Former Snowbird and honorary colonel Yogi Huyghebaert passes away

A photograph of a smiling man wearing a dark suit and tie and a white shirt.
Former Canadian Forces 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron Snowbird team lead, and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Woods River, Saskatchewan, “Yogi” Huyghebaert smiles in an undated photograph. PHOTO: saskparty.com

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HUYGHEBAERT, D.F. (Yogi, Jim) Lieutenant-Colonel (retired), OMM, CD. Yogi passed away with his family by his side on August 2, 2018. He was born in Lafleche, Saskatchewan, on May 27, 1944. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Phyllis; son Darcey (Jennifer), grandchildren Kyana (Curt) Metallic, McKenzie, Teagan and Aidan; son Daniel (Ginnine), grandchildren Dacy and Ayla, grandchildren Jessie, Dylan and Rhylen; siblings Delv (Dolores), Darryl 2014 (Carol), Dean (Jackie), Dulone (Ron) and Don; brother-in-law Tom (Dee); nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues. Private family interment at Mount View Cemetery, Fir Mountain, Saskatchewan. Celebration of Life was held on Monday, August 13, 2018, come and go from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Officers Mess, Canadian Forces Base, Moose Jaw,
SK. Flowers gratefully declined. Donations to “Stars Air Ambulance” were greatly appreciated.

From RCAF Public Affairs

Former Royal Canadian Air Force Honorary Colonel and Saskatchewan Member of the Legislative Assembly from 2000-2016 Yogi Huyghebaert died on August 2, 2018, at the age of 74.

Born in Lafleche, Saskatchewan, located about 165 kilometres southwest of Regina as the Snowbirds fly, Delwood Frederick “Yogi” Huyghebaert, enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1961. Following pilot training, he received his wings in 1968 and was posted to Europe to fly the CF-104 Starfighter.

During his career on both fighter and training aircraft, Yogi flew one season as the solo demo pilot on the “Deadeye Whiskeys” CF-104 Starfighter team in 1972 and two tours with the Canadian Armed Forces Snowbirds air demonstration team flying the CT-114 Tutor. In 1974 and 1975, Captain Huyghebaert flew as one of the team’s two solo pilots. During the 1985 and 1986 seasons, Major Huyghebaert flew as commanding officer and team leader. During his posting as base operations officer at Canadian Forces Base Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Lieutenant-Colonel Huyghebaert also served as director of the Saskatchewan Air Show.

Lieutenant-Colonel Huyghebaert subsequently served in a number of positions at locations in Canada, including Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta; 15 Wing Moose Jaw; and Cold Lake, Alberta, as well as at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. He returned to West Germany in 1987 to serve on the NATO Allied Tactical Air Force staff at Heidelberg.

After his retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1994, Lieutenant-Colonel Huyghebaert remained active within the cadet organization as the commanding officer of the Air Cadet Camp at Cold Lake. In January 2011, he was appointed Honorary Colonel of 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, located at 15 Wing Moose Jaw.

Yogi Huyghebaert was first elected as an MLA of Saskatchewan in 2000, and was re-elected in 2003 and 2007. He held the portfolio of Minister of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing, and represented the riding of Wood River in the Saskatchewan Provincial Parliament until his retirement from politics in 2016.

He was a long-standing member of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Royal United Services Institute. He and his wife, Phyllis, made their home in Glentworth, Saskatchewan.

The flags at the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly were lowered to half-staff between Mr. Huyghebaert’s death and funeral.

Celebration of Life

By Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) Dan Dempsey, CD

On August 13, 2018, family, friends and colleagues gathered in the 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Officers’ Mess to pay a fond farewell to Yogi Huyghebaert. Phyllis, his wife, was joined by sons Darcey and Daniel and a large group of relatives. Also on hand in the standing-room-only upper lounge were many of Yogi’s close friends and colleagues who spanned the breadth of his distinguished career in the Canadian Forces, and in politics with the Province of Saskatchewan. It was a very impressive turnout.

There were a number of tributes to Yogi, including from both the Premier of Saskatchewan, Scott Moe, and his predecessor, Brad Wall. They were effusive in their praise for the outstanding work Yogi had done for the people of Saskatchewan during his tenure as an MLA for Wood River, and as a cabinet minister.

For those of us who served in the military, it was longtime friend Carl Stef’s eulogy that held special meaning for all of us who had worked with Yogi over many years. Carl and Yogi were Snowbird teammates in 1974 and 1975, and spent several years together flying the CF-5 with 434 Squadron. Carl did a very fine job in recounting many special memories of time spent with Yogi.

Following his comments, I was honoured to say a few words on behalf of the Snowbirds Alumni Association in tribute to Yogi’s Snowbird legacy. And longtime friend from the Starfighter era, John David, provided some humorous recollections that would have had Yogi laughing like the rest of us.

It was fitting that the last word came from Yogi’s granddaughter, McKenzie, who spoke passionately about what she had learned from her grandfather. There is no doubt that Yogi left an indelible impression on her, just as he had on all of us.

Everyone in attendance was grateful for the support of 15 Wing and Snowbirds commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Mike French. Team Leader Major Denis Bandet and the team staged their arrival back in Moose Jaw from Abbotsford, British Columbia, to coincide with Yogi’s Celebration of Life. Their missing man flypast in honour of Yogi was very poignant.

All in all, in spite of the great sadness in saying goodbye to a good friend, the afternoon saw many renewed acquaintances, much camaraderie, and a lot of laughter. It was perfect, really; just the way Yogi would have liked it.

Rest in Peace, Yogi.

RELATED LINKS

Royal Canadian Air Force

Obituary: Yogi Huyghebaert (in English)

RCAF Honorary Colonel program

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds

Image gallery

  • A photograph of a smiling man wearing a dark suit and tie and a white shirt.
  • Two men, one in a black overcoat and tie and the other wearing a military uniform, talk.
  • Photo of a smiling man wearing a dark polo shirt.
  • A man and a woman stand beside an aircraft.
  • A variety of pilot- and aircraft-related items including a red helmet and tunic, a framed photograph of five different jet aircraft, and a model aircraft, displayed on a tartan-covered table.
  • A man in a dark suit presents a watch to a man wearing a dark uniform with medals.
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