Vern was born March 26,1935 at Section 28, Township 14, Range 8, West of the 3rd, which is near Hodgeville, Saskatchewan. He learned to work hard at an early age and continued to do so the rest of his life.
Growing up on the farm he had many stories to tell from riding the horse and sleigh to school, to sticking his finger in the meat grinder while gramma torqued on the handle. That caused the finger to go into the iodine bottle with a good shake and a loud holler. Doing chores in church clothes was a big no no, but one Sunday he thought he'd hurry and get it done and stuffed the eggs in his pockets and tripped and fell running into the house - you can only imagine.
Dads family moved to Chilliwack, BC and there he worked on the family dairy farm and picked hops. At 17 he had had enough of the dairy cows dirty tails swiping him in the face while milking so he decided to move to Edmonton. There he got a job for a short time at Eaton's working in the men's section - much cleaner.
At 18 Vern started a job as a swamper. His driving career launched one night as his driver was to tired to drive so dad hopped in the driver seat and grinding gears he got them home. In the later 50's dad and his brother, Wilbert owned two oilfield trucks, one making $7.00 an hour and the other making a grand sum of $12.00 an hour. About this time another thing that he did was being an auxiliary police officer.
In 1954 Vern worked for Mobil Oil as a geologist assistant in Edmonton then transferred to warehousing and purchasing which took him to Drayton Valley, Alberta. While in Edmonton he met Jeanne and liked what he saw and within a year they were married. Gail was born in 1957. The family home was a skid shack in a pipe yard. Some things never change as later in years the houses got bigger as did the pipe yards only this time dad owned them. Shelley was born in 1961 and Judy in 1965. Judy passed away at five days old, both of them had Cystic Fibrosis. By this time Vern was working for Pacific Petroleum and they were living in Calgary. He was working two jobs to help pay for all of the added medical expenses. He would come home from his day job and change clothes, grab something to eat then head to his night job at a gas station. He was getting tired of wearing suits to work and taking the bus so he applied for a field job. They were more then happy to oblige and sent him to Fort St. John since no one else at the time wanted it, it was a looonngg gravel road back then to get here. Mom was a city girl and worried about moving away from a large medical center because of Shelley's health. Shelley passed away at ten years old. Shortly after that they adopted Carrie as a baby. Carrie also had cystic fibrosis and lived until age 33 when she passed away from complications of CF. She had two daughters, Kaylyn and Kieryn, Grandpa and Grandma raised Kaylyn, and Kieryn was raised by Victor and Gail.
Dad was in his glory living in FSJ, he loved the north, the opportunities and the challenges. He had a bit of office work, but could also wear coveralls and get dirty. For entertainment Gail remembers that they would pile in the pick up and drive out to a pipe yard in Charlie Lake – he had found a huge hornet’s nest hanging on a pipe rack and being the king of fire bugs that he was, he couldn’t wait to show off his talents. He would also take Gail fishing. First they had to find a stick, then he’d tie on some string or a shoelace and attach a safety pin on the end. He assured Gail that if she kept it in the water long enough he was sure she would catch something. Still waiting.......
In the late 60’s, Vern partnered with Bill Turecki in Dominion Steel, this really enhanced his love of metals and trucking. In 1970 Vern purchased North West Oilfield Services Ltd. Getting into the trucking business he would have loved to have some sons. He tried a bit with Gail, but gave up after he told her to take the car into the shop and put oil in it. She did but it was diesel oil for the trucks. In 1971 dads brother Wilbert joined him as a partner in the company. It grew and also included a large pipe yard. Things continued to grow and soon they had a number of yards in different places, Grande Prairie, Nisku, Fort Nelson and Calgary and also another company, Inland Iron and they did a lot of metal recycling. In the video you will notice a white stripe down the sides of the Kenworths and it hooks back around. That symbolized a staff – shepherds hook – signifying protection and guidance. Not one of the drivers or employees was ever seriously hurt. The brothers retired in 2005. Retired yes – but he could not forget his trucker talk. Gail would call him to come for supper and he’d say Roger 10-4 sounds good, got a time – 6 pm – OK copy that – over and out.
