In loving memory of Neil Purvis
September 25, 1952 - August 7, 2023
The family of Neil Purvis announces his passing on Monday, August 7, 2023 at the age of 70 at the Ottawa Hospital. Neil leaves behind his cherished wife and life partner of 51 years, Ellen (Meppelder) Purvis. He was the loving father and role model to Jennifer (Purvis) Elia, Sheri (Purvis) Simon, and his sons-in-law, Rob Elia and Matthew Simon.
As a proud Grandpa, Neil shared his heart with Mason Walter Elia (19), Robyn Maris Elia (17), Charles Everett Samuel Simon (12), and Jennifer Katherine Simon (10).
Neil had a large and tightly knit family by birth and marriage. He was a loving friend to his sisters and brothers-in-law, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
When someone as beloved as Neil is lost, the grief ripples far and wide. We invite you to remember him and walk alongside us as we honour his extraordinary life.
Neil’s early years were spent in Junetown, Ontario on the family farm with his parents Walter and Marie (Wilson) and older brothers Don and Bill. He would often tell stories about the Junetown years and was thrilled to recently visit the family homestead. When he was eight, the family moved to Brockville, an idyllic town in the Thousand Islands where 75 Havelock Street became a hub for family and friends over the years. The Purvis boys loved Brockville, particularly the river, and made wonderful memories there with dear friends and family. The family were active members of the 1st Presbyterian Church and owned an Esso Service Station, where Neil worked and learned everything he could about engines. His knowledge and skills acquired there over the years fueled a passion for working on cars, boats, tractors and motorcycles. Neil loved to tinker for hours in the garage fixing engines and restoring a variety of vehicles. He could name any classic car or truck, and explain the tiny details that set one make or model apart from the rest.
Neil’s greatest love was his family. Neil met his bride, Ellen, in May of 1972 and the two would be married later that same year on a snowy December day. Neil and Ellen enjoyed spending time with family and exploring on Neil’s 750 Honda motorcycle. They welcomed their first daughter, Jennifer, in 1974 and in 1977, built a home and eventual hobby farm in Charleville where they spent more than two decades fostering a wonderful family life. It was at this home where “Dr. Neil'' personally delivered a second daughter Sheri in 1978, completing their family. Neil, Ellen, and the girls enjoyed boating and camping in the Thousand Islands, and time at the Purvis family cottage on Bass Lake near Athens. They continued to be active in the church and would have lunch with Marie and Walter following Sunday service. Neil tended to their Charleville home with care, always making sure the pond was plowed for skating and the barn and paddocks were maintained to allow Ellen, Jennifer and Sheri to pursue their love of horses.
In 2000, with the girls off on their own, Neil and Ellen moved to Johnstown where they appreciated views of the St. Lawrence River, passing ships, and Prescott-Ogdensburg bridge. Johnstown brought many happy years as Ellen and Neil established their storage business and got to know many neighbours who would become cherished friends.
Neil could not have been prouder of his girls, who he taught to be kind, compassionate and generous and who both pursued careers in helping professions reflecting the values learned from their father. He was equally proud of his two sons-in-law, Rob and Matthew, and his beloved grandchildren. Neil spent many hours finding ways to entertain and be entertained by Jenna, Charlie, Mason, and Robyn; boat rides and waterskiing at the family cottage on Bass Lake, remote control cars, ATVs, and even a customized ride-on lawnmower were among the projects he shared with the kids. He loved his four-legged companions as well, including the late Shih-Tsu Noel and more recently, Biewer Terriers Missy, Star, and Lady who gave him much joy.
Neil found deep personal reward in his work, and applied both his technical and people skills to a range of jobs over the years. As a young man, he enjoyed helping at his brother Bill’s service station. He then went on to work at several local industrial sites, including Selkirk Metalbestos and Coca-Cola where he handled all aspects of maintenance and property management. The Coca-Cola years were memorable and Neil made lifelong friends; the job suited him well as he was often required to putter around town to find materials that would help him solve one problem or another. When the Coke plant closed in Brockville, Neil supported all aspects of the property’s transfer to new owners before following in Bill’s footsteps to his second career, as a hazardous materials truck driver with the chemical transport companies located at DuPont’s Maitland site. Neil hauled products across North America for more than two decades, training other drivers and making countless friends along the way until his retirement in 2018. In later life, Neil and Ellen built Johnstown Mini-Storage, which was very successful over the years. Neil loved spending time there maintaining the property and getting to know his customers.
Recently retired, Neil and Ellen purchased a motor home in 2022 and planned on doing some travelling around Canada and the United States. Neil was proud of the new home on wheels, and enjoyed inaugural trips to Newmarket and Milton. In September 2022, the family celebrated Neil’s 70th birthday together at a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant, and Neil was delighted to receive a fold up bike to bring on RV adventures. Throughout last summer and fall, Neil was once again riding a motorcycle and was thrilled to have several very dear friends join him for long rides on his vintage Kawasaki.
To know Neil was to love him. He was social, curious, well-read, and warm with an easy smile and contagious laugh. Neil always took the time to get to know people, show an interest in their lives, and offer a helping hand. His superpower was his unique ability to make sure his family, friends, and acquaintances felt heard, seen, and cared for. It’s these attributes that will be dearly missed by so many.
Family and friends are invited to the Irvine Memorial Chapel at Roselawn, 2451 County Road 15, Maitland on Friday, August 18, 2023 from 2-4 & 6-8 p.m. A celebration of Neil’s life will take place on Saturday, August 19th, 2023 at 11 a.m. in the chapel, followed by a reception.
Neil was a passionate advocate for mental well-being. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the mental health charity Unsinkable will be greatly appreciated by the family. Donations may be made online at http://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/unsinkable-ltd/
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