Walter was born in Berlin, Germany to parents Olga and Rudolph. His early childhood years were marked by serious traumas of war, yet he was fortunate to have been raised in a loving and caring family where the merits of humour were appreciated. There are many stories of adventures with his sisters Greti, Lilo, Rosi, and Ingrid, and brother Gunter near the family farm at Damsdorf and in Berlin. He became qualified as a Fine Instrument Mechanic, and developed his skills as a musician during his teenage years. He was, no doubt, the “life of the party”, at various dances his harmonica trio performed at. In 1957 Walter arrived in Canada with his dear friend Manfred under a Canadian government programme designed to bring immigrants with technical skills to Canada. They were both stunned by the vast expanse of wilderness as they travelled by rail across Canada from the port of Quebec to Nelson, BC, Canada. Their pre-arranged job was to work with a large group of immigrants removing the rails between Kaslo and New Denver. One wonders what the foreman thought when they showed up for their first day of work at the Kaslo rail yard in suits. Later he worked as an electrician at the Remac mining camp (near Nelway), where he fell in love with Louisa Irwin. They were married in Calgary (1962), but lived in the Bonnington/Corra Linn area near his work at West Kootenay Power (WKP). He often joked that he started as the assistant to the grass cutter at WKP, yet through his strong drive, and sharp intellect he finished his career as Manager of Generation. Many key friendships were spawned at WKP, and many laughs were shared. Walter and Louisa had four children: Morgan (1963), Jacqueline (1964), Walter “Kent” (1970), and Kurt (1972), and they feel blessed to have been raised and guided in the loving environment created by their parents. All of Louisa’s Irwin and Mitchell extended families were very important to Walter and he loved them all as his “Canadian Family”. During those years Walter played a key role in the development of Minor Soccer in Nelson where he coached for 16 years. He was at the forefront of the introduction of soccer to girls, and he took the bold step of placing his daughter, Jacquie, in the Legion 51 team he coached in 1974. By the early 1990’s Walter and Louisa separated, and after some time Walter married Anna Merlo. Together they finished the “Beach House” at Redfish Creek, and began to travel. Walter loved Anna and her extended family. About one decade ago Walter and Anna separated, and in time Walter met Kae West (helping her clear trees from her property after a storm), and they formed a wonderful loving companionship. Morgan, Jacquie, Kent, and Kurt and their families wish to express deep thanks to Kae and her family for the love, care, and concern they extended to Walter in his final years as he struggled with major depression. Walter, also known as “Opa” to his grandchildren, leaves behind: son Morgan and wife Patricia (nee Ross) and grand-daughters Alexandra and Grace; daughter Jacquie and husband Thor (Fairburn) and grand-daughter Tess, and grand-sons Bryce and Cole; son Kent and wife Christine (Humphries) and grand-daughter Chloé, and grand-sons Sacha and Émil; and son Kurt and wife Jennifer (nee Stefani) and grand-son Kieran, and grand-daughter Lucca; his sisters and their families in Germany Greti & Heinz Zilliges, Lilo Leissring, Rosi & Klaus Jendretzke, and Ingrid & Dieter Struck; and, brother in heart, Manfred Hansen & his wife Anne and their children Debbie and Robert and their families, Jack & Donna Irwin and family, and Dale Irwin and family, Wade and Jeff Irwin and their respective families, and many colleagues, friends, and extended family. Lastly, the family wishes to thank Dr. Kirsten, the Trail Psychiatric Unit, and the counsellors and psychologists who worked together to help our father. We know you all cared, and we know you explored a comprehensive and wide range of approaches to assist our father.
Arrangements are under the direction of Thompson Funeral Service Ltd. Online condolences may be expressed at www.thompsonfs.ca