Spinks families have served at Ponoka Hospital – Reflections of Ponoka

Blythe and David Spink Jr. are shown in their Ponoka Military Reserve uniforms in the 1960s.

Blythe and David Spink Jr. are shown in their Ponoka Military Reserve uniforms in the 1960s.

There have certainly been many great stories to be told and memories to be shared over the years by the ongoing members of the always active Spinks family of Ponoka.

After immigrating to Canada from the old country in 1928, David Spinks Sr. settled and married in central Alberta, later moving to Ponoka, where son David Jr. and his wife Blythe would later raise their four children. Together they have proudly carried on a tradition that has seen a member of the family serving on the staff of the Centennial Centre for over 80 illustrious years.

David Spink Sr. was born on July 4, 1904 at St. Vigins (Auchmithie), Scotland, and set out for Canada on May 6, 1928. Edna Mable Daily was born on Aug.3, 1902 in Porter, Minn., and then came to Holden, Alta. in 1904, where she later met and married David Spink Sr. and settled in the Lacombe area. David Spink Jr. was born on Nov. 10, 1932 and was joined later by his sister, Margaret.

The elder Spink joined the staff of the Provincial Mental Hospital at Ponoka, where he would serve for 38 years as an Approved Male Nurse, which also included his service time in the armed forces. Edna also worked on the nursing staff of the hospital for three years. This jolly gentleman was always very well known for his annual Christmas morning visits as Santa, bringing gifts to all the wards of the hospital for many decades. After very active lives at work or at play with their children and extended families, Edna passed away in Lacombe on Dec. 3, 1977 and Dave Sr. on Nov. 2, 1991 in Edmonton.

David Spink Jr. has many fond memories of his childhood years here in Ponoka, where he attended grades 1 to 11 at the historic Red Brick School, then graduated from Grade 12 at the Pink School in June 1951.As a young lad he loved delivering 70 daily copies of the Edmonton Journal and Bulletin all around town on his bike from 1944-48 for a cent a paper. He would walk to school every day, but occasionally hitched a ride with the team of horses that travelled daily downtown from the hospital farm to pick up the mail.

In 1950, Dave received an Air Cadet Flying Scholarship and would achieve his pilot’s license at the Calgary airport long before he had his driver’s license. Between 1948 and 1970 he really enjoyed working full- or part-time as a clerk at George and Hap Hinkley’s classic Riverside grocery store, then in the winter evenings he sold admission tickets at the thrilling home games of the Ponoka Stampeders. Dave would graduate from Mount Royal College in 1954 after one year of training in business administration; many times having to hitchhike back and forth from Ponoka to attend the classes.

1954 was a very good year for Dave Spink Jr. as he began his 34-year career in office and administration at PMH, as well as marrying his sweetheart, Miss Blythe Olive Walker on July 15 at the First Baptist Church in Ponoka. David was always very passionate about furthering his career opportunities, receiving certificates in personal administration in 1981 and occupational health and safety in 1985, both from the University of Alberta. He also completed various courses with the RCAF St. John’s Ambulance and justice of the peace programs.

His ongoing employment at the hospital was interesting to say the least, starting as a clerk typist (perpetual inventory), then steadily climbing the ladder of success as a payroll supervisor, assistant director of personal, acting director of personnel, safety officer, and loss control officer.

Dave Spink vividly recalls going through the difficult transition from the ledgers to the computer age, and fondly remembers some of the great team members he worked with such as Bert Service, G.A.F. Jones, Georgina King, Alberta Watt, Evelyn Wilson, Peter Hazelbower, Tom Stack, Irene Schantz, Jack McIntosh, Ernie Hickmore and many others.

Blythe Olive Walker (Spink) was born and raised in the Pigeon Lake area, and while later working full-time and raising a family of four, she would be determined to complete her high school studies by correspondence through the Athabasca University. Blythes’s countless vocations and dedications over the years included babysitting, a waitress at the Morningside Café, the AHP dietary and occupational therapy departments, sales lady at Sears catalogue office, and as a switchboard operator at the hospital.

With sheer determination and hard work she would achieve a school of medication degree from the U of A in 1976 then went on to complete the Alberta Hospital Psychiatric Nursing program the same year, received her RN degree from Red Deer College in 1978, and a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the U of A in 1983. After nursing for many years on various units at the Alberta Hospital, she retired in 1990 and worked at the Northcott Nursing Home for two years.

Along the way both David and Blythe were very active in their community, as well as raising their rambunctious family of daughters Elaine (Brown), Audrey (Pope), Linda (Ritchie) and son, John. Both John and Linda continue to carry on the Spink tradition as staff members at the Centennial Centre, and along the way the busy family has also been blessed with six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Dave Jr. was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #65 Air Cadet Squadron from 1944 to 1950, achieving the rank of sergeant, then later joined the RCAF reserve, as well as receiving officer rankings of second lieutenant, commanding officer and chairman of the civilian committee. He has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Ponoka branch for 40 years, played in the Ponoka Town Band in the 1950s, and served in positions with the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers, St. John’s Ambulance, and as a justice of the peace from 1978 to 1986. Dave has also been a longstanding member of the board of the local halfway house and the manager of Community Subsidized Housing Units.

Blythe served as a corporal in the Army Reserve 22 Medical Company until 1965, was past president of the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary, and is a 35-year member of the local Branch #66. The happy couple has been very active members of the Ponoka Church of the Open Bible for many years, and as time allowed they loved to travel throughout the world, as well as pampering their grandchildren and enjoying their many hobbies.

A later illness would result in Blythe’s admittance into the Northcott Lodge, where Dave faithfully visits daily. He also enjoys reading, watching television, auditing a few books, and dabbling in history at the palatial 46 avenue bungalow that has been their family home for 46 years.