anne and family. So sorry for your loss.I was lucky enough to work for your dad and mom for 6 years. He taught me a lot in those years. How to care for bees, wood working and learn how to make something out of nothing. He was a great person and teacher. God BLess

Pete Snell

Posted at 05:04pm
RIP Mr Garrett. I appreciated his style of teaching in the shop, the combination of flexibility and hard rules helped form some of my own shop habits, as well as contributing to my own style in instructing 1st year university students. I'm sure he influenced many others.

Pete Snell

Peter Garrett

Posted at 09:30am
What an amazing man and an amazing life. Marg called him the book of knowledge which he certainly was. Our visits with him were always inspiring right up to the end. His memory and story telling ability was second to none! He will be missed! A life well lived from an era gone by now.
Peter and Marg Garrett

Allan Pyle

Posted at 04:53pm
I am forever grateful for Mr. Garrett's guidance and positive influence throughout my tenure at SL High. He was as solid as the granite it sits on.
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Allan Pyle purchased the Peaceful White Lilies Basket for the family of Virgil Garrett. Send Flowers


Jean Brown

Posted at 02:30pm
On behalf of Sharbot Lake United Church, we offer our condolences, prayers and love in Virgil's death. Virgil was a gift from God. We have many fond memories of Virgil- singing in the choir, sharing his honey on "Choir appreciation Sunday", fixing, repairing, helping out and offering guidance and prayers. Sincerely Rev. Jean Brown, Mr. Allan Gurnsey, Sharbot Lake United Church

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