When they arrived in FSJ in 1965 they were looking for a church to attend. The Alliance was close to their hotel, so Vern said to try this one first. After the service they were invited to someone's home for lunch, and then again for coffee after the evening service. That was that, this church become home for the last 54 years. Vern became quite involved and active in the church, he was on the board for a number of years, and a major supporter – and Jeanne was a big part in the church cookbook. This church was the best place in the world to find lasting, loving, precious friends and those friends were a major part of their lives and social time.
Vern has four grandchildren Carling, Clinton, Kaylyn and Kieryn. They all have stories about their grandpa. He loved jokes and doing tricks to them. He was also the first to get the quad out to pull the kids around on a tube or jump on the trampoline with them or any number of other things. Carly remembers that one of the things he liked to do was - he had slippers that were smooth on the bottom and he would drag his feet on the carpet and then chase the kids with his finger to give them a shock. Lots of running, hooting, hollering and laughing went on. Or when mom was cooking spaghetti he’d wait for it to cool then throw a piece at them to see where it would stick. He loved half cooked spaghetti with salt – Carly still likes to eat some that way. Clint loved being allowed to get in one of the old vehicles at the yard and “learn to drive” as he hot-rodded around the yard. Kaylyn remembers the walks down the driveway at the acreage with him and also “working” at the pipe yard. And Kieryn used to like to play and be chased by grandpa and being around the goats and geese that they had .
Over the years the family went on a number of big holidays. They went to Hawaii a number of times. During one of these trips he caught a record sized black marlin fish, this made a big splash in the news. He got very sea-sick during the fishing trip, and when they got back to the dock he actually had to crawl to get to where they took the picture. The family drove to Key West Florida, drove down the west coast of the United States, went back to Florida with Kaylyn and Kieryn, and a lot of other family trips.
Vern loved to help people, he went on a number of humanitarian trips to Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and other places; helped coordinate and deliver tons of clothes, medical supplies and thousands of bibles into those countries after the iron curtain came down. He visited orphanages over there and met with many different people, he even met a number of high ranking Russian generals and gave them all bibles. Some of them actually came over here and spoke and we got to meet with them in person and have a meal with them. He did a lot of work with Bibles International and went on other trips to Vietnam and Hong Kong, as well.
Two months after Carrie passed away dad broke his neck in three places and became an incomplete quadriplegic. Less than a week before the accident, he had just got his acreage all organized the way that he wanted it. He was looking forward to just spending more time with the grandkids. He had terrible struggles and trials and pains for next thirteen years of his life, but his drive and determination helped him to recover to a point where for a few years he could get out and do some things. He loved to be able to drive again and to get out and visit with his trucker buddies or to come over for supper. He worked hard and did his exercises diligently to be strong enough to be able to do these things. We want to give special thanks to all who helped us over these years, like Wayne Loewen who ploughed their driveway for years, and Ed Toews who went out of his way to help when Vern had to go to Vancouver for rehab or doctor visits. There are many, many more that have been there for Vern and the family, and so many special friends over the years that we would have to list the whole church directory.
His faith remained strong in his life through this and he bloomed where he was planted. He didn’t want to be in the hospital, but he made the best of it. One nurse said he had so many snacks in his room no one needed to bring him anything for a month. They all appreciated his kindness and how he always tried to be positive.
Those that knew Vern knew that he was a dynamic, active, caring person. We can’t begin to tell you all of the things that he did or was involved in. He was involved in a number of businesses, he partnered with Clarence Haugan to develop Ridgewood subdivision, which is still one of the nicest subdivisions in the city; he built and sold a number of homes, and much more. He loved Jesus, his family, working hard, and visiting with friends and we will miss him – until we meet again in heaven.
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