Fred Oliver -- Our Founder

Town flags fly at half mast for Fred Oliver

David Lea, Oakville Beaver, Feb 08, 2011


When they made him they broke the mould.

That is what family, friends and colleagues are saying as they remember former Oakville Chief of Police and Ward 2 Town and Regional Councillor Fred Oliver.

Oliver, 87, passed away at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, Saturday, due to complications of pneumonia.

Today, Oliver is being remembered not only as a father, husband and grandfather, but for the countless hours of service he gave to the Oakville community.

“He liked to help people,” said Tom Oliver, Fred Oliver’s son. “He was in a position where, being as high up as he was in the police department, he could get things done for people. He was up there, he felt obligated and he wanted to get things done and he would use any of his resources, any contact he had to help anyone in the community. He enjoyed that type of work.”

Oliver got a taste for police work during the Second World War when he served with the military police.

He joined the Burlington Police Force in 1946 and was appointed Police Chief of Trafalgar Township in 1948. When Oakville and Trafalgar Township amalgamated in 1962 Oliver became the Police Chief of Oakville.

He went on to serve as the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and served on several committees of the International Police Chiefs Association.

Eventually, Oliver moved into community politics and served nearly 25 years as an Oakville Town and Regional councillor.

He founded the Town of Oakville Water Air Rescue Force (TOWARF) in 1954, served 55 years with the Oakville Lions Club and served on the board of governors of the Royal Canadian Golf Association, Sheridan College board and Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital board.

He has also served as president of the Oakville Senior ‘A’ Hockey Club and Chair of the Canadian Open.

While Tom described his father as a quiet, private person, he said, this did not stop Oliver from reaching out to someone in need.

“As kids we’d wake up in the morning at our old house in Bronte and there would be someone sleeping on our couch because he’d found someone who didn’t have a place to go that night,” said Tom.

“Sometimes there would be an extra plate set for dinner, and if dad wasn’t home, yet, we knew he was bringing someone. It could have been a runaway or someone who didn’t have a meal. That’s just the way he was.”

Tom said Oliver’s tireless determination to help the people of his community followed him into his political career. While Oliver never considered himself a politician, he again used every resource available to him to resolve the issues of his constituents.

Tom said his father carried note paper with him wherever he went, so if he suddenly ran into a constituent with a problem he could write it down and deal with it in the future.

Tom speculates his father slept with that note paper. 

Oliver’s daughter-in-law, Linda Oliver, also has fond memories of her father-in-law describing him as a man who was short in stature, but strong in conviction.

Some of Linda’s most recent memories revolve around Oliver’s decision not to run again during the recent municipal election.

“He was so disappointed he had to bow out and take his name out of the running because of the loss of his voice,” said Linda.

“He said, ‘I’m a man of few words, but when I do speak I want to be heard and I can’t be so I have to bow out.’”

Despite retiring from politics, Linda said Oliver’s interest in the community never diminished with her father-in-law attending council meetings, TOWARF meetings and committee meetings as a spectator right up to the end.

In the wake of his loss, Oliver is also being remembered by those he served with on council. At Town Hall, Monday night, flags were flown at half-mast and council observed a moment of silence in Oliver’s memory before beginning the evening’s meeting.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton also spoke about Oliver during the meeting, outlining the unending dedication Oliver had given to the Oakville community over the years.

Ward 2 Town and Regional Councillor Cathy Duddeck also spoke about being partnered with Oliver in the representation of Ward 2.

“I couldn’t have asked for a more caring, generous person in terms of sharing the wealth of his experience and sort of showing me the ropes in my work on council,” she said.

“He had a great sense of humour. He didn’t need to say much, he had a way of cutting through all the red tape and verbiage and said what he needed to say and left it at that.” 

Duddeck said Oliver was constantly running into people who knew him, and she was impressed by how on most occasions he was able to remember their names and the stories behind them.

Duddeck suggested Oliver write a book about his lifetime of experiences in Oakville, to which he jokingly replied, ‘There are a lot of people in town who would pay me not to write that book.’

Ward 3 Town and Regional Councillor Keith Bird, who worked with Oliver for the past 35 years, also reminisced about the type of person he was.

“He was certainly a one-of-a-kind guy,” said Bird. “Fred was one of those individuals who made Oakville the way it is. He’ll be missed.”

Former Oakville Mayor Ann Mulvale was elected to represent Ward 3 along with Oliver in 1980.

She remembers a man who was never afraid to be the only person standing up for an issue.

“You may disagree with him, but his commitment was absolutely solid, motivated by what he genuinely believed was the best outcome for the people he was serving,” said Mulvale.

She said despite his gruff, intimidating voice, Oliver was a real sweetheart inside.

“He had a great gentleness,” said Mulvale. “Despite all that bluster there was a huge softness to Fred Oliver.”

Mulvale said she visited Oliver regularly after he was hospitalized with pneumonia during the weekend of Jan. 29.

These visits would be spent reminiscing about the past. Mulvale said Oliver appeared to be getting better and was in good spirits the last time she saw him on Friday.

“I had no illusions about his frailty, but I thought I would see him again,” she said.

Oliver is predeceased by his first wife Kate Harrod who passed away in 1986.

He is survived by his second wife Irma Repei, his children Tom, Jill, Judy and Jackie and his stepchildren Steve, Judy, Joanne and Erma.

He also leaves 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

A visitation for Oliver will be held at the Kopriva Taylor Community Funeral Home, located at 64 Lakeshore Rd., W., from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9.

A service of remembrance to celebrate Oliver’s life will be held at St. John’s United Church, located at 262 Randall St., at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10.

In lieu of flowers Oliver’s family has said donations to TOWARF or Kerr Street Ministries would be appreciated

Supported by the Town of Oakville and Local Boaters
Unit # 008 of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary

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