We, the children of Bob, have struggled to put into words an announcement of our father’s passing on September 20, 2019 after a short battle with lymphoma. It is no easy feat to try to capture Dad’s legacy in his 84 years, but here goes…
Dad was born the second oldest of 12 children to Stuart “Earl” and Mary Corley during the depression era on the homestead near Kelvington, Saskatchewan. He took on a man’s role at a tender age, as his father was a trapper and often away from home. Perhaps this explains why he grew to be such an intense provider and protector. And yes, he did walk 4 miles to the Treherne Centre School in poor footwear.
He finished school after grade 8 and started cutting pulp in the bush with the Minky boys in 1950 at age 15 by Green Bush Sask. From this he bought a quarter section of land and a 1928 Chev car before he was of age. In 1951 he went to work for the Rudniski brothers near Arnett, Sask. When he was 19, he met their sister Helena, a nurse, and she put a gleam in his eye. He decided to go to the greener pastures of BC to earn some money for marriage and began working for Van Campbell at his sawmill at Loon Lake, becoming lifelong friends. He spoke of choking and sawing lumber with Alan Stadnyk.
By the spring of 1955 he had 3 cars, 2 horses, a John Deere tractor, a truck wagon and his land, so he headed back to Saskatchewan to sell it all, and to court our Mom some more. Returning to BC for the next 2 ½ years, he cleared the woodlot up by the airport for Gateway Lumber. We treasure the pictures of his 21st birthday and his 81st birthday spent up there. For awhile he lived above the Central Café with Jerome Rockvam and speaks fondly of the era of Ducky & Howard dancing in the streets. In 1958 he went home to collect his bride, as he could now provide for her.
In 1959 Dad married Mom in Porcupine Plain, Sask. They moved out to Loon Lake at Ed & Pearl Doherty’s fishing camp, in a trailer that dad built. In 1962, he moved that trailer to where Moritz’s cabins are now, and he went to work for Tino Casadio at Cam Cement. Thereafter he went to Bethlehem Copper for 5 years, where he joked that between Chuck Moore, Dyke Anderson and himself, they batched every yard of concrete used for the building of the mine.
Dad decided to strike out on his own in 1969. Purchasing Tino’s 966C loader, he became Robert Corley Contracting, and thus began building a 40-year legacy of construction work for the mining, highways, and railway industries in all parts of BC. His first year he cleared the bush for the Cache Creek Park and laid the main sewer under the Bonaparte River at the end of Collins Road, risking putting his loader in the river. He "got ‘er done".
Some other interesting work includes digging the basements for the first 7 homes in a North Ashcroft subdivision and widening the bluffs. He dug out Cache Creek Pool and covered up the Ashcroft one. He did extensive road building, from Yale to Barkerville, such as the Duffy Lake road, Kingsway Corner and Gang Ranch Road. He literally moved mountains at times, such as the first corner past Hat Creek and the building of the Pavilion Lime Plant. He was meticulous whether he was excavating & landscaping someone’s yard or an entire townsite, such as what he did for Logan Lake around 1970. He was his own mechanic, welder, and carpenter, building our childhood home in 1964.
He loved Cache Creek, and often donated his time and money to help develop it. With mom by his side, they convinced Dr. Olsen to start up his Veterinary clinic in Cache Creek. Dad skidded a shack on site, and Mom painted it and became his helper for 10 years. He convinced travelling Royal Bank executives to open a branch in Cache Creek. He also helped develop the golf course. He was one of the original buyers of a $100 debenture to help build the hall. He cherished the park, where he developed both baseball diamonds. One Sunday long ago it was a typical day of hard work, where he, Mom and George Benna put up the backstop fence. Dad finally retired at age 75.
Above all he loved the people in his life. His bravely bore his sadness of Mom predeceasing him in 2017. He endured the loss of 5 of his siblings; Rosella (Lorne) Mower, Marie (Harold) Robertson, Dave Corley, Louis (Lois) Corley & Wilbert Corley. His 6 remaining siblings include Ivy (Nipper) Smith, Ida(Bob) Harding, Ken Corley, Harold (Gail) Corley, Eleanor Delisle and Shirley (Malcolm) Rourk.
He had the love and support of his daughters Denise-Lynn Frey and Jacquie McMahon, grandchildren Amy Frey & Chad McMahon, and sons-in-law Dennis Frey and Raymond Johnson. Step grandchildren Clint & Andy Frey, and Mathew, Jennifer, Melanie & Lloyd Johnson. Great grand children George, EJ & Tucker Frey, and James, Clara & Emma Johnson.
His many beloved nieces and nephews all have been so dear to him. While there are too many to name, each of them has their own photo album in our parent’s home (Dad & Mom’s most prized possessions).
We cannot thank his friends & family enough for all that they have done for us during this time. Everything was so greatly appreciated and will be fondly remembered. Thank you to all the people who helped in his journey, including Dr. Adetola; Tami, Tarra & Kiana at the clinic; Diane, Juanita & Lanaray in Home Health; John, Alicia, Irene & Brenda at the pharmacy, and all the physicians & staff at RIH. Above all, the amazing care of all the staff at the Ashcroft Palliative unit and the supportive care of Joan Kealey & her fellow hospice volunteers kept us upright and Dad comfortable during his last few days.
Dad has been interred at the Cache Creek Cemetery. In the spring, our family is planning a celebration of life for both Dad & Mom at their memorial benches at the Cache Creek Park for all to attend.
“There’s No Place Like Home”