Our father was still water that ran deep.
Rene was born in 1923 in the village of Wijnegem, near Antwerp, Belgium. He grew up a happy child in a loving family of father, mother and four sisters, uncles, aunts and cousins nearby. His days were filled with games of soccer with his friends, racing on bicycles, swimming and fishing in canals. He excelled at school with a knack for languages and math (at 96 he was still able to recall Latin lessons learned as a child). However, at age four Rene was afflicted with a terrible illness that put him in a coma for a year. That illness slowly stole his hearing and by age fifteen he was completely deaf. Deaf and fifteen years old in 1938 Belgium.
In 1940 he fled to France on a bicycle, made it all the way to Dunkirk only to be turned away because they were only taking soldiers from the beach.
He survived the war in France, rejoined his family and joined his father at work in a bank. That was a precious experience for Rene, a place to spend the rest of his life but for the sudden death of his father at age 48. Rene suddenly found himself the father figure for the family, mother and four teenaged sisters.
Canada held the promise of a new life and there they put down roots, in Duncan, Vancouver Island where Rene met the love of his life, his beautiful Leona with her long red hair and sparkling eyes. They were married in 1952 and only death would separate them, now together again.
Rene chose a career in lumber, began on the ‘green chain’ and worked himself up to the analytics of pulp and paper at Eurocan in Kitimat, BC (1969-1986). His ability for fine calculation (before computers!) helped to keep the pulp mill running smoothly. He did his work well and was proud of it though was often underutilized and under-promoted at a time that could not see past his disability.
Rene filled his days with family and friends, a good book. He liked spy novels and admired the work of Emile Zola, J’Accuse. He chose the solidness of semiprecious stone as a hobby, lapidary, which suited his precise and methodical nature. He cut, polished and created beautiful jewels to adorn his beloved wife and many others. His creations always sold out wherever he showed.
Rene is lovingly remembered as a good son, a good brother, a good husband, a good father, a kind, generous and thoughtful man. What greater legacy can there be?
When the end came Rene was with his family. His passing, like him, was quiet and dignified. Three days before, he had been discussing the finer points of Finnish history with his granddaughter. The night before he died he drank his daily beer, warm, the Belgian way. The night he died we went to the local pub and had the room raise a glass in his name, a hearty cheer for a life well lived.
Our father would have liked that.
Condolences may be directed to the family through providencefuneralhomes.com 250-494-7752.
Providence Funeral Homes & Crematorium
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