Gunnar Keith Marlowe (Keith) passed away peacefully on July 11, 2023 at Heritage Manor in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.
Keith was born on the Ashdown family farm near Peesane, Saskatchewan second son to Gunnar and Gwenyth Norbraton on November 8, 1933. At 11 months of age Keith’s father contrated tuberculosis and died in April of 1935.
Gwenyth, who was the postmistress, remarried to Neal Marlowe in March of 1937. At the time the boys, George and Keith, were informally adopted but did not formally change their name until 1954. George and Keith were joined by a sisters Patricia and Nora.
Keith spent his earlier years on the family farm at Peesane schooling was taken at Brierview, Peesane and Gerwood Schools. In 1949 Keith graduated from Grade 8 at the age of 12 and in the spring of that year went to work for Joe Rio who farmed in the Tisdale area. In 1950 he worked with his uncle Darryl Ashdown in a garage at Clashmore, Saskatchewan. His uncle was a journeyman welder and taught Keith how to weld.
In the spring of 1951 at the age of 18 Keith started his career as a CAT operator with the Saskatchewan Government Department of Natural Resources Construction Branch (D.N.R.) His first assignment was with a crew in the Cypress Hills Provincial Park. During the next three years the crew moved to Uranium City. A uranium deposit had been found in the are and a mining operation begun. His work included building roads and streets, digging basements and setting up the town. It also meant moving buildings in from Gold Athabasca Lakes. Keith and his brother George had many stories of the work that they did during this time. They talked about jacking up the buildings onto skids and a single Cat would pull them on the level, but it often would take two or even three cats to pull them going uphill. It was not work for the timid. Everything coming in had to be freighted in over the frozen lakes which was very hazardous.
While moving a church, the cross on the peak was too high to pass under a power line. Keith and another worker scrambled up onto the roof where, by standing on Keith’s shoulders, he sawed off enough of the cross to allow it to pass under the power line.
Keith often told the story of going in for supper one night in camp and there was a terrible smell. He went into the kitchen and the cook was there shaving the green off the beef. That night Keith and a friend snuck into the kitchen and took the beef and buried it out in the forest. Enough was enough!
The DNR branch was responsible for opening up the North to commerce and the tourist trade. Campfires became an issue – Keith solved the problem by designing a pedestal sheet metal stove/barbecue which can still be found in many of the parks across Saskatchewan.
In 1952 Keith was invited to board and rent with his friend Bill Phillips family and Keith accepted the offer. Here he met Bill’s sister Edith who was just completing her schooling. Edith later worked for the Victoria Union Hospital and the Prince Albert Fire Department. Before long they were going out.
On January 13, 1956 Keith and Edith were married in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. They made their home in Prince Alberta and Keith continued to work for the DNR. During this time they had six children Lorraine in 1956, Brian in 1958, Dean in 1959, Janet in 1961, Wesley in 1963 and Lee in March of 1966. In May of 1966 after 15 years with the DNR Keith put in a successful bid for the position as journeyman welder with the Department of Highways in Rosetown.
Now that Keith had regular hours of work so he was able to upgrade his education and with a year of home study he was able to pass the exams and receive the equivalent of a High School Grade 12 certificate and completed the examinations that gave him his Heavy Duty Mechanic papers.
This was also a time when Keith began giving his time into community activities. In 1968 Keith and Jim Bertolo were founding members of the Rosetown Stock Car Racing Association. They built the track in the hills southwest of Rosetown which is still there. Keith had many fond memories of racing. It was also during this time that Keith joined the Rosetown Elks.
In May of 1969 tragedy struck with the drowning of Lee at the age of three in the Rosetown Swimming Pool. There was no ambulance service at that time in Rosetown and CPR was not well known. Keith had taken some routine First Aid classes while at the DNR and decided to do something about the lack of training and having no ambulance service. It was important to him to do whatever he could to prevent similar tragedies.
Fundraising began and in 1974 the Rosetown Union Hospital received its first ambulance from the Kinsmen Foundation and the process began to establish a volunteer drivers list. Keith was the first one to offer his services and was accepted. He remained with the ambulance services for 12 years. In 1975 Keith completed a St. Johns First Aid course for Emergency Medical Technicians Course plus cardo-pulmonary training with the Saskatchewan Heart Foundation. In 1978 he took a St. John’s First Aid Instructors course which qualified him to teach first aid and then further training permitted him to train instructors. Keith then took the Emergency Measures Technician (EMT) training which was supervised by doctors in both Saskatoon and Regina. Each student was required to take 20 hours of training followed by 40 hours as observers in a Saskatoon hospital emergency receiving ward plus one full day in an operating room.
During this time Keith covered the areas surrounding Rosetown and put on 50 First Aid Classes, 60 CPR classes and his position in Instructor Training took him all over Saskatchewan and also to Winnipeg. In 1982 Keith received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Saskatchewan Health Care Association. No one will ever know how many lives have been saved through Keith’s efforts to educate people to save lives.
In 1974 Keith joined the Rosetown Volunteer Fire Department and remained a member for 12 years. Keith said his time as a volunteer was only made possible due to Al Linklater his supervisor at the Department of Highways who supported Keith’s volunteer positions.
After retirement Keith and Edith started a new life on the road with the High Artic Mobile Seafood Marketing Company routes in 1987 and continued this work for 18 months. This took them to many towns all over Western Canada and they often spoke fondly about the people they met.
Keith then worked at the Rosetown Golf and County Club as Head Greens Keeper.
Other areas Keith was involved in was as hosts of the Canada World Youth Exchange in 1983, Cook and caterer for the Saskatchewan winter games, Hockey coach, Rosetown Jamboree Committee, Rosetown Ball and Pin Bowling Centre, The Rosetown Eagle, Wheels for Wheels driver, Volunteer Driver, Elks Homes caretaker, Fruit truck operator, snow removal at the Anglican/Lutheran church and as a caterer for the Elks Organization. Keith enjoyed cooking and it was really nothing for him to knock off a supper for 200 and still remain calm and collected. When your cooking passed inspection, he would always smile and say, “that’s dandy!”
In 1993 Keith was awarded the Citizen of the Year Award for his unfailing devotion to the community of Rosetown and its residents. Keith was a humble man who did not seek accolades, but we know that this honor was truly appreciated.
Keith loved Edith, loved his children, loved his grandchildren and was always interested to know how the great grandchildren were growing up. He enjoyed looking at photos and videos of what his family were doing. Dad will be greatly missed and always loved but we know he really missed Mom and was ready to join her.
One can really only say, “Well done good and faithful servant. We love and will miss you Dad.”
Keith is survived by his children Lorraine (Dennis) High, Brian (Susan) Marlowe, Dean (Shelly) Marlowe, Janet Phillips, Wesley Marlowe, his sister Nora (Paul) Gambling, sister-in-law Toni Phillips as well as 10 grandchildren Sandra (Lenard) High, Patrick High, Taylor Marlowe, Samantha (Waylon) Marlowe, Catherine (Shawn) Phelan, Jennifer (Joao) Marlowe, Adam (Erin) Marlowe, Lisa Brianna Phillips, Samm (Michelle) Marlowe, Candice (Dillon) Pfleging, 11 great grandchildren Drayven High, Amelia Rafter-High, Logan Ring, Kairi High, Aria High, Winry High, Mia Phelan, Brooklynn Phillips-McCoshen, Kira Pfleging, Wyatt Pfleging and Bryan Marlowe as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his loving wife Edith Marlowe, son Lee Marlowe, grandson Richard Phillips, his father Gunnar Norbraton, mother Gweneth Marlowe, step father Neil Marlowe, father and mother in law Albert and Jane Phillips, brother George Marlowe and sister-in-law Esther Marlowe, sister Patricia and Orland (Red) Dimick, brother-in-law Bill Phillips, sister-in-law June Phillips and brother-in-law Bob Phillips.
Donations can be made to the Rosetown and District Health Centre Foundation Inc. or a charity of your choice.