“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson
Graced the World (his words): November 17, 1924 (Springwells, Michigan)
Skid in Broadside: April 29, 2021 (Calgary, Alberta)
Cheeky from the very day he was born, he was destined to give his parents, Annette (Cockerill) and Sylvester Sanders, a run for their money. The middle child of seven (survived by two - Delores Cameron of Comox, BC; Lenore (Larry) Tucker of Roblin, Manitoba) he would want me to say that he was their Mom’s favourite and now he has the last word on that.
Dad is survived by seven children: Douglas of Winnipeg, MN; Leonard (Donna) of Saskatoon, SK; Calvin (Karen) of Lake Country, BC; Patricia (Jacob) of Blind Bay, BC; Sandra of Lake Country BC; Angela (Craig) of Medicine Hat, AB; and Michelle (Mathieu) of Calgary, AB. He is predeceased by his son Durrell (Sandra) of Winnipeg, MN, and a daughter-in-law Barbara of Winnipeg.
There is a story behind having all these kids, but you have to go to work; you can’t be drinking coffee and reading obituaries all morning. But, when asked how many kids he had, Dad would always say without hesitation that he had eight children – so we will leave it at that. He loved all of his kids.
Dad has 17 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; 3 great-great grandchildren. He loved them all. He was pre-deceased by his two beloved wives Gladys Douse and Elsie Chewka Meleshinski. He teased them terribly and loved them both with all his might.
Dad was an unbearable tease; he was clever and had a wicked sense of humor. He wouldn’t think twice of laughing at an already skeptical hairdo – right before a graduation ceremony (I had to change it last minute); or singing “Momma’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be _________ “[insert grandchild’s name]; or recording teenaged spats between his daughters only to mortify them by having them listen to it years later (in front of their husbands). It was endless – right to the end.
He grew up in Michigan but spent his younger adult years in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In the early 1970s, he moved his family to Grande Cache, Alberta, and finally settled in Hinton, Alberta, where he stayed for almost 40 years. He moved to Calgary, AB, in 2010 to be with his youngest (and most favourite) daughter. In 2015, he moved to Cochrane, AB, and enjoyed being a part of that community for 6 years.
He always had candies for the grandchildren. He was always chewing tobacco. Playing cards (bridge, euchre, crib, canasta) was joy. He placed 3rd in Canada in cribbage at the National Seniors Games held in Brockville, Ontario, in 2010 (he was robbed of 1st place and he would want me to say it). He loved fishing (he was incredibly good at it and won many trophies) and enjoyed hunting – he was even able to land a few decoys in his time (they were easier to see after all).
He shamelessly picked bottles and recycled copper – he couldn’t drive by a can or a bottle on the road without picking it up, “Was that a can?” he asked a month ago; “Nope.” I would always say. He could spot a nickel on the ground (even when he became legally blind). He loved woodworking. He was very crafty.
He was Canadian (don’t even think about singing “Born in the USA” to him, because it wasn’t funny). Canada was his country. He thought of himself as all Irish – even though he was also English. He loved planting his garden and he loved growing flowers. He knew the backcountry of Jasper and Hinton like the back of his hand. He loved playing baseball with his family. He was gentle and kind. He was so lovable and sweet. He loved all babies. Smartest man I know. He was a terrible, in-your-face winner (you know the kind). I never beat him at checkers (he even won last week – honestly thought I had him…). Forget about Monopoly (he was an insufferable winner). When he won he would cover his mouth with his hand and chuckle – his belly jiggling (man, it would burn). He had to own Park Place and Boardwalk – if he didn’t get them, he didn’t want to play. He still would of course (he just had trouble seeing the board due to his gigantic bottom lip sticking out in a pout).
He loved Christmas. He loved Merle Haggard. Loved listening to music and singing along. Insisted he had naturally curly hair – and it was as straight as a board. Insufferable. He would play for endless hours with his grandchildren. He was scaling jungle gyms at 86 and going down slides. He was still hunting at 90. He always wore a gold cross around his neck. His hands remained HUGE even when he got weak. He was strong until he was 95 years old. He planned his 95th birthday – a cribbage tournament at the Cochrane Legion. 60 people came, he won the whole tournament. He was never sick – except with colds (and when he got them, they were the worse known to mankind).
His summer vacations were spent going back to visit family in Manitoba every year. The signal light would be accidentally set on the way out of Hinton and stay on until he pulled into Roblin, Manitoba. He was a small town, country kid, and never found a major western Canadian city he didn’t get lost in - right from the moment we went past the “Welcome” sign. Getting lost whilst pulling a 32-foot fifth wheel was especially interesting. We would be lost for hours. See, we liked to tease him too. He never laughed when we did it though.
His favourite sayings were “Carry on Canada”, “No chocolate cake, please” “Di Boyja” and he would always say to me when I was fretting, “It will all work out”.
His aboriginal name was Smokey – given to him by his First Nations friends in Hinton. Everyone liked Dad. He had lots of friends. He worked on farms, in potash mines, coal mines, gas plants, as a surveyor in Ontario for geologists, as a landfill attendant, and he worked for a pulp mill. He enjoyed his work in the bush as a tree faller and skidder most of all. He would come home smelling of saw dust. He would be flown out to fight forest fires every summer. He signed up for WWII at 16. He remembered his dog tag numbers forever – he would still hold those leather tags every now and then. He was born in the time of horse and buggy. Saw the invention of cars and heard the first commercial planes flying overhead; before TVs and man on the moon. In the end, he had a computer, he spoke of Twitter, and he wanted me to Google everything - "Ask your phone" he would say. He truly has seen it all. He was a great dad. What a legend.
You lived well. Lived simply and authentically. Loved hard. Played hard. Worked hard.
Enjoy your rest Dad. It will all work out. Love you. – Mellie
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