Every year, former Dawson Creek resident Monty Bissett contributes $5,000 to the Northern Lights College Foundation bursary fund in the Bissett family name honouring some of the Peace River country’s finest citizens. The foundation matches the gift for a total of $10,000 to support students with their studies.
The award for 2019 and 2020 recognizes Sergeant Geoffrey Arthur William Hart, who served his country in World War II.
Geoffrey was the oldest of four children, born to Arthur and Gracie Hart in 1920 in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. The family moved to Rolla in 1929, where the children attended Carpio School. He left school at the age of 14 to help support the family.
In 1941, Geoffrey enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces at Depot 13 in Dawson Creek. He worked his way through the Second Canadian Parachute Battalion and First Canadian Special Service Battalion to join the American-Canadian First Special Service Force in Helena, Montana.
He was wounded three times while serving with the Special Service Force in Italy and France, and was awarded the American Bronze Star Medal for his heroic achievement at Colle Ferro, Italy, in 1944.
After the war, Geoffrey returned to the Peace Region, where he met and then married Mary Chamberlain in 1952. They had one son, John Geoffrey Arthur Hart.
Geoffrey passed away in 1966 after being injured on the job at the WAC Bennett Dam. He left behind a legacy not only for his family, but also the First Special Service Force Association, which has helped veterans returning from service since 1945.