For Posterity's Sake         

A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project


In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar


Norman Waldron (Wally) Fox-Decent, C.M., C.M.M., O.M., C.D.


Rear-Admiral, O-24883, RCN(R)


Born: 22 Jul 1937, Winnipeg, Manitoba


Died: 05 Sep 2019, Montreal, Quebec


FOX-DECENT, Norman Waldron (Wally) - 83, passed away peacefully in his Montreal home the afternoon of September 5, 2019. Wally was born in Winnipeg to the late Eric and Frances Fox-Decent, July 22, 1937. He grew up in Winnipeg's West End, attending General Wolfe and Daniel McIntyre. Always indifferent to sport, he "governed himself accordingly" by being elected class President each year in high school. He proceeded to United College and was active in English and French drama and debating throughout. On graduation, he won the Lieutenant Governor's Gold Medal for Academic Excellence. Sports did not improve. He married his life-long love Joan in 1962. They lived together in Winnipeg for 47 years before moving to Montreal in 2009, where Joan would predecease him in 2014. In 1962 he also became a professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba, where he would teach for 33 years. A natural and gifted orator, he would typically lecture without notes, and received the university-wide teaching award twice (though he wasn't pleased that the prize money was taxable). Wally's academic career ran parallel to an exemplary 42-year career in the Naval Reserve. Enrolling in 1954 at HMCS CHIPPAWA in Winnipeg, he eventually became CHIPPAWA's Commanding Officer and subsequently rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. He reached the apex position of Chief of Reserves and Cadets in 1987, and likewise became the first Canadian to become Chair of the NATO Chief of Reserves Committee the following year. His third vocation was as a celebrated labour mediator and arbitrator. He settled more than 120 public and private sector labour disputes. The respect he earned from labour and management alike would catapult him into the positions of CEO and Chair of the Worker's Compensation Board (sometimes held concurrently) from 1992 to 2005. Recognition of his inspirational leadership and profound ability to bring opposing sides together led to his appointment as Chair to myriad public boards and task forces, including task forces on the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Agreement, the Labour Management Review Committee and the United Way. In Wally's heyday, he was larger than life. Bristling with joviality and at times irreverence, scarcely a week seemed to pass without mention of some fresh labour / management fire he was putting out. Winnipeg, for a time, was Wally's World. His outstanding contributions were recognized by appointments to the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba, and numerous awards and distinctions including the Commander of the Order of Military Merit and the Canadian Forces Declaration. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, those who wish may make a donation to the United Way/Centraide. A service will be held in Montreal on September 13, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. at the Alfred Dallaire Funeral Home located at 4231 St-Laurent (visitation and viewing from 10:00 a.m. on), with burial and reception to follow. (Winnipeg Free Press 10 Sep 2019)


Posted by HMCS CHIPPAWA on Facebook:  It is with sadness that HMCS CHIPPAWA marks the passing of Rear-Admiral Waldron N. Fox-Decent, CMM, CM, OM, CD. Enrolling in the naval reserve at HMCS CHIPPAWA in 1954, he served on numerous HMC Ships, commanding both HMCS SCATARI (1961) and HMCS PORTE ST. JEAN (1963), as well as serving as Squadron Commander for the Great Lakes Training Squadron (1963) and as Senior Naval Reserve Officer Afloat on the west coast (1970). He assumed Command of HMCS CHIPPAWA in 1973, serving in that capacity until 1978. After command of CHIPPAWA he held increasingly senior positions in the naval reserve, becoming the Senior Naval Reserve Advisor (a position that is now Commander, Naval Reserve) in 1983. Pormoted to Rear-Admiral on July 1, 1987, he was appointed as Chief of Reserves of Cadets, a position he held until 1990. During that same period he became the first Canadian to be appointed as Chair of the NATO Chiefs of Reserves Committee, taking the post in 1988. Admiral Fox-Decent retired from the Canadian Forces in 1996.


Ships served in:

HMCS CHIPPAWA - Served in Chippawa for UNTD

HMCS STE THERESE - Served in Ste Therese for training in 1957

HMCS STETTLER - Served in Stettler in 1957 as SLt, RCN(R), CommO

HMCS SAULT STE MARIE - Served in Sault Ste Marie for training in 1958

HMCS SCATARI - Served in Scatari in 1962 as CO

HMCS PORT ST JEAN - Served in Porte St Jean in 1963 as CO

HMCS PORT ST JEAN - Served in Porte St Jean in 1964 as CO

HMCS NEW WATERFORD - Served in New Waterford in 1965 for training

HMCS PORTE ST LOUIS - Served in Porte St Louis in 1965 as CO

HMCS QU'APPELLE - Served in Qu'Appelle in 1969

HMCS PORTE QUEBEC - Served in Port Quebec in 1975 as CO as a LCdr RCN(R)




Crossed the Bar Index