November 12, 2021
Peacefully and with family by his side, our father Werner Heeb passed in the early morning hours of November 12, 2021. We are comforted in the knowledge that he will be reunited with his wife of 60 years, Marlys, who left us only 8 months ago.
Growing up in Switzerland, Dad completed a 4-year apprenticeship program with Saurer Co. of Arbon and then proudly served in the military of Switzerland before the opportunities and excitement of North America drew him across the ocean. First, in 1953, he worked in the bustling city of New York as a lathe hand in the research department of Bell Labs. A year later, he moved to the BC coast and worked as a grinderman for Crown Zellerback Co. in Ocean Falls. This move did not quite fit his skillset so he ended up in Windsor, Ontario, as a lathe operator for Ford Motor Co. However, the BC coast had worked its magic and Dad returned west and settled in the village of Port Alice in 1956. This became home and where he brought his bride, Marlys, from Switzerland in 1961. The first three children, Yvonne, Evelyne and Michael, were born in Port Alice and then, in 1972, the young family moved to Gold River, where Nicole was born a few years later. During his long career at the Gold River mill, Dad earned the respect of all who crossed his path. He managed staff with skill and care, and his dedication to accuracy and productivity made him invaluable to the company.
Dad was employed as a machinist and was an expert in metal work, this was reflected in his fascination with feats of technical precision and enormous scale, such as the Panama Canal and the Gotthard Tunnel. He appreciated Chris Hadfield fixing the space station with a Swiss Army Knife; saying, “never leave the planet without one”. Pretty much anything that captivated Dad’s interest was thoroughly explored! Here are just a few areas where he established a least some level of expertise: short wave radio, hydroponics & greenhouses, craft wine & beer production, waterwheels, watches, and anything motorized.
Retirement brought a move from Gold River to a much-loved home in Campbell River which was only moments from the ocean. It was also at this time that Mom acquired a little dog, Sam. Sam was the only family pet to ever capture Dads heart, and they enjoyed each other’s constant companionship for many years.
In retirement, Dad travelled vicariously by using the internet to research and then follow the paths travelled by his children and grandchildren. Dad found websites that tracked planes and cruise ships in real time and probably knew when our flights had been delayed before we did!
Werner is survived by his children Yvonne (Ron), Evelyne (Brad), Michael (Barb), and Nicole (Tyler) as well as grandchildren Krista (Don), Cory (Nick), Michael (Corina), Mandie, Hunter (1) Haily (Jeremy), Hunter (2), Brin, Nolan & Carter. Great grandchildren Alice, Ruby, Thea, Levi and Simone. A particular joy and comfort to all of us was that Dad was able to meet and enjoy the company of our family’s newest member, his great granddaughter Simone born just a few months ago.
Dad was proud of each of his children’s and grandchildren’s successes. They have all, in some degree, adopted his strongest character traits and personal values: be inquisitive, do the research, have a solid work ethic, listen more than you speak and be dedicated to all you endeavor. His fierce belief in the superiority of all things Swiss instilled a sense of national pride in all of us.
We would be remiss if we did not mention how visits from relatives from Switzerland were a cherished highlight. He loved sharing with them the piece of oceanic paradise he had found far from his beloved home and enjoyed hearing stories from home in lyrical Swiss German.
Finally, Werner’s children would like to acknowledge Sonora Wing staff of Discovery Harbour Seniors Community for their care of Dad over the last 2½ years; especially Jason, Lynn, Frankie and Aileen.
The family will gather at a later date to celebrate the lives of Dad and Mom.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning”
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