John Allen (Al) Watt died on July 31, 2021 in Guelph, ON at 79 years old. Please share your memories and photos of Al on the Memory Wall (link above). The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the ALS Society of Canada, or the corresponding ALS organization where you live. For your convenience, you can click on the link below which will take you to a donation page set up in Al’s memory-
Donate to ALS in memory of Al Watt
Al Watt was born on August 5, 1941 in Edmonton, AB and spent his first years on the family homestead in Flatbush, AB with his mother, Grace (née Jones), his father John (Johnny) Watt, and his older brother Donald (Don). After the untimely death of his mother when he was 3, his family was split up, and he lived with his maternal aunt, Jean Hinkley, and her 6 children in Vancouver, BC for the next 2 years of his life. Upon his father’s marriage to Anne (née Wilson), Al was reunited with Don and the family lived in Burnaby, BC. From his step-mother Anne, Al also gained two older step-brothers, Harvey and Robert (Bobby) Weiss.
At 17, Al joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as a private and later went through officer training and pursued a career as a Navigator. It was while studying at the Navigation school in Winnipeg, MB that Al memorably met and then married Diane (Di, née Gauthier) in 1968. Al and Di enjoyed 53 years of marriage. Al was a devoted parent to their three children: Cameron (Cam), Alanna, and Graham. Al is survived by his wife Diane, his children, his son-in-law Jesper Sjöström, and daughter-in-law Jennifer Yu-Ling Watt (Jen, née Peng). He is also survived by his 8 grandchildren: Alexis Hand (married to Zachariah (Zach) Hand), Cayden and Aislyn Watt, Sofia and Hugo Watt Sjöström, and Hannah, Elijah, and Naomi (Omi) Watt. He is predeceased by his parents, step-mother, step-brothers, his brothers Don and George (Geordie), and his granddaughter, Ellinor Watt Sjöström.
Al enjoyed a long and satisfying career in the RCAF, flying air crew on DC-3s, Boeing 707s, Hercules, Buffalo, and Dash-8’s. He travelled extensively, and lived across Canada, including multiple stints in Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Comox, BC, as well as in Ottawa, Trenton, and Belleville, ON. Highlights of his career include monthly trips to the Canadian forces base in Lahr, Germany for several years in the 1970’s, two extensive round-the-globe trips, delivering humanitarian aid around the world, and flying Search-and-Rescue. He taught at the Navigation school in Winnipeg early in his career as well as before he retired from the Regular Forces as a Captain, in 1993. He then joined the Reserve Air Force and worked with Air Cadets in Alberta for the next 6 years based in Edmonton (while living in St. Albert, AB).
Upon retirement from the Reserves, Al and Diane embarked upon a new chapter in their lives in their 5th wheel motor home, spending the next 19 winters at Ramblers’ Rest Park in Venice, Florida. This allowed Al to enjoy many of his passions year-round, including exercising, tennis, and swimming. He was an avid skier and enjoyed yearly trips to New Hampshire to ski with friends. During his retirement, he also took up many new pursuits, including cycling, yoga, bocce, and even clowning, which suited Al’s love of children and of making people smile. Who can forget Al’s duck noises, produced anywhere, anytime there was a young child in the vicinity? During summers in Guelph, Al recently enjoyed a new hobby, regularly volunteering to work with his friend Doug, “the Bee Man”, enabling family and friends to enjoy the delicious Ontario honey that Al gifted them.
Al loved sports, and was always eager to play or watch them, from driving his grandchildren to their soccer practices, to cheering for Canada at the Olympics, to attending Wimbledon. At one time, he could be regularly found playing road hockey in front of his house with his sons and their friends. When a neighbourhood kid knocked on the door and discovered that Cam was out, his next question was whether Al would come play with him. Al was an avid follower of hockey, football and tennis in particular, and was a life-long fan of the Edmonton Oilers and the (newly renamed) Edmonton Elks.
Time in Florida each winter allowed Al to have a close relationship with “the Florida grandchildren” Alexis, Cayden, and Aislyn. Al was a devoted grandfather who was actively involved in his grandchildrens’ lives, and was known as “Papa”, or “Morfar” to his different grandchildren. Papa and Baba lived in an “in-laws’ suite” in Graham and Jen’s house in Guelph, ON for the last 17 years, which allowed them to have very close relationships with Hannah, Elijah, and Naomi, sharing breakfast with Naomi every morning for much of her life. “Morfar” or “Morf” and “Mormor” also made regular visits to Alanna and Jesper’s family in Montreal, QC, and were regular attendees at Sofia and Hugo’s birthday parties and graduation ceremonies, big and small.
As members of the Air Force community and the winter “snowbird” community, Al and Diane have dear friends across the continent, and Al loved to travel with family and friends, or to visit them frequently. During their Florida winters, they enjoyed many cruises with friends, as well as memorable trips to Italy, Russia, the Netherlands, Madeira, Portugal, Turkey, Morocco, and their last trip, to Egypt. They enjoyed long visits with their children when they lived abroad, including to China and Thailand (with Graham and Jen), and to the UK and Sweden (with Alanna and Jesper), where they enjoyed canal boats, and hiking in the Cotswolds. Al and Di celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on a Baltic Sea cruise to Turku, Finland doing something that they both loved – dancing – with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. Their time-share allowed the family to gather for family reunions at various locations.
Faith was an important part of Al’s life, and he joined the Catholic church in his thirties as a member of the St. Michael the Archangel parish in Belleville. He and Di continued to be active members of the Catholic church congregations in Comox, Winnipeg (St. Jean Brebeuf parish), St. Albert, and Guelph. In the last decades of his life, Al and Di grew in their Christian beliefs and education, which led to them to join the Calvary Baptist church in Guelph, where he enjoyed and benefited from the community, including bible study and senior social events.
After an active lifetime of service – service to his country, his family and friends – Al was diagnosed with ALS in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout his ALS journey, Diane has been his companion and caretaker, as Al’s motor abilities and health declined. He was also cared for with dedication and love by his son Graham, his daughter-in-law Jen, and his grandchildren, Hannah, Elijah, and Naomi. In his last weeks, thanks to vaccinations and the resulting loosening of pandemic restrictions, Al could finally enjoy time with his children and grandchildren. He died with dignity and peace surrounded by family in his home on July 31, 2021, just 5 days shy of his 80th birthday. He will be deeply missed by family and friends. The family is thankful for the wonderful care he received from numerous doctors, nurses, and personal support workers, and are grateful for the exemplary support provided to Al during this challenging illness by the ALS Society of Canada, and the Office of Veterans Affairs.
Saturday July 31st 2021
Nos plus sincères sympathies à la famille et aux amis de John Al Watt Saturday July 31st 2021..
Décès pour la Ville:Guelph, Province: Ontario