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T. Melvin Forbrigger

T. Melvin  Forbrigger T. Melvin  Forbrigger

Born In: Point Tupper, Nova Scotia, Canada
Born: August 10th, 1934

Passed in: Evanston, Nova Scotia, Canada
Passed on: April 6th, 2012

On April 6, 2012, Thomas Melvin Forbrigger died peacefully at the Strait Richmond Hospital in Evanston, with his wife of 51 years beside him.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease claimed his life but not his spirit. Melvin died as he had lived, bravely, uncomplainingly and always mindful of the feelings of others.
Born in the family home, overlooking the Strait of Canso in Point Tupper on Aug. 10, 1934, Mel was the cherished son of Nina (O’Hearn) and William J. Forbrigger, the fourth child in a family of eight.
After attending Point Tupper School, Mel entered the workforce while still a teenager. He worked on the construction of the Canso Causeway and was employed by Canadian National Railway for 17 years. He held a variety of positions, including brakeman and bridge and building employee. During the years of industrial expansion in the Strait area, he worked as a carpenter on many building sites, including the Gypsum Shipping Depot, the pulp and paper mill and Centennial School.
In 1970, he became a permanent employee of the local pulp and paper mill where he remained until retirement. Melvin was there on that fatal day, Feb. 8, 1982, when an explosion ripped through the building in which he and Alfred Richard were working high up on scaffolding. Calmness in times of difficulty and ingenuity in solving problems, were traits of Melvin’s which stood him in good stead. Under dire circumstances, in thick blackness and at great personal risk, Melvin was able to get Alfred down from the heights in which they were working and led him through the gas-filled darkness until reaching a spot where Mel broke through gratings, finding some fresh air that helped them to breath through the poisonous gasses. The grateful Richard family personally honoured Melvin, “for a most courageous deed in saving the life of Alfred Richard in the explosion at Nova Scotia Forest Industries.”
Melvin was an active community member, always ready to lend a hand to help others. In his younger days, he served as a Point Tupper School trustee, coached minor hockey, fundraised for a new hall at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church and served on the executive of the Strait of Canso Yacht Club.
Melvin always loved spending time on the water and in his youth excelled as a dory oarsman. He spent many happy hours sailing in the area aboard his father’s ship, the Wawaloon, and later plied the local waters in his own boats.
In the last years of his life, when no longer able to be so active, he took great pleasure in gazing across the harbour from the window of his home. There he could watch the comings and goings of ships at SuperPort Marine and marvel at the fine accomplishments of “young MacIntyre.”
In retirement, Melvin also continued to enjoy the companionship of fellow union members when they met each Wednesday at the hall of CEP Local 972 for conversation and cards, tea and lots of stories and laughter.
Melvin’s greatest and most lasting contribution to the Strait area was the restoration of the Point Tupper/Sunnyside Church and its conversion to an area museum. A founding member of the Point Tupper Heritage Association, Melvin immediately saw the potential in the derelict building when most people were still scoffing at the idea it could be saved. Upon retirement, he oversaw the restoration project, dedicating eight hours of work, five days a week, until its completion. Melvin took great satisfaction in seeing the restored church designated a Richmond County Municipal Heritage Building.
A devoted family man, he was married to Lorena “Rena” Bethel and broke the stereotype of the absentminded male, by never once forgetting their wedding anniversary. He was father to Robert, Lorena (Greg Brophy) and David (Joanna Wine) Forbrigger, each of whom enriched his life immeasurably. He was like a father to his niece, Melodi Letcher and loved her as he did his own. Carol Digout, Joanna Wine and Tram Chau were all special people in his life, brightening each day in which he saw them. Melvin’s unreserved love was showered upon his grandchildren, Zara, Michael, Nathan and Shayla. A very special spot in his heart was reserved for grandson, Jason Robert Forbrigger, who died in infancy. Jason was remembered by Melvin everyday in his prayers and the hopes of being reunited with his grandson sustained Mel at the moment of his death.
During his final illness, Mel’s days were made brighter by the frequent visits of his siblings, who showed their compassion for him in so many useful ways. He is survived by sisters, Frances (Don MacDonald), Thelma Forbrigger and Jeannette Rizzuto; brothers, Stanley, Robert (Carmel) and Michael (Joan); very special brother-in-law, Bill Ganshirt.
Melvin was predeceased by his sister and soulmate, Pauline Ganshirt and beloved sister-in-law, Beryl (Smith) Forbrigger.
Melvin was welcomed home to the Strait Richmond Hospital by doctors, Collins and Pluta, along with the nurses and staff members.
He was happy to be close to his Point Tupper home, in a place where he was provided with dignified and respectful palliative care. The concern of the staff for Melvin’s well being was gratefully noted by his family.
In accordance with Melvin’s wishes, cremation has taken place and a private graveside burial will occur at a later date in Southbrook Cemetery, under the care of Dennis Haverstock Funeral Home, Port Hawkesbury.
On Saturday, April 28, from 7-10 p.m., friends of Melvin’s are invited to join the family at the CEP union hall on Reeves Street, Port Hawkesbury, for a celebration of life, where we can share, over a cup of tea, memories of a much loved individual.
Memorial donations to the charity of one’s choice are welcomed, or if one wishes, donations may be made to the building fund of Point Tupper Heritage Association for the purpose of adding a basement to the church/museum.
Words of comfort may be forwarded to the family at www.haverstocks.com.


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