Vernon Edward Zeiler
June 5, 1932 in Eatonia, SK to
June 9, 2012 in Smithers, BC
Vern was born June 5, 1932 in Eatonia, SK. The family, Gustave, Elizabeth, sons Reiny and Vern, lived in LaPorte, SK before moving to Oliver, B.C. At age fifteen he began teaching himself to play the accordion. Because of a stammering problem he quit school and started work picking fruit and working in the packing houses also helping his Dad wiring houses.
The family moved to Yahk, B.C. when he was 18, there he formed a band and they played at dances. For a short time he worked at a sawmill, then the Dept of Highways. Vern then moved onto road construction, operating gravel crushers and other heavy equipment all over B.C.
In 1961, he married Cathy Knippelberg in Chilliwack. Shortly after he, Cathy and stepson Mark, moved to Decker Lake where he was hired by the then B.C. Power Commission digging post holes for the new power line to Takysie Lake. Vern always joked that his career with BC Hydro started from the top down. When his supervisor found out that he had worked with diesel engines, he hired him to operate the diesel engines at the Burns Lake power plant.
In 1961, their son, Wade Vernon was born and in 1965 daughter Dwona Marie was born. The family moved to Burns Lake and soon after, Cathy passed away. Vern kept his hands and mind occupied by building a boat that is still used to this day. He was introduced to Francois Lake by his good friend, Orville Loveseth. For many years to come Vern and his children spent the summers at “Vern’s Point” at Francois Lake camping, fishing and playing the accordion.
In 1969, he hired Anne Thiessen as a nanny and housekeeper. They fell in love and were married later that year. They moved to Prince George for a short time so Vern could get his training as an Industrial Electrician and then settled in Smithers. In 1973, their son Kenneth David was born. Vern was transferred to the Hungry Hill Substation and in 1978 he built their present home at Deep Creek in Quick, B.C.
Vern, as the licensed electrician, and Leo Degner, his helper, did all the wiring of the Driftwood Bible Camp kitchen. He also did small wiring jobs as well as many handyman jobs for family and friends.
Over the years he and Anne always had a large vegetable garden and sold what they couldn’t use. The garden kept getting a little bigger until one year they harvested a ton of potatoes, 850 lbs of carrots and other vegetables, all by hand.
In 1986, because of his love for music and entertaining, he joined the Bulkley Valley Old Time Fiddlers and with them, attended the Burns Lake Bluegrass Festivals and travelled all over B.C. to the yearly Seniors Games as part of the entertainment. In 1988, after Vern retired, he began attending the Kimberly International Old time Accordion Championships with his brother, Reiny. They enjoyed this annual get-together for almost 10 years. Vern was involved in many music events including playing in church and care homes. In 2000, Vern and six of his friends started the Old Time Dance band “Just Us.”
In 2000, Vern was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. The disease progressed slowly and he was able to continue with his music and gardening for several more years. In 2009, he became a resident of Bulkley Lodge in Smithers. Vern remained active until he passed away peacefully on June 9, 2012. His family is blessed by the legacy he has left in the faith he lived, knowledge he shared, skills he taught, and character and integrity he showed.
The family would like to thank the doctors and the staff at the Lodge for their care, kindness and love they have shown Vern.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Streetcorners Ministries, Box 771, Telkwa, B.C., V0J 2X0.
A funeral service was held at the Evangelical Free Church, Smithers. Pastor Dwayne Goertzen officiating. Burial service at the Telkwa Cemetery.