Jan 6, 1920 – Jan 4, 2018
Paul Yeker passed away peacefully at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital on Thursday morning, January 4, 2018, two days before his 98th birthday. His daughter Ursula was at his side.
Paul was born on January 6, 1920, in the canton of Solothurn in Switzerland, to Jakob and Fanny Jeker. Born at home on his family’s farm, Hinter Birtis, Paul was the eighth of ten children. He attended elementary school in Beinwil, secondary school in Nunnigen, and agricultural college in Busserach. He joined the Swiss army in 1940, serving in the artillery.
In 1948 Paul decided to emigrate to Canada. He was sponsored by his relative Martin Dettwiler who lived in Smithers. Shortly after arriving in Canada Paul bought the Ekman homestead on Ekman Road. He divided his days between working in the bush as a faller, and farming, until 1962 when he began farming full-time.
In 1963 he married Sophie Hofstede-Vandermeulen, who came to the Bulkley Valley from Holland with her three children Michael, Barbara and Margaret. In the next few years Andrew, Ursula and Maria were born.
Paul was a hard worker who loved the farming life. His days revolved around his seasonal responsibilities to the land and the animals. He made sure his family always had fresh milk and meat from the cattle, large gardens in the summer, a root cellar full of vegetables each winter, and a plentiful year-round supply of dry firewood.
He was good at fixing machinery, kept bees for a time, and in his later years enjoyed raising goats.
Dad enjoyed woodwork. He built furniture, toys, candlesticks and picture frames in his own rustic and beautiful style. He made dozens of wooden eggs on his lathe, using every kind of wood he could find, always curious to observe the effect of the different woodgrains and colours. He loved to read, and had many favourite Swiss authors.
Paul was predeceased by his wife Sophie in 2012, after 49 years of marriage.
He was predeceased as well by eight of his nine siblings: Anni, Jakob, Klarli, Bethli, Rosi, Lini, Ruedi and Hans. He is survived by his six children, Michael (Joanne), Barbara (Peter) Margaret (Bill) Andrew (Kim) Ursula ( Olivier) and Maria (Mike); seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; his sister Fanny in Switzerland; brothers and sisters-in-law Pim, Anita, Jan and Dineke in Holland; and many nephews and nieces.
As were Dad’s wishes his body will be cremated and his ashes scattered on the farm fields, in the Telkwa mountains, and in Switzerland.
A memorial service to celebrate Paul’s life will be held at the United Church in Smithers later this spring, with date to be announced.
Paul’s family would like to thank all who contributed so well to Dad’s care in the latter years, when, as he liked to say of himself “old age is creeping up on me.” We are especially grateful to Ellen Rabe, for four years of tremendous support.
Thank you too to the Smithers Ambulance Service and staff at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital for the great care Dad received in his last days.
Special thanks to Dr. Mark Walker and nurses Kate Fodor and Theresa deGroot.