In August, the community lost one of its most dedicated supporters with the passing of Orville Thertell.
Orville found many ways to serve: as a member of the Lions’ Club, and a Lifetime member of both the Millbrook Cavan Firefighters’ Association and the Millbrook Agricultural Society. He was the go-to electrician in the area, particularly for the farming community. Growing up on a farm in Kendall just south of Millbrook gave Orville a keen understanding of the distress a farmer feels when they can’t deliver water to their animals or heat to the barn during a freeze.
According to his fellow firefighters, it was hard to beat Orville to a crisis: his pager was always on and he would respond to calls for help immediately. Despite this dedication, there was never any doubt that his true priority was always his wife Cindy, their three children and their grandchildren. The closeness of this couple was reflected in devastating cancer diagnoses they received within days of each other in 2019, followed by a cancer-free celebration later that year where they rang the cancer-free bell one week apart. Unfortunately for Orville, the result would not hold.
Despite his dedication to the community, it was not all work for Orville. He was happiest touring around on snowmobiles or ATV’s with his family. He had a fleet of vehicles of all sizes to ensure even the youngest could participate.
Orville did not seek the limelight, but occasionally it found him. In 2011, he was recognized for his volunteer fire fighter service with a Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal from then Governor General of Canada, David Johnston.
Throughout his extended fight with cancer, this quiet, stoic man maintained a positive, up-beat attitude, never giving any indication of the severity of his battle despite the visible toll it was taking. He was a helper, not a recipient of help.
A few weeks ago, he suggested that he would be open to participating in his own Celebration of Life. At a quickly organized event, almost 300 friends and family gave Orville some well-deserved recognition at a party where he was the star attraction.
To paraphrase the words of a few of his many admirers, our world has been better because of him. He is someone who has done more for this community than we’ll ever know. Thank you, good friend. KG