Thousands say goodbye to ‘Mr. Arnprior’

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

ARNPRIOR – More than 600 people attended the public memorial service for Glenn ‘Archie’ Arthur Sunday (Feb. 25) afternoon on the chilly ice pad in the arena that bears his name, and even more watched the livestream of the service at home, getting one final chance to say goodbye to Mr. Arnprior.

It was part of a joyous farewell to a man who not only worked for the town for 36 years as its very popular recreation director, but a man who never said no to a worthy cause. Arthur passed away Feb. 16 at 72 years old.

A photo of a large group of people at a funeral.
A rough estimate of more than 600 people attended the service in honour of an honoured town employee and longtime volunteer. Photo by Jake Davies

Eulogist Jerry Jordan referred to his lifelong friend as the inaugural member of the ‘Save the World Gang,’ an informal group of friends who made more plans to save the world around Arthur’s fire pit, than executed, but a group of volunteers always at the ready to lend a hand for any town project Arthur was working on. Which was usually many.

While hundreds attended the service in person, according to reports, another roughly 1,200 watched the livestream of the service and 600 joined the reception following the service, catered and hosted by several Arnprior not-for-profit service organizations, pretty much all of them benefitting from Arthur’s work over the years.

Arthur’s casket was rolled down the centre of the Glenn Arthur Arena, fitting for a man who loved hockey so much. And if you were in attendance, you didn’t have to guess the Toronto Maple Leafs were his favourite team.

The attendees included friends and family, grandchildren all wearing hockey jerseys with the name Arch emblazoned on the back. Every politician from the Town of Arnprior was in attendance as well as politicians from McNab-Braeside and former politicians over the years. Arthur worked for seven different mayors while working for the town.

“I once asked Arthur if he was ever going to run,” Jordan said. “He said, ‘yes, the other way.’”

Friends of all ages were in attendance. Many who remember Arthur when they were young, always providing them with a little extra ice time, or other hockey opportunities.

A photo of people in hockey jerseys at a funeral.
Arthur’s grandchildren wore hockey jerseys with the name ‘Arch’ emblazoned on the back. Photo by Jake Davies

Andre Pilon, who’s family business hosted the service, knew Arthur for decades, and kicked off the service with a few words following the singing of the national anthem.

“A man who has born many names and titles over the year,” Pilon said, overtaken by emotion during his speech. “But now he is being remembered as a legend. He accepted us all at face value. Glenn Arthur never hesitated. He wasn’t afraid of failing. We are all grieving today. How he shaped, formed and changed so many lives is countless. He was funny, loving and so very, very kind. Everyone was welcome at Glenn and Kathy’s house. This man who died three times and was brought back to life each time, we thought would live forever. He left the world a better place, whether it be teaching a child to dance, changing municipal policy or fundraising for any worthy cause.”

The family asked Jordan to present the eulogy, a lifelong friend who was the perfect person to tell the story of how an Almonte native would grow up to be known as Mr. Arnprior.

Jordan wanted to keep the memorial light.

“Glenn liked to have fun,” he said. “That’s what he would have wanted here.”

But even Jordan would be challenged to not let his emotions get the best of him, stopping to sniffle several times during his eulogy, blaming the cold of the arena (the ice was still in, just below a rubber cover laid down on the rink) for his sniffles.

Jordan asked all the goalies in attendance to stand up, which of course there were several, and Arthur himself was a longtime goalie until heart issues forced him to retire from the sport.

Jordan told a story of a young Glenn chucking eggs at a police cruiser in Almonte on Hallowe’en.

At the end of the chase, “you got me,” was all Arthur could say to the local police.

Jordan gave a long list of events including national hockey, ringette and even broomball tournaments, Arthur brought to Arnprior as well as many others. The list was near endless.

“One of his greatest talents was getting volunteers,” Jordan said, and then asked anyone who ever volunteered for an Arthur-led event to stand up.

That included almost everyone in attendance.

“He was the Pied Piper of volunteers,” Jordan said. “He told me the key to getting volunteers. You have to listen to them and their ideas. He had a big heart.”

After a couple of on-ice heart attacks, Arthur led the charge to get Arnprior public buildings outfitted with defibrillators.

Jordan said Arthur loved golf, hockey, pit fires, the Maple Leafs, the Hamilton Tiger Cats and St. Patrick’s Day in Douglas.

A photo of people at the service.
Several current and former Ottawa Valley politicians attended the service including Arnprior Mayor Lisa McGee. Photo by Jake Davies

“Again, no stories,” Jordan said of the popular St. Patrick’s Day spot that no longer exists. “He would want us to remember him with a smile on your face and a chuckle in your heart. A trusted friend to youth and adults. Here’s to Archie, a friend who lived life with a twinkle in his eye. Rest in peace dear friend. He was the greatest of all.”

Following the speeches, the pallbearers took the Toronto Maple Leaf jersey-covered casket back to the  hearse waiting at the back of the ice pad while those in attendance cheered and applauded.

A reception was held in the Nick Smith Centre hall, a place Arthur could be constantly found, usually working the bar for whatever event was happening at the recreation centre that weekend.

“Such an amazing tribute,” Arnprior Coun. Chris Couper said. “The applause and cheers for Archie as he left the Glenn Arthur Arena was something.”

“This was a memorable tribute to an icon of the Town of Arnprior,” Coun. Dan Lynch said.

While hundreds attended in person (and West Carleton Online hears hundreds more attended the visitation at the Pilon Funeral Home), even more watched the livestream of the memorial service.

“Watched from home and it was an incredible send off for our Mr. Arnprior,” Arnprior resident Sandra Elliot said. “Many thanks to the Town of Arnprior, the many service clubs and volunteers who put this together. Glenn would have loved the cheers and whistles but might have been a tad embarrassed. The Arthur Family must be so incredibly proud of this man, and you know we all offer our condolences. Kathy, you were his rock. I didn’t know you, but he said at a meeting once when chatting, ‘My wife and I married young and we grew up together and raised a family.’ You sure did.” 

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