John E. Houlgate |

John E. Houlgate

1925 – 2016

Born to Constance and Edwin Houlgate, March 4, 1925 on Bow Farm in Senlac, Saskatchewan. The farm was homesteaded by his London born grandparents in 1906 and remained in the family for 110 years. John passed away March 15, 2016.

John, or “Jack” as he was known to family and friends grew up on the family farm in a remote part of the Saskatchewan prairie. As a boy, in the sub-zero temperatures found there, he had to break the ice off of the ponds every other day so that the cattle could drink. The trip to school was either on horseback or in a sleigh. The prairie radio allowed Jack to enjoy country greats such as Bob Wills and Hank Williams on those long cold nights. As a teen he spent many winters

living away from the farm, in Calgary, with family friends. This allowed him to receive the best education available.

In 1943, at age 18 after one year of university Jack spent the summer of 1943 working on the Alaska Canada Highway in the Yukon. It was hard work, but a wonderful adventure for a young man. He often told stories of the ever present howling wolves and mosquitos the size of small birds. The deprivations were offset by the large and abundant fish caught there. Jack graduated from the University of Alberta, Edmonton in 1946 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. While at university Jack was a member of the RCAF University Air Training Corp. Upon graduation, Jack went on to receive a Masters in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley in 1948. While at Berkeley he met his wife, Bonnie Dolores Coats, and they were married August 3, 1948. Jack and Bonnie were devoted to each other and their marriage lasted for over 66 years until Bonnie’s death in 2015. After graduating from UC Berkeley Jack and Bonnie moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma to work for Continental Oil Company. They missed the good life in California so they returned to the Bay Area where Jack worked for Clements Construction Company. His work involved managing the paving of highways in Northern California. Bonnie and their four young children would often accompany him on these jobs and the whole family spent many summers in out-of-the-way places. Around this same time Jack received his pilot’s license and purchased a Cessna 195 fulfilling his lifelong dream of flying.

In 1958 Jack moved his family to Truckee in order to manage the Clement’s Rock Products plant that would supply material for the building of Interstate 80. While living in Truckee Jack was very active in the community. He was President of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport District Board from 1960 to 1968 and one of the people instrumental in the airport being built. On July 28, 1962 Jack’s Cessna 195 N9830A, piloted by him, was the first airplane to land at the Truckee-Tahoe

Airport. Flying was a passion and his family spent many hours in the Cessna with him. In later years Jack earned his instrument license and owned a twin engine Comanche. Jack was a member of the Civil Air Patrol and flew on many search and rescue flights.

In addition he was a member of the Nevada County Grand Jury, president of the Truckee Lions Club, a Mason and a Shriner. He was a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.

While living in Truckee Jack designed and built the family home. The doors were always open to anybody and everybody. He gave his family a love of the outdoors with camping and backpacking and hunting and fishing trips and entertained his children with old cowboy camp songs. He was a skier and he could yodel. More than once a skier on the slopes was caught off guard by a yodel coming from Jack as he was riding up the ski lift. Jack also skied down Interstate 80 before it

was opened to the public. He was incredibly talented and could repair anything and solve any problem. He was an accomplished wood worker.

In 1974 Jack retired and he and Bonnie moved to Vancouver, BC to be closer to his family. In 1988 Jack and Bonnie returned to California to live in Santa Rosa so that they might be near their grandchildren. Most importantly, Jack was a man of great honesty and integrity and old fashioned manners. He was devoted to his family and friends and would do anything for them.

Jack was predeceased by his wife, Bonnie, and a son, Reagan. He is survived by his sister Eileen in Vancouver, Canada, his children, Cam (Mary) Houlgate, Ryan (Pat) Houlgate, Nola (Tom) Lundy, his grandchildren, Derek Lundy, Dane Lundy, Leah (Manu) Fernandez de Cordoba, Grant and Austin Houlgate. He is also survived by his godson, Keith Sutton, and the young people whom he and Bonnie befriended and cared for as though they were members of the family, Susan Gill, Pam

Williams, Lexi Ward, George Franceschini and longtime close friend, Robert “Bob” Sutton.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.