More than 30 years after his death, the remains of former Mission teacher Walter Pickersgill have been laid to rest.
Former students, along with friends and family members attended a special ceremony held today at Hatzic Cemetery.
“I am absolutely blown away by the turnout. But I’m so thrilled for Mr. Pickersgill and for his family,” said Sandy Maguire who helped organize the event.
Pickersgill was an English teacher in Mission. He was born on Jan. 24, 1909 and passed away June 27, 1981. His body was cremated in Mission, but his remains were never claimed.
Maguire saw his name listed in an ad for “Disposition of Unclaimed Cremated Remains” last November and did not hesitate to make arrangements to honour her high school English teacher.
Word spread fast and more than 100 people attended the ceremony, including two of Pickersgill’s family members.
“They [Pickersgill’s family] have learned through us how important he was. How much he was loved and respected. And I think to see this today really gives them something to take home to the rest of his family,” said Maguire.
Clare Cecchini (nee Pickersgill) flew from Montreal to attend the service. She learned about her uncle’s remains after getting an email from another relative who had been contacted by Maguire.
She said she wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
“I thought it was beautifully done. Sandy did a wonderful job organizing it. I was very touched by the woman [Pastor Gloria Kieler] who read the English poetry, so many of them very familiar to me,” said Cecchini.
“To see the students and what an impact he had on their lives is so remarkable. As a family we are so happy that we have learned so much more about this distant uncle,” she added.
Many of the emails sent to Cecchini describer her uncle as kind, understanding and beloved.
Cecchini was joined by her daughter, Nina Watts who travelled form North Vancouver to attend her great Uncle’s service.
“Oh my gosh it was just wonderful. It’s amazing to see how people come together. It’s truly an amazing story.”
She said since his cremated remains were rediscovered, the family has begun sharing stories about Pickersgill and pulling out old family photo albums.
The ceremony included a minute of silence, prayer, the laying of a wreath (Pickersgill was a veteran) and stories about the late teacher.
At the end, his cremated remains were placed into the earth as friends and students laid flowers around his final resting place.