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The Mission City Record, Mission, British Columbia
Frank Proctor Lives On in Print - by Glen Kask

When Frank Proctor died earlier this year one of the pews in All Saints Anglican Church was left vacant during his funeral. That pew was for Frank's angels who had looked after him during his long life.

The story of that life is told in Frank's autobiography I Was There. The book was started by Frank in 1981 when he was 79 years old but it was not published until after he died. His family completed the publishing of the 290 page book as a tribute to the man who charmed those around him and who was a fixture in Mission for more than half a century.

Frank grew up in a coal mining town in England and left school when he was 14. Only seven grades of schooling were offered at the time but students could not leave school until they were 14. But World War I intervened and he was able to leave school to take a job in the coal mines.

He found various labouring jobs and eventually answered an advertisement to travel to Canada to help with the prairie harvest. He was given free passage to Canada, miserly, and the promise of a free return passage to England if he worked for a month. He found the work, near Regina, Saskatchewan, hard but satisfying, and he decided to stay in Canada.

Then he met and married Anne.

Frank's career took a new direction with the impending World War II. He enlisted and was soon assigned to the Quartermasters Corp. He was responsible for feeding, clothing, equipping and housing the troops. He learned to account for everything and worried about both the quality and quantity of food provided to Canadian soldiers, but he did the best to keep his men supplied.

He was eventually shipped to England where he took part in the D-Day invasion, three years after he enlisted to help Canada's war effort. The book tells of his part in the assault on the beaches and in liberating Europe.

After the war Frank stayed in the army to help process the discharge soldiers and to account for all the supplies which had been issued during the war.

In 1947 the Proctor family moved to Mission, just in time to help with the rescue efforts during the 1948 Fraser River flood.

He had no job so created one for himself becoming a chimney sweep, window washer and building cleaner.

In school Frank had enjoyed drawing and painting, and in later life produced more than 400 oil paintings. His work is now displayed throughout the world.

I Was There suffers the weakness common to many amateur writers who want to tell their life story. He has hundreds of stories to tell and tries to pack them all into one book. In doing so he whets the interest of the reader, only to gloss over the details that leaves the reader wanting more.

His most powerful writing comes when he goes into considerable detail about limited incidents. His section on the D-Day invasion is captivating and gives insight into the trauma soldiers suffered in the face of enemy fire.

Many people say they will write the story of their life, but Frank Proctor has actually done so. That's a rare accomplishment.


I Was There

Frank Proctor

Edited by
William N Tindall & Pamela Proctor

Published by tmi Publications, Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada

email: tmi Publications

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