November 12, 1950 – March 18, 2021
The saddest part about getting old is losing lifelong friends you went to school and played sports with. Fifty five years of history gone. Poof. Craig “Torgy ” Torgeson was a fellow North Star Junior Ski Racer and just about the nicest person you could know. Torgy, as we called him, was pretty tall for a skier but very coordinated which offset his tall frame. As I was a bit older and actually had a driver’s license, I drove our Kimberley team to ski races in the Kootenays.
Torgy would sit in the front seat, and we had some great conversations about life. I think he was about 14 or 15 years old then, and told me very matter of factly, he was going to be a pilot. Life is all about opportunity, and when Craig was six years old, he had to have a heart operation. Flying from Cranbrook, to Vancouver, the Pilot had Torgy up in the cockpit for most of the trip. That experience had such a profound effect on young Craig, he set his sights on being an airline pilot and never wavered from that. Craig went to Mount Royal College to get his pilot’s licence, then flew out of Yellowknife and Inuvik, getting flying hours wherever he could. He joined Air Canada in Montreal in 1978 and his life’s dream really took off.
Craig met his wife Natalie, who also worked for Air Canada in Airport Operations and Baggage, in 1988. Natalie and Torgy travelled extensively during their careers and certainly experienced an exciting life together until Craig’s health issues grounded them.
He retired as a Captain for Air Canada on the Boeing 767, having flown to many places around the World.
The heart issues that Torgy experienced at age six were resolved by that first operation, but other cardiac and lung conditions developed over the course of his life. He successfully battled bladder cancer as well though he suffered from permanent side effects of the chemotherapy that was meant to treat it. Craig’s medical condition became very complex. In the end, it was lung issues that landed him in his final trip to the hospital, but a stroke that led to his final breath on March 18th at age 70.
I coached the North Star Racers with Ritchie Smith the winter our coach unexpectedly moved to Sweitzer Basin in Idaho. A few things I vividly remember about that season of 1968, was Craig Torgeson had a younger brother named Dyne who was completely fearless on the Dreadnaught Downhill – and i mean zero fear – ice water in that kid’s veins. Craig Torgeson really took to the event Giant Slalom. Back then in 1960s Kimberley, everybody knew everybody. Don Torgeson, their father, was the City of Kimberly Administrator, and skied with my Dad Tony quite a bit. I always liked adults who had time for me, so I liked Don Torgeson, a kind man with a nice smile.
Every time I went to the Grill Cafe in Kimberley on Spokane Street to borrow two dollars from my Dad, Milo Fabro, Wilf Mason, Dickie Bova, Bill Bilko Copeland, Fred Holmes, Gary Holmes , Ralph Redding , Don Torgeson, Russ Lytle and Tony would be sitting discussing events of the day Kimberley and Cominco . Don Torgeson always had a nice way about him. Kimberley was the quintessential small town back in the 1960s and 70s. Certainly when adults are kind to you, it leaves an impression.
Don passed away in 1993, and his wife Muriel followed him in 2004.
Craig’s brother Dyne is in Victoria B C. His sister Donna a retired RN is also in Victoria. Natalie, now retired from Air Canada, is at their home near Montreal.
One of the most genuine, and sincere guys you could ever meet, that was Craig ” Torgy ” Torgeson, my ski buddy, gone too soon.