Archie Londry trained pilots during the Second World War, was a leader in the cattle industry and the driving force behind a memorial in Brandon dedicated to British Commonwealth Air Training Plan members who died fighting for freedom.
Londry died Nov. 13 at the age of 97.
A longtime volunteer and founding member of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Londry saw to the creation of the Royal Canadian Air Force Second World War Memorial at Brandon Municipal Airport.
The statue of a young pilot overlooks granite blocks that list the names of 19,286 British Commonwealth Air Training Plan members who died during the Second World War.
Londry knew many of the names on the list.
"He worked hard, always, and he expected others around him to work hard also," his son, Dave Londry, said in an interview from Surrey, B.C.
Dave was the only child in the family.
Although he was involved in many things, including 4-H, sitting on the boards of many cattle associations and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Londry was never far from home, Dave said.
"He was always an attentive father, and he was always available."
Archie William Londry was born on April 5, 1922, in Minnedosa.
According to the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 2002, Londry attended school at Willow Grove, McBride and Minnedosa High School and was a member of the Boys’ and Girls’ Club, the forerunner of 4-H.
Londry worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway for eight years, drove mules and horses, fired steam engines and flew aircraft before he began farming.
Following the war, in 1946, he married the love of his life, Winona Horner, and they moved to a farm near the No. 10 highway north of Rapid City. The red barn visible from the highway has been the subject of many photographs over the years.
Winona died in 2000.
Londry quit farming in 2007 and two years later moved to Brandon, where he was living at the time of his death.
Londry was a force in the cattle-ranching industry and served as a president of the Hereford Association, the Simmental Association and the Manitoba Cattle Breeders Association.
He influenced the cattle industry, raising bulls for three generations of local cattle producers.
He judged at provincial, national and international shows and showed cattle during exhibitions at the Keystone Centre for 68 consecutive years, except for his time as a flight instructor during the war.
Londry was also a life member of both the Minnedosa Agricultural Society and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #138 in Minnedosa.
In 1992, he was awarded the Legion Meritorious Service Medal and also received the Palm Leaf — the highest honour that can be bestowed on a member.
"He was quite a fellow," said Wayne Mansell, first vice-president of the Minnedosa legion.
"Archie was probably the best service officer the legion has ever had."
Service officers worked on behalf of veterans who were having difficulties on various issues with Veterans Affairs.
"He looked after many different vets," Mansell said.
"He was a hard worker. He didn’t give up. If he thought he was right, he would not give up."
Londry’s portrait graces one of dozens of banners Minnedosa placed on lampposts around town to honour the community’s veterans.
Londry was also board chairman of the Hunterville United Church for more than 25 years and of the Minnedosa and Area Wider Parish.
He was passionate about youth, coaching baseball teams, instructing a Youth Hunter Safety Program and helping 4-H judging teams while leading the Rapid City Beef Club for more than 15 years.
"It’s such a loss," said Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum executive director Stephen Hayter, adding Londry was the last of the group of veterans in Manitoba still associated with the air training plan.
"Archie was a fixture at the museum almost from the beginning," Hayter said. "Because he was an instructor, he was someone who you felt you had a direct connection with that time period."
According to a biography provided by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Londry was the only son in his family.
In 1941, he enlisted in Winnipeg with the Royal Canadian Air Force and was sent to the Edmonton manning pool.
From Edmonton, he was transferred to the Initial Training School in Regina and was then sent to Virden for elementary training school for pilots. It was in Virden that he learned to fly the Tiger Moth.
After completing his training there, Londry was sent to Dauphin for service flying training school. There, he learned how to fly Cessna aircraft. He graduated and was posted as a flying instructor.
After receiving his posting, the young pilot was sent to Brandon for another month of training.
He stayed in Brandon as a flying instructor until the end of the war.
Londry had been posted for duty overseas in the Japanese theatre, but the war ended before he was sent over.
While Londry always lamented that he never got to go overseas during the war, "it was his training that made it possible for so many of those young men to survive the horror that they were faced with," Hayter said.
"He was a fascinating gentleman."
Museum president John McNarry said he always enjoyed the times he spent with Londry and the stories he was glad to share.
One story in particular that stands out is the time Londry was flying in a twin-engine training aircraft with a group of students when both engines died and they were forced to crash land in the Carberry sandhills.
Fortunately, everyone walked away safely.
McNarry said Londry was also a founding member of the museum’s foundation that raises money to keep the operation afloat and he was a tireless worker.
"It was an absolute pleasure and honour to have known him."
A service is planned for the spring.