OBITUARY

Larrie Szafron

21 May , 194419 November , 2018
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Larrie passed away peacefully after a long illness on November 19, 2018 at the Comox Valley Hospital. Larrie was born in Whitewood, Saskatchewan in