Dennis Norman Parford
November 23, 1925 – December 2, 2002.
Tribute To DENNIS NORMAN PARFORD…… Wilbur Walrond
Dennis Norman Parford was born on November 23, 1925 in Woodford, Essex, England. During World War 11, he was apparently too young to go to war but old enough to serve in the Home Guard.
Following the war, he pursued a career in watch repairs, through vocational training and this finally gained him employment with the Rolex Co. in England and subsequently specialized training in Geneva for 2 years.
This was just the beginning of his world travels, as he soon found himself seconded to the Borneo Company in Singapore where he opened their Service operation – the first ever of its kind –for which he hired and trained the staff in Rolex watch repairs.
It was in Singapore that he first got his feet wet, when in 1950 he became a member of the Royal Singapore Yacht and Rowing Club eventually becoming an avid and accomplished sailor and rower. His teams won many trophies as he indulged himself in many pleasurable races around the island. Unknown to many he was an accomplished amateur Pugilist judging by the many medals he won.
While on home leave in England, he married Pamela in November 1953 and they returned to Singapore in 1954. That union increased the population by 4- 3 daughters Denise, Viki, and Geri and son Simon. In 1972 (and again a few years later) he married Ardele and they had one daughter, Sloan.
In 1957, the family immigrated to B.C. and settled in Richmond, where Dennis established the well-respected firm of Parford’s Gold & Silversmiths. This was to be his second ‘Service Operation’ as it proved to be the eventual training ground for all of his children and by no better teacher than the Maestro himself.
In 1971 he joined the Rotary Club of Richmond and served as its Vice President in 1979.
He is after all the only person that I know of who was the principal actor in 4 great wedding performances having a cast of three brides, a feat surpassed only by another great – Elizabeth Taylor.
I am quite sure that even today these starring partners, as well as the two generations of offspring derived there from, all still love him in their own personal way as they did when the cameras first rolled for them, and in particular his dear wife Ellen whom he married on September 11, 1999 and who was his leading lady in his final though probably more mellow performance in his Silver years -“ His Last Hurrah!”
Nevertheless in spite of what may seem to have been conflicting traits and I am sure we all have the same phenomena, but maybe to differing degrees, there is another very special trait that Dennis possessed - he would always make you laugh and no matter what he said to you or how he said it, or what ever it was that he did or didn’t do, you would always love him. He was in some ways, I guess, a Diamond in the rough.
It was his ability to make you quickly feel at ease around him and that knack of making you laugh, not to mention his keen desire to do his bit to make the world or at least his community a better place in which to live that endeared him to the hearts of many in his Rotary club.  I would like to share with you the story of a Rotary event that I feel will show the effect and positive result that Dennis’ qualities had on others.
In 1978, I found myself having to organize and chair a joint dinner meeting of our club with a group of Japanese Rotarians and their spouses who were expected to pass through Vancouver in two days time.  That in itself was not much of a problem when you consider that none of the visitors could speak any English and none of our members at the time could speak Japanese.
Anyway at midnight just hours before the guests were to arrive, I managed to find an interpreter.
Dennis was very good at generating the type of gaiety common to our Club particularly when it comes to fining each other over trivial matters so much so that he was even thought of as being a mischief-maker- in many ways he never lost touch with the child within.
Dennis being Dennis and totally oblivious to or choosing to ignore the language difficulty or lack thereof, began his usual tirade on everyone present in the room Japanese or otherwise. Added to that we immediately discovered that the Japanese also had within their group a character just like Dennis!
You can therefore imagine just how busy our poor interpreter was kept switching back and forth from English to Japanese depending upon who was asking the question and to whom it was addressed. Just think about it and factor into that the speed at which these two foreigners were speaking not just to each other but also to members of both sides completely forgetting whether or not they were speaking to their own member or a ‘foreigner’ and at the same time improvising as they went along.
It was truly a hilarious evening and every one left that venue literally with aches in their sides.
There was a very powerful lesson learned that night.
Communication between people is not just via common language, but through a genuine desire to care enough to want to communicate, even through body language, through an atmosphere of peace and harmony, through a realization that regardless of our respective backgrounds we all share the same needs, the same desires, the same goals, the need to give comfort and to be comforted, and one criteria necessary to ensure all of this is the ability to learn to be ourselves, to tell it like it is.
And to truly evince to you, Dennis’ true character and probably the best and subtlest part of some of the lessons which he has passed on to his family, I share with you the words his daughter Geri said to me today: “He taught us to be civilized.”  -  She was referring to the wonderful combined relationship, which has always existed between his children and their respective mothers and their offspring and his dear wife Ellen all of whom were very special to him at some point in his life.