Roger Kreutzer

Obituary of Roger Allan Kreutzer

Roger Allan Kreutzer, husband, father and friend, left this earthly world the same way he entered; deeply loved.  On September 30, 2021, his fighting spirit made peace with death and his spirit left his well spent body.  If ever there was an example of a fighting spirit, it was dad, and while some may have called it stubbornness, those who inherited the same trait would most definitely attest that it was this grit and determination which helped him push beyond intense obstacles into a well lived, full life. 


Born December 1938, dad spent his first few years with his mom and dad in Ontario before moving to the Kootenays, where he was raised by his mom.  Following his mothers footsteps, he learned the incredible value of hard work and determination.  But dad also knew the value of play; and he and his friends were well known around their small town for the countless wild pranks they pulled.  

Summers were often spent with his cousins in the Prairies, where his specialties; mischief and adventure, were successfully orchestrated with clever imagination and ingenuity.  He held these relationships and memories with great affection all throughout his life. 


At the age of 17, a car accident caused a spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic.  Doctors told his mother he would never walk again, and despite being in a cast from his feet to his neck, he refused to be defeated and worked tirelessly to regain the use of his legs.  By day, he would continue his pranks with the nurses, who I’m certain had a love/annoyance relationship with him, because although he was a good joyful patient, his pranks often involved them.  Such pranks involved taking advantage of their mistake in holding the metal bed rails while he received his electric shock therapy, it gave him a good laugh to pass the shock along to them. Then, after his full body cast was removed, he and his friends covered it with blankets, rolled it to the laundry chute on a gurney and made jokes about the hospital getting rid of the bodies as visitors passed by in horror.  And though he could no longer attend high school that year, he continued to make his presence known by distracting neighboring teachers and classmates by reflecting the sunlight into classrooms with mirrors.  When the school contacted the hospital, both immediately knew the culprit and the mirrors were promptly confiscated.  


For as much as he played, he worked, and with determination and perseverance he focused on trying to move his toes every day.  After practicing continuously for four months he could wiggle his toes, shocking his mom and doctors.  By night dad would sneak out of his bed, lowering himself to the floor and army crawling to the bathroom and back.  He did this in secret every night to build up his muscle strength and prove to the doctors what he had always believed; that one day he would walk again.  By the fifth month he was walking with assistance, and by seven months he was on his way to GF Strong Rehabilitation Center in Vancouver, where he continued his recovery with hard work and perseverance.  With the aid of braces and crutches dad was able to stand, walk, and drive as well as enjoy many of the same interests he had before, including travelling with his high school sports teams, flirting with girls and no doubt executing pranks.   


Dad would go on to complete high school before moving to Vancouver and getting his education to be a draftsman.  Wanting to visit his mom for Christmas he spent over twelve hours walking and hitchhiking from Vancouver to Trail in the rain, snow & cold, along dark mountain highways.  Although his hands and legs were sore, his fortitude would not allow him to be held back by what others saw as a disability.  There was never an obstacle too big for him and he always found an ingenious way to get things done.  


After completing his drafting program, he returned to Trail, where he picked up horseback riding, and car collecting.  His love for driving and building cars led him to stockcar racing.  His spinal cord injury never created lasting fear or deterred him from living life to its fullest, even when his racing led to more accidents on the track, including once when the steering went out, causing him to drive off the end of the track and roll several times.   


He also began work at Celgar Pulp Mill in Castlegar.  There he quickly proved to be an extremely reliable, efficient, trustworthy and hard worker, thus moving up in the ranks.  It was there that he met his beautiful wife Sharon.  The first time he saw her, he was descending the stairs and he remembered emphatically thinking “Shit, that’s nice!”.  He quickly devised a plan to impress her with his corvette, and apparently between that, his sense of humor, all his interesting stories, his confidence, attentiveness, and persistence, it worked, as they began a love affair that led to a happy marriage which lasted just shy of 52 years.   


After dad and mom married, they moved to Prince Rupert.  During his time there, he worked for both Canadian Cellulose and the City of Prince Rupert.  There they loved spending time with treasured family and friends playing games and laughing. He loved having fun and he was fun to be around.


After 5 years of marriage, he traded in the corvette for a station wagon as they welcomed their first daughter, Renice; Shortly after, they moved to Quesnel, where they bought their dream home; a home which would hold countless wonderful memories, shared by family and dear friends.


He began his long career at Cariboo Pulp and Paper as the Stores Supervisor.  Once again, he quickly gained a respected reputation as a hard worker.  Everyone working in his department knew to get back to work when they heard the clacking of his crutches briskly growing louder as he approached.  No doubt that was a much-appreciated early warning system.  Everyone knew who Roger Kreutzer was, and like him or not, he was known and respected for his strong work ethic and likewise he respected others.  He was a man with a clear vision for how things should be done, and he always did the job to excellent standards.  


Though he lived with a physical impairment, his self assuredness and confidence always propelled him further.  He refused to accept that his paralysis should shrink his life, both relationally and recreationally.  It didn’t bother him when anyone would look at him differently, he never expected anyone else to do things for him, and he never expected others to do something he would not do himself.  


After five years, dad and mom wondered if they would be able to have more children, so when their second daughter Danielle was born, they were overjoyed, and when their third, Janeane was born they knew she had completed the family.   Dad never hid the fact that he loved having girls and was an avid champion that we could do anything equally, if not better than the boys.   He was strict and firm, but he was playful and loving too.  He was the dad who would wake up at the crack of dawn to tutor math and he was the dad who wrestled on the carpet and gave bucking bronco rides on his back.   He worked hard to provide a full life for his family.  He was always very generous with his love, time and resources.  


Those who knew him personally were able to see this softer, more playful side and he enjoyed many long-lasting friendships with people who would come to feel more like family.  Their time together was filled with laughter, help and support, games, storytelling and shared meals. 


Some of these relationships, began as neighbours and grew into beloved family.  We spent countless summer hours whittling sticks around a campfire and playing in the lake while enjoying stories and laughter.  In the Winter our families would gather to sled and ride snowmobiles and celebrate Christmas as well as enjoy great conversation over a good meal.


When he retired after a long and successful career at the Pulp Mill, he worked happily around the house, took elderly friends for long scenic drives, built model cars and boats and among other things, he also took up genealogy and worked tirelessly doing research to plot our family tree on several different sides.  His attention to detail and his hard work have provided our family with the gift of a physical legacy in which to look back on with pride for those who came and went before us; and now his life and his story is a legacy which we will treasure forever.   


Dad was a family man, generous in love and devoted first to his wife, who he loved and enjoyed surprising with beautiful tokens of affection.  The two of them shared frequent daily ‘I love you’s’ and hugs, as well as playful affections.  The arguments were few and the love unwavering, as they both worked in beautiful harmony with mutual respect, service and appreciation, which created an atmosphere of love, safety and honor for one another and their children.  


As for his girls, we never doubted his deep love for us and he often found simple ways to bless us.  When we were young girls he would collect all his change in a jar or sock and give it to us to count and divide between us, which delighted us to no end.  Sometimes, unbenounced to mom, he would drop off a handful of licorice goodies to us after we’d gone to bed and brushed out teeth.  Later still, he would take great joy in meeting and holding his grandchildren.  It was easy to see the love and joy in his eyes as he looked at them.  He liked getting on the floor and building Lego with them or simply watching them play.  When they got old enough he would secretly call them close and sneak them candy, reminding them not to let their moms see.   


Though dad’s health began to decline slightly in recent years, he and mom’s relationship was filled with mutual love, admiration and appreciation, they continued to enjoy conversations, laughter, meals, books and time spent in quiet company.  They remained each other’s best friends and biggest supporters, and she was there holding his hand as he took his very last breath.  

Watching them hold hands in his last years as they gazed into each other’s eyes and share quiet whispers of affection, was a beautiful sight.  Their interactions were peppered with broad smiles, soft laughter, and a series of tender kisses, followed up by lovingly tending to every need which would make him more comfortable.  


He loved telling a good story and a good joke with his dry sense of humor, watching nascar from his recliner which was his spot and his spot alone, eating cheezies and licorice allsorts with a pop shop bottle in hand – when the pop shop was still a thing.  He was a merciless spite and malice card player, never just letting anyone win, which made the very occasional win against him all the more satisfying.  He had an annoying commitment to the 6 o’clock news while eating his salad with French dressing.  Interestingly enough, as he aged and his hearing declined, he preferred to watch TV at a volume so quiet only dogs could hear it, much to the delight of us average hearing people, (read sarcasm – another inherited trait from dad).  Though he stopped using it years ago I will forever think of my dad when I smell Old Spice.  I will remember the curves of his handwriting, the way his hands rested as he watched tv or how they were energetic characters in every story he told. I will remember him lugging around the cumbersome and prehistoric video camera to capture every important family event.  I will remember being swung in still-warm, freshly washed bed sheets before he helped mom fold them.  I will remember Sunday drives which always ended with fudgsicles and revels at Frank’s supermarket. I will remember the sound of Hockey Night in Canada as the fire crackled with the wood we cut and stacked together.  I will remember the inflection of his voice as he wished us “goodnight”.  


Our only wish is that we could have committed to memory every single colorful story he shared about his life; all the details of funny stories like when a bat flew in his car and got in a fight with him while he was driving, or how he and his cousin nearly froze to death after losing track of time and taking a ‘short cut’ home after sledding late into the evening as children.  Their dog Boots, nudging them on as they kept falling asleep in the hip high snow; only to return home to a very worried aunt and a community out looking for them.


If only we could have captured his thoughts and emotions and timeline of his life in perfect memory, but that possibility has slipped away.  In its place though; through scattered and pieced together memories, his legacy lives on crystal clear.  A legacy impossible to capture in words, a legacy of devotion and love, of hard work and excellence, of generosity, and wisdom.   A legacy of pride, hope, family, curiosity, and playfulness.  A legacy of laughter, grit, fortitude, and integrity. 


In the end, nothing was left unsaid.  He knew we loved him, and we know he loved us, his entire life testified to that, and so with a mix of grief and relief, we say goodbye for now; we will forever hold you fondly, with undying gratitude in our hearts and memories.  You lived your life well and we are so very proud of you.  Your four favorite girls. xoxoxoxo 


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