Reflections on Dad
Dad was born in the middle of winter on January 27,1933 in Rosenfeld, Manitoba. He liked to recall that he was born at home and his auntie served as a midwife to his Mom.
As he was growing up, Dad managed his academics at New Kennedy and Rosenfeld schools well enough but he much preferred to be outside ridding the fields of pesky gophers, throwing stones, working, out -running his older brother Rick and being a big brother to his sister Jean. Dad’s recollection of life on the farm was that it was a great life. They farmed 320 acres just 3 1/2 miles north of Rosenfeld surrounded by uncles and cousins. As a farm kid Dad worked hard. He chopped wood, brought in coal, gathered eggs (a job he didn’t look forward to at ali). It was his job to pick fruit too -from those prickly raspberry plants, cut the grass and trim the long rows of hedge that were alongside the house and yard. And grandma had a very large garden and it was his job to hoe and hill the vegetables in it – but he said it was a great life for a kid.
His love of life on the farm was equalled by his love of sports from a very young age. He was really thrilled when he started playing hockey at age 14 after his Dad and Mom moved to town. Grandpa still farmed but the family took on roots in Rosenfeld. Hockey became a passion and one winter he played for four teams. He was really making up for lost time. The junior, the school, the regional and the senior teams were all part of his schedule and when he wasn’t playing he was shoveling snow off of the rink – a bona fide rink rat for sure. With the change of season came another game – baseball and the love of that game would be a part of his life until he was 80. While in school he played for the junior teams and also the seniors when they were shorthanded. As an outfielder he had a solid arm and could run bases like a rabbit. In fact in his later life when he played with teams in Lac du Bonnet and Texas that was his
After grade 11 Dad got a job locally surveying in the area. Then at 19 he went up north to Norway House with a crew. He worked in northern communities like Beren’s River and God’s Narrows. Those were the early years of a career that spanned 40 years with the Natural Resources Department of the province. After two years up north he returned to Southern Manitoba – the White Shell, Point Du Bois – working from natural resources to public works. From 1953 on Dad worked for the engineering section in a
number of different areas.
In 1957 Dad started a different enterprise when he married his sweetheart Marlene on April 27th of that year. He was 24 and she was 18. He said he’d been aware of her as she grew into her late teens. When he used to go to visit her there would often be her bratty, younger sister Eileen, who loved to stick her tongue out at him. He would say ” Stick your tongue out, here’s a quarter go get your sister”. It obviously paid to be a bratty kid. Dad said that at some point he just knew that Mom was the one he was going to marry. And she had great gams! After they were married they took up residence in their first home in Transcona; Dad had been working hard for a down payment. The following year in 1958 Dad was appointed Regional Superintendent for Natural Resources – Engineering and Construction Department and that role and the hefty responsibility it involved took him through to the end of a strong career in 1990.
Their older son Gord was born the year after in 1959 with their younger son Doug being welcomed 2 years later in 1961. The boys grew and life and lifestyle evolved. Mum reminded us of how often, weather permitting, the boys would excitedly wait on the steps for Daddy to come home from work. By the mid 60s Dad and Mum decided to move the family to Charleswood and they built the house on Robindale and moved there in 1968; a new home in a new community. With their young family in tow, they attended Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and became part of that congregation.
The 70s were busy – work was plentiful and the boys were growing up. Dad and Mom bought the property on the Lee River near family and friends in 1974 where they would years later retire calling Lee River home. There was no shortage of chores between Charleswood and the lake property. Even so Dad was always quick to lend a hand to friends and neighbours as renovations or expansions were being made in their community.
Dad saw early that Doug had innate abilities and he always encouraged them. It was in those early situations where Doug cut his teeth on projects and learned skills that would be foundational to his many talents and abilities in future years. Dad said Doug learned from him and then surpassed him. He was so proud of all that Doug took on and excelled at.
But amidst the busyness and the growing there was time to play and Dad had brought with him from Transcona his growing love of curling in the Men’s Senior Curling League. He enjoyed the strategies, the competition and the time with friends both on the rinks and off. Dad loved snowshoeing and cross country skiing, too. Many nights he stopped on the way home from work to “shush” 1 0 or so kilometres on trails in parks in the area.
At one point Dad took a break from senior men’s curling to follow his son Gord’s love of hockey. He remembered his own passion for the game and really enjoyed seeing that same passion in his son. Dad worked on the coaching staff for a couple of Gord’s teams over a four year period. That devotion and sacrifice was not lost on Gord and he appreciated his Dad for it and told him so when he took on coaching duties himself as part of his teaching career and was reminded of the sacrifice of time and energy that it had taken.
