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Former Canadian Forces Snowbirds commander and Saskatchewan government minister D.F. (Yogi) Huyghebaert died on Aug. 2 at the age of 74.
A native of Lafleche, Sask., Huyghebaert joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1961, serving tours on the Canadair CF-104 and Canadair CF-5 fighters, and as a special consultant at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C.
He flew as Snowbird 9 in 1974-75 and later commanded the team in 1985-86.
In 1987, Huyghebaert was invested in the Order of Military Merit for his exceptional service with the Canadian Forces.
“After a long and distinguished military career, Yogi could have chosen to enjoy his retirement, but instead, he decided to continue his public service as one of the first members of the Saskatchewan Party,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in a statement.
“He was a four-term MLA in opposition and government, a minister, and always a strong voice for his Wood River constituency and rural Saskatchewan.”
Huyghebaert joined the Saskatchewan Party after its creation in 1997 and later won his seat in a by-election in 2000. He went on to win in 2003, 2007 and 2011, before deciding not to run in 2016. He and his wife, Phyllis, lived near Glentworth, Sask.
“Yogi was a much beloved character who had the respect and admiration of everyone he came in contact with, not only across the Canadian Forces during his long career in uniform, but with all of the MLAs he served with in the Saskatchewan provincial government following his military career,” wrote retired LCol Dan Dempsey in an email to Skies.
He said a memorial service for Huyghebaert is being planned at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Sask., in mid-August, to coincide with the return of the Snowbirds from the Abbotsford Airshow.