"Mr. Cross was the gentlest, sweetest soul. He took such good care of his wife and he never had a bad word to say about anyone."
Suffice to say, Richmond’s Harold Cross will be sorely missed by everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him during his 98 years, not least Cherie Dubois, one of the first hotel employees to meet Cross in 1986 and who continued serving him each week into 2020 at the restaurant named after him.
Cross, who passed away peacefully on May 15, was such a popular figure at the former Wayfaring Tree at the Richmond Inn on Westminster Highway that the hotel – now the Sheraton Vancouver Airport – honoured their favourite customer while re-branding in 2009.
And so it was that Cross walked into Harold’s Bistro (now Harold's Kitchen and Bar) for lunch every day, where he delighted staff and customers alike with his charm.
“"He took such pride in having the restaurant named after him and his kindness made him so well-loved,” said Dubois in a hotel statement posted on Facebook.
“Guests would often approach Mr. Cross and he was always up for a chat. If a group was celebrating a birthday, he would visit their table to offer his best wishes.
“Youth sports teams who were staying in-house would drop by his special table to show off their medals after a big win."
The hotel’s statement said that “we are all heartbroken and our sincerest condolences go out to his family at this difficult time.”
It told how Cross retired to Richmond in 1986 with his wife Jeanne and lunch outings quickly became a daily ritual for the couple.
After trying out many local restaurants, they decided they didn't need to look any further than the Wayfaring Tree at the Richmond Inn.
Jeanne sadly passed away in 2006 but Cross continued his daily visits up to an including the restaurant’s re-branding in 2009.
"His absence will be felt deeply by our associates and guests and we will miss his friendly laugh and warm smile every day," said Steve Veinot, general manager at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport.
"His memory will live on in our restaurant name, his special table and commemorative plaque, the dishes named after him and most of all, the stories from our associates.
“Every year we celebrate Harold's birthday on July 24, and we'll continue this tradition of celebrating his life and legacy with his family, our associates and guests."
The Richmond News featured Cross several times in his later years, most recently two years ago, when he was recognized by the Canadian government for his role as a young aircraft frame mechanic serving in the RCAF when he was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during the Second World War.
The mission of his 111 Squadron was to discourage further encroachment by Japanese forces that had occupied the two easternmost islands in the 14-island archipelago that stretches into the Northern Pacific Ocean.