The thank yous to Majors Ed and Charlotte Dean have come in different ways – home-made cards, drawings, gifts, social media messages, phone calls and in-person tributes followed by warm handshakes.
“We will miss you” … “Sad to see you go” … “Prince Albert’s gain is Maple Creek’s loss” … “Prince Albert you have gained an amazing team” were some of the Facebook comments.
On Sidney Street School’s Facebook page was a graphic showing an image of Major Ed and Rob Stewart, the principal, handing out ice cream to children.
“Thank you to Major Ed, his family and the Salvation Army for all their support over the years,” the message read. “And thank you for the ice cream treats today!”
The Maple Creek Composite School’s Facebook page contained a photograph of Major Ed standing before the Emergency Disaster Services unit.
“Thank you to the Salvation Army for providing our students with a breakfast program every Tuesday and Thursday this school year,” the message said.
“Good luck to Captain Ed and his family on their future endeavours.”
For two hours on Thursday, June 16, scores of people showed appreciation through a “come and go” strawberry social at the Salvation Army’s Fellowship Hall.
It was an evening of fellowship akin to a gathering of family and friends in a private living room. Present was a wide spectrum of the community, from a school principal, the Chamber of Commerce acting president to church leaders, from seniors to children.
Everyone entering was invited to sign a book and write kinds words about the two Majors. No doubt the book will be a parting gift, and in months and years from now become a reminder of how much the couple meant to Maple Creek.
Majors Ed and Charlotte spent time at each table separately, reminiscing, swapping anecdotes, and looking ahead to their move to Prince Albert on Monday, June 27. Once or twice, they came together to pose for photographs.
Those getting up to go made sure they shook the couple’s hands before disappearing.
It was clear that Majors Ed and Charlotte had left a deep impression on the community.
Last week, Major Ed reflected on 15 years in Maple Creek, which began when he and Charlotte, and two of their three children, Katri and David, arrived from Saskatoon in 2007.
“I was used to country living, but my wife had never lived in the country,” said Major Ed (at the time he was Captain Ed, of course).
“She had always lived in town or a city. When we left Saskatoon, they made a cake, put animals on the cake and labelled them so she would know which animals they were.”
The adjustment to a new, much smaller community than the one they had left was made much easier by Maple Creek’s Salvation Army congregation.
“We had a great congregation,” said Major Ed. “Our predecessors had been here for five years, and our children moved into their children’s rooms. Then we began our ministry.”
Major Ed recalls being approached by the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge.
“The healing lodge asked if we would supervise or have somebody on work release. I remember the first time we had somebody on work release. It was not my first experience with those serving with Corrections, but I remember the day. She was in the building. I said I need to step out for a couple of minutes, and she looked at me said: ‘You trust me in this building?’ I replied, ‘Well, If I can’t trust you, you should not be on the street’. She had been serving 23 years.”
Those relations will be treasured for the rest of our days.