Hon­our­ing a gal­lant sea­man

Fam­ily, Coast Guard pay tribute to the late Capt. Gregory P. Ped­dle

The Compass - - TRIN­ITY SOUTH - BYTER­RY­ROBERTS

The har­bour in Har­bour Grace was thick with fog on Sun­day, Oct. 17 as theCanadian Coast Guard shipSir Wil­fred Gren­fell ap­peared like a ghost out of the haze at around noon.

Much like it did 21 years ago fol­low­ing a dev­as­tat­ing tragedy in the wa­ters off Mid­dle Cove, the ves­sel sounded its horn in a mariner’s salute to Capt. Gregory P. Ped­dle of Til­ton.

Ped­dle was one of three Coast Guard mem­bers who per­ished in their at­tempt to res­cue a diver dur­ing heavy seas on the evening of Oct. 15, 1989. Their fast-res­cue craft over­turned af­ter be­ing hit by a large wave. Ped­dle’s re­mains were never re­cov­ered.

His gal­lantry and de­vo­tion to his fam­ily and the sea was ex­tolled dur­ing a spe­cial me­mo­rial cer­e­mony at Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion Ro­man Catholic Church.

In ad­di­tion to the mariner’s salute, the Capt. Gregory P. Ped­dle me­mo­rial stained glass win­dow was also blessed by Arch­bishop Martin Cur­rie of the Ro­man Catholic Arch­dio­cese of St. John’s.

For Ped­dle’s fam­ily, the recog­ni­tion was long over­due.

“ The sea was his pas­sion,” said Ped­dle’s wi­dow, Barb.

Ped­dle’s 28-year-old son, Gregory, noted that his fa­ther will “ live on in trib­utes like this.”

Ped­dle was born and raised in the com­mu­nity of Til­ton. But the church in Har­bour Grace played an im­por­tant role in his life. It’s where he re­ceived sev­eral of the church’s sacra­ments, and was mar­ried. The cou­ple’s two sons — Gregory and Daniel — were also bap­tized in the church.

And Barb pointed out that it’s fit­ting that the win­dow faces the har­bour.

She added that he would “ burst with joy” to see the “ fine young men” that his sons have be­come.

As for the Sir Wil­fred Gren­fell, Barb said the pres­ence of the ship in the har­bour made her heart swell with pride.

“She will for­ever re­main in our hearts as Greg’s ship,” she said.

Gregory was a driv­ing force be­hind the me­mo­rial ser­vice, and has also launched a fund-rais­ing drive to erect a mon­u­ment to the vic­tims at Mid­dle Cove.

“I think about him every day,” Gregory said dur­ing the ser­vice. “I loved him with my heart and soul.”

Added Daniel: “He was a very hard work­ers. He knew what he wanted in life. But most im­por­tantly, he loved his fam­ily.”“

The su­per­in­ten­dent of Coast Guard op­er­a­tions in this prov­ince, Capt. Brian Pen­ney, was also in at­ten­dance. He spoke very fondly of Ped­dle.

“ We had a very spe­cial friend­ship,” said Pen­ney.

He said “ the thought is al­ways there” each time an emer­gency calls comes in and a fast-res­cue craft is dis­patched.

For Ped­dle’s 81year-old mother, the cer­e­mony brought back mem­o­ries of the worst day of her life. Su­san Ped­dle’s mother, Emily Hutch­ings, passed away mid-morn­ing on Oct. 15, 1989.

Su­san was at the fu­neral home later that evening when a fam­ily mem­ber de­liv­ered the grim news that her son had died.

Los­ing a mother and a son on the same day sent Su­san into a crip­pling shock.

“It was a full year be­fore I re­al­ized what I had lost,” said Su­san.

Those gath­ered at the fu­neral home in Har­bour Grace that evening could look across Con­cep­tion Bay and see the lights as searchers at­tempted to lo­cated the four men lost in the tragedy, re­called Su­san’s sis­ter, Em­mie Neil.

“ They were such young lads at the time,” Em­mie said of her neph­ews, Gregory and Daniel, who were ages 7 and 5 when they lost their fa­ther.

Any­one wish­ing to con­trib­ute to the Mid­dle Cove mon­u­ment can con­tact Gregory at the fol­low­ing e-mail: gped­dle@3Ddat­a­comm.ca

Arch­bishop Martin Cur­rie blesses the Capt. Gregory P. Ped­dle me­mo­rial stained glass win­dow at Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion church in Har­bour Grace on Oct. 11. In the back­ground is Ped­dle’s son, Gregory.

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