Dallas Raymond Dahl
February 21, 1929 - April 10, 2018
Dallas passed away peacefully in Victoria Hospital on April 10, 2018 at the age of 89 with his son at his side.
Out of respect for his wishes cremation has taken place and there will be no formal service.
Dallas was born in 1929 in Portage la Prairie and then his family, dad Ray (Barney) and mom Sylvia, took him and his younger brother Ken to live in Winnipeg where he lived the rest of his life. This means that he was a child during the Great Depression through the 1930's. There are very few of his generation left, but they seemed to have been shaped by those years. Many turned out to be hard-working, respectful, humble and thrifty. In many ways, that was our dad. But Dallas also had that gift of being grateful for even the smallest things: kids, dogs, his rose bushes, the smile of a stranger, a well-struck golf shot, and sitting in his lawn chair on the patio watching the sun set.
But one of the things he loved most was to dance, especially with his 'dance partner', our mom, his wife Vicki, until her untimely passing in 1997. He learned to dance from his mother and also by practicing before school with his brother, our uncle Kenny, also a great dancer. Dallas swung, jived, soft-shoed and jitterbugged to pretty much every classic swing tune ever recorded. Back in the days of city-wide dance competitions, dad was Winnipeg's Jitterbug Champion. We think the year was 1949 or maybe 1950. Dad and mom were beautiful to watch when they danced - so smooth, so graceful, but always with that little bit extra of a down home, deep sense of rhythm that all great swing dancers have. Dallas also had that unique ability to make his partner feel like they could really 'cut a rug' too. Some could, some not so much. We, his sons Tom and Dennis, decided to include that one picture of just our mom 'all gussied up' up in a purple retro 1920-30's dress, because that night they went out to a party and according to our auntie Cecile and uncle John, "Danced up a storm". That's one reason why it was so sad too see dad's physical decline over the final six months; because the legs that, for so many years, took him so effortlessly around the dance floor, could barely carry him from the couch to the kitchen, and then finally not at all. One day about five months before his passing, Tom cued up a great old swing tune on his car stereo as they drove to Sal's for some brunch. Dad said, "Man I love that tune, but it makes me sad because it just makes me want to dance... just one more time".
Given Dallas' love of music he was proud and supportive when Tom chose that career. He didn't always like the bands Tom played with but he always loved his piano playing that reached back in time and had been influenced by the original boogie-woogie, blues and jazz players. When Tom was living in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, he made sure that Dallas came to hear him play a solo concert during the 1997 summer Jazz Festival in Saskatoon. This was just months after his wife Vicki had passed suddenly and unexpectedly. Tom made sure to include some of his dad's favourite jazz and blues tunes like Tin Roof Blues, Stars Fell on Alabama and I've Got My Mojo Workin'. Just before the final tune Tom let the audience know that it had been difficult for him to pick an appropriate song to end with. But then he said, "But after sleeping on it, it became very clear. This one's for my dad". And he played his bluesy gospel version of Amazing Grace, one of his dad's all-time favourites. When it was over, the first person standing, tears streaming down his cheeks, was Dallas. It was a moment that neither he nor Tom would ever forget.
The pictures start with a few from his younger years but are mostly from his life after he married mom. There are a couple that show his father Barney and one, a 'Four Generations' photo, that shows his grandfather Thomas. Then there are a few shots of Glenwood baseball teams that we played on or dad coached. Dad loved those years. "Great kids, great parents" he would say about the Glenwood community. And he loved watching his kids play sports, mostly baseball and hockey. He must have been at the arena or in the bleachers for hundreds of their games over the years. There are some good shots of dad in Vancouver mostly having fun with Dennis and his friends. Sadly, many great pictures of dad and Dennis enjoying the Vancouver Winter Olympics have been lost.
We feel that it is important to note that dad enjoyed his two primary careers over his adult life. He worked at the Winnipeg Tribune newspaper for over 25 years starting in his early 20's. He loved that place and everyone he worked with. They called him the 'Iron Man' there because he missed so few work days. He was deeply affected when the Tribune folded and it took him a while before he got back on track. Then he started working at the Windsor Park Golf Course which he loved. He loved the staff he worked with as well as the thousands of golfers who crossed his path. In fact, he spent a few extra years as the Starter on the first tee because he really liked being out there with the golfers, always sending them off the first tee with a few words of encouragement. He could play some too and was Tom's lifelong golf buddy. He even got two hole-in-ones, both at Windsor. A few years ago, when Tom was attending a workshop, the instructor asked, "Do you know a Dallas Dahl?" When Tom replied that Dallas was his father this man relayed a story that he clearly felt was important. "I was a young man over 25 years ago when I worked on the Maintenance Crew at Windsor. Your dad worked there at the time. That was when I lost my father. More than a few times your dad would quietly take me aside and asked how I was doing and just let me talk. In a way, he almost became a second father for me when I really needed it. I'll never forget him for that". Tom didn't quite know what to say except, "Yep, that's my dad". But the really important thing about this story is that my dad never told this to any of us. This was the first I had heard of it, and completely by happenstance. But that was Dallas. He could do really nice things for people because "It's the right thing to do", and just leave it at that.
Dennis moved to Vancouver 35 years ago and dad went to visit every year, sometimes twice. This also allowed him to see his brother Ken who had also moved to BC as a young man, and Ken's wife Viv and the kids Raeann, Diann and Barry and their families. Dad was heartbroken when uncle Kenny called to tell him of the untimely passing of Diann. These visits allowed them to nurture their relationship that lasted until the very end. In fact, uncle Kenny called dad on his hospital room phone a number of times when Tom was there to pick up. We're not entirely sure dad was completely 'with it' during these calls, but one thing was for sure, he knew his brother had phoned and was there for him to the end. And that was so important and comforting to him.
But the 35 years of visiting Dennis in Vancouver was to hang out and have fun, and fun they had. They played the Dahl Cup every year he was there. This was their annual pool tournament with friends David and Glen and Dennis said, "Hey, we even let him win a few". They all looked forward to the Cup and had a lot of laughs.
There are two pictures of dad and Dennis at Whistler. Dad had taught us to ski when we were very young. Dennis then rekindled dad's interest in skiing in the 1980's and enjoyed Whistler. Not sure if dad made it off the bunny slope, but they had fun.
One year Dennis took dad on a surprise Father's Day trip to Seattle (2 pictures). They saw the great jazz vocalist Dianna Schuur on Saturday night then went to see the Mariners play Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. But they had to hit Seattle's big Pike Fish Market before they returned home.
Dennis took dad to at least 3 Grey Cups in Vancouver, many Canuck games and also went to see some blues and jazz greats including Etta James and Koko Taylor. They also played a lot of board games and dad was apparently quite good at Trivial Pursuit, which might harken back to his days with the Tribune.
Dad went many times to play with Dennis and their team in the Pink Broom Curling Bonspiel. Dennis noted, "We won a few medals but most of all, he left a mark on the whole league. It is amazing how many people still ask about dad because he was such an admired and liked figure to the people in our curling league".
But Dennis took dad to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, in a big way. For many events you had to enter a lottery just to get the right to buy tickets. If you didn't win a lottery spot you couldn't buy a ticket. Dennis ended up taking dad to 9 events.and they had a ball. Now, dad was 81 at the time, but good to go. When staff spotted dad and Dennis at the back of the line to see the Speedskating, they went over to them and offered dad a motorized scooter. Then they walked them through the line, into the rink, gave them chairs and seated them with their noses up against the glass at the final turn of the oval. They saw Cindy Klassen, Clara Hughes and all the world class skaters fly right past them on their way to the finish line. But mostly they saw five gold medals culminating in the men's gold medal hockey game. In fact, Dennis had bought such good seats that it seemed like Sidney Crosby shot the puck straight at them when he scored the game winning goal. Dad talked for months about the Games when he got home. It was clearly a high point in his, and Dennis' life.
Dad's last visit to Vancouver was in November 2010 to attend Dennis' wedding to Fabio, an occasion he was not going to miss. Dad was happy he could make it and happy for Dennis and Fabio, but age was starting to take it's toll on him and he never returned to Vancouver. After that, Dennis would make frequent trips to Winnipeg to be with dad and Tom.
We took dad to St. Boniface Hospital in January and he never made it home. But it made it clear to his sons that he had lived 89 years, that he loved his life and he loved us every day of our lives, no matter what. We loved him for that and always will. But he was so tired he was ready to go.
The family has dwindled over the years. Besides the two of us and his brother Ken (aunt Viv), Dallas had kept contact with only a few in recent years: "Big Jim" Delorme (Carol), mom's favourite nephew; Donny Dahl (Barb); Victory Shea (J'aime Shea, Jan Simpson).
Our dad lived a good life and knowing him, could have left us with any number of final farewell messages - 'Love your partner', 'Love your kids', 'Love your dogs', 'Tend to your rose bushes', or 'Be grateful for that one perfect shot you hit in every round of golf''. But there is something else, something a little different but definitely Dallas that we feel he might tell us, his family, friends and any who read this, "Today, when you can make some time, dance with someone you love".
Because right now, somewhere, that's exactly what he's doing; dancing with the love of his life... one more time.
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