December 1, 1922 – December 19, 2019
Eric Rafnkjelson was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on December 1st, 1922. His parents, Jon and Jonina (nee Rasmussen), came to Canada from Iceland in 1888. Eric and his eight siblings grew up at Silver Bay, where they commercial fished on Lake Manitoba and worked on the family farm.
In the winter of 1939, Eric took the train to Vancouver with his brothers, Norm and Oscar. After the many hard winters on the farm, Eric welcomed the light drizzle and mild temperatures that greeted him upon arrival on the West coast. In fact, it took 30 years for him to return to Manitoba for a visit!
After arriving in Campbell River, Eric set chokers and planted trees at Iron River for a few years. Then he got a letter asking him to go to war. He enlisted in the Navy in November of 1942 at Naden Naval Base in Esquimalt. He said he chose the Navy because he thought at least then the meals would travel with them. Eric’s many years of hunting on the farm, taking his .22 with him to hunt on the way to and from school, served him well. His training instructors at Naden noticed his accuracy when shooting and made him a gunner on the minesweeper, HMCS Ingonish. His strong, hard-working, stubborn nature helped him through three years of touring and incessant seasickness in the North Atlantic.
Eric was discharged from the Navy in November of 1945 and he then settled in Campbell River. One day, while at the Beehive CafÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©, Eric Herner asked him, “Are you a faller?” Eric said, “No,” but Mr. Herner assured him, “You could be a faller tomorrow.” The very next day, Eric found himself out in the woods with a swede saw and an axe. This was the beginning of his 45 year falling career. During the early years, hot summers were spent commercial fishing on the Courtenay Maid. He made many friends throughout his working life and he got to work with his two sons as well. He really was a jack of all trades, building several boats and houses in his spare time.
In 1947, Eric married Beverly Compton and they had three children. They raised their family on 8th Avenue and made lifelong friends with the Burgess, Clarkson and Davis families. Plenty of family time was spent out in the wilderness, fishing, hunting, and camping. Eric and Bev also made several trips to warm destinations with friends.
Bev passed away in 1982. Eric then began a relationship with Carol Forbes and they spent the next 30+ years together. Carol’s daughter, Tami, joined the family at 8th Avenue.
Eric retired in 1989, but his active lifestyle continued. He and Carol travelled to Cuba, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize, and Thailand. He also enjoyed fishing (particularly at Cougar Creek), bird hunting in Alberta, working in his vegetable garden, camping, trapshooting, berry picking, walking his dogs, making elderberry wine, going to Save-On almost daily, and carving wooden spoons, crib boards and bowls. The grandkids always appreciated his homemade “Grandpa Bread” and blackberry jam and his smoked salmon was truly the best!
Eric remained very active well into his mid-90s. He could be seen mowing his acreage (with a push-mower!) and going for regular walks right up until a fall in April of 2018 led to an extended hospital stay. This was followed by a move to Discovery Harbour Care Centre in November of 2018. It was here that Eric passed away peacefully in the early morning of December 19th, just in time to take his dogs for their morning walk. He always said that bright and early was the best time of the day!
Eric was predeceased by his parents, and his siblings Oscar, Florence, Francis Fraser, Thelma Goodman, Norm, Olavia Larson, Margret Sillers, Valdina Perkins, first wife (Bev), longtime partner (Carol), and longtime friend (Jake Burgess). He is survived by his three children: Kris (Ann), Warren (Debra), and Jan (Ross). Also missing him are his grandchildren: Carly (Ian), Brodie, Richelle, Colson, and Liam and great grandson, Dawson. He is also survived by Carol’s family (Tami, Jason, Sam, George, Laurel, and Robert), Ann’s children (Becky and Andy), Jeff Driemel, Bill Goodman as well as longtime friends and extended family.
Thank you to the nurses and staff at the hospital and at Discovery Harbour Care Centre for showing him such kindness in his final months. There will be no formal service, but a private family gathering will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, if you would like, please make a donation to the charity of your choice. He did life his way for 97 years and we are happy to have been part of the adventure! We are all going to miss Dad/Grandpa.
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