Llewellyn Applegath

Obituary of Llewellyn Applegath



Llewellyn John Applegath was a Torontonian, born December 12th, 1927, son and only child to John (Jack) and Phyllis Applegath, who grew up in the Applegath Hats family.  In his youth, he attended public school in Toronto and Pickering College.  After studying at McMaster University, and graduating with a BA from the University of Toronto, John chose to pursue a career in law, graduating from Osgoode Hall with an LL.B and working most notably in the Crown Attorney’s office downtown at Old City Hall, then later at the Provincial Court at 1000 Finch West.  He loved his job, and was respected by his colleagues in the administration of criminal justice.  For 25 years, when he was in a position from which he could bring the formidable weight of the legal system to bear on an individual, he was always at pains to ensure that justice was pursued, rather than a conviction.  He loved his work and working with people, and was recognized for it with a QC (Queen’s Counsel).


John never let his work interfere with spending time with his family and friends.  Friends meant a lot to him; it should be noted that John kept and nurtured his grade-school chums Jim McBirnie, Norm Rippon and Craig Bowden throughout his life, and later, close friends like Charles Scullion and Warren Morris.


But it was with his wife Joyce Isabel Applegath (nee Wilson) that he made a warm home life.  John met Joyce at Victoria College at the University of Toronto, where Joyce was also a keen and decorated philosophy student.  They married at Bloor Street United Church in 1956 and John and Joyce raised their family on Beechwood Avenue in York Mills, and shared many good times with friends and neighbours there.  Joyce was a great partner who loved her children, loved spending summers amongst friends and relatives at Lake Joseph, first with her parents and later, with John and the boys.  Joyce served her community with various charitable activities, and John and Joyce owned and enjoyed racing Pacer Horses (Prince Bret, Justin Passing), travelling all over North America for a number of years to watch their horses race.


Joyce died too young of cancer in 1981, which was a devastating blow to John and her sons.  “None knew thee but to love thee, none named thee but to praise.”  Later on, John was predeceased by his father Llewellyn John Applegath (Jack) and mother Phyllis Marion Applegath (nee White).


John always encouraged his children John Craig Applegath (married to Jane Reid Thompson), Stewart Wilson Applegath (married to Bell Maureen Fraser), and David Llewellyn Applegath (married to Andrea Lee Beck), and was a very present father throughout their youth.  John played catch with them in the front yard, or looked on with amusement as exotic animals (Mallard ducks, Canada geese, a beaver) were raised in the backyard, or cars rebuilt in the garage.  As they moved on with their lives, Stewart and David moved to the East and West coasts, while Craig pursued his architectural practice in Toronto.  John enjoyed his only grandchild Cameron Thompson Applegath (Jane and Craig) and followed his hobbies and pursuits; John never tired of proudly mentioning Cameron’s photographs, one in particular, a Toronto streetscape that showed prominently on his apartment wall.


John will be remembered for his honesty, integrity and generosity.  He could never turn down contributing to a worthy cause.  He was a gentleman with a wonderful sense of humour who kept his friends in stitches with his wonderful way of telling a joke in his baritone voice.  Throughout his life, John was a passionate and skilled poker player; he never tired of studying its finer points, and loved winning a few dollars in a lively poker game.  He was also an avid collector of many items of interest to him.  John continued to enjoy summers at Lake Jo until very late in his life, visiting friends and neighbours, doing maintenance and quietly paddling its shorelines in Joyce’s beloved Chestnut canoe.


John eventually retired from the Crown’s office and started the second part of his adult life in his Bloor Street condo.  He could often be found in his den engrossed in books about Canadian or American historical figures or crime mysteries.  He kept up with his friends, and travelled to the States regularly.  He was married to Diana Wedlock for five years.  He subsequently met Joan Oke, who became a long-time companion and who shared twenty years of meals, travels, and lots of gin rummy in Toronto, Lake Jo and in the U.S.  Joan and her family, Brian Oke, Carolyn Langill, Stephanie Oke and the late Cathy MacDonald, became an integral part of John’s life in Toronto and at the cottage.  Joan was always happy to prepare John’s favourite dinner and especially dessert!  In his last years, Joan was a devoted presence who helped John through his stays at Bridgepoint, Pine Villa and St. Hilda’s.  Thanks also to all the staff and professionals at these facilities who brought care, patience and humour to his final days there.


A service will be held at the HUMPHREY FUNERAL HOME A.W. MILES – NEWBIGGING CHAPEL, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville Avenue) on Wednesday, July 19th at 1:00 p.m. followed by a reception upstairs in the Rosedale room.  Condolences, photographs and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymilesnewbigging.com.