Early on Dad’s summer sport of choice was baseball… golf followed more regularly a number of years later
Between the fastball and SloPitch teams in Charleswood in the 70’s and 80’s and after Retirement in 1990 -SloPitch in Lac du Bonnet, Harlingen and Weslaco … Dad clocked in 45 seasons of Baseball!! … Remembering his seasons lasted about 8 months a year. And that included playing in the Manitoba Society of Seniors- MSOS Summer Games as well as a memorable trip representing Canada In Kansas at the World Championships Senior SloPitch in 1995 … yay Flashbacks!
Dad had been instrumental in spearheading the formation and development of The Senior SloPitch team out of Lee River- where he played left field and rover, and boy could that Rabbit run!
He liked to share ball stories and there was a time Dad recalled that for a few years they played in a coed team where a quota of females was needed to play. Dad often laughed remembering when one of the gals setting up to catch a “pop fly” … Iooked up and shouted as she missed the ball… “I’m only here for the beer”. On occasion Mum would sub in but only if they were short of a quota – Dad always said she was a good sport and he loved that about her. He knew he could always count on her.
They were great years in the Valley with the Tigers and Lac du Bonnet with the Pioneers, Harvesters and Thrashers and Flashbacks … with good friends keeping each other young and involved and helping each other any way they could along the way.
Dad and Mum spent many hours sharing a cart on the golf courses in Manitoba and Texas, though Dad would say that Mum was the one always bringing home the trophies and loot. .. Seems like she brought something home from almost every tournament she was in and a lot of that loot found it’s way to their daughters-in-law Iris and Karen. Many times when they were all at the lake together the loot would
come out and be divided up.
Many family members, cousins, nieces and nephews all remember good times out at the lake … sometimes staying with Uncle Cliff and Auntie Marlene for days in the summer.. and years later their kids in turn relishing boat rides and taking turnswhackin’ the pinatas.
Good times also included some travel especially as the boys grew older and became more independent. Dad and Mum enjoyed trips with close friends sampling what Hawaii, the Dominican, Mexico and the Caribbean had to offer. And of course they always brought the boys home those awesome souvenir T-shirts! They even went to Panama on their second honeymoon as well as Alaska in the StarCraft van they had bought for those occasions. It reminded them of the camping trips they had taken with the boys when they were young. Good times.
There were also occasions over a period of 25 years when Dad and Mum hosted family and friends in Texas … for those of us who were able to take them up on the offer, it meant getting away from winter for a while and sharing time with the Winter Texans in their neck of the woods … day trips to Mexico and parts of the Rio Grande Valley. And always time for a Margarita!
In 2013 Dad and Mum deeded the cottage on Lee River over to Gord and Doug and took up residence in Selkirk at Kiwanis on the Red. From their condo they had a lovely view of the river and stands of pine trees to make them feel at home in their new surroundings. In December of 2018, the love of Dad’s life, his dear Marlene went home to be with the Lord and Gord followed the next month. Those life changing passings took a toll and slowed Dad’s steps. The following year he was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer and began hormone treatment.
As it became clear that living on his own was becoming more complicated- he considered his options for living arrangements. In June of 2021 he came back to the home he had built for his family 53 years earlier. He was able to be there for just over a year. During that time Dad was very grateful to be able to go on short outings including a road trip to the Rosenfeld area where their family farm had been located. He reminisced about family, whose farms hugged up against each other for many acres. He remembered going to his Auntie’s on many Christmas Eves in a horse drawn cutter. Dad appreciated too, that even during Covid, he was able to visit with “his sister Jean” in Carmen. Those were special times. As well it was during that year that Dad got to know Gord and Iris’s adopted son in Uganda better. There were many video chats and Dad learned about the projects Nsamba was involved in. He was curious about … what
else … engineering and construction. He’d look at the pictures Nsamba sent, and the next time Nsamba called he’d have some questions to ask him about how things were done and equipment that was used and how long things look to get finished. Dad was also very touched that when Nsamba and Rulah’s first child was born she was given the name Lainey Marlene.
After just over a year at home, it became clear that Dad needed more and continued support. After a number of months in hospital, he took up residence at West Park Manor in Charleswood where care and comfort were graciously administered. The staff often remarked that Dad had a gentle demeanor.
Dad’s struggle with cancer ended on June 18, 2023 and he went home to be with the Lord.
The family would like to thank the nursing and healthcare staff at West Park Manor 2E for Dad’s care. Your kindness and attention toward him and to us was very much appreciated.
Cremation has taken place. A private burial at Rosenfeld cemetery will take place at a later time.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Cancer Research, Kid Sport (Winnipeg Chapter ), or True North Youth Foundation (The Jets Organization).
Family and friends are invited to share memories and condolences on Clifford’s memorial page by using the comment field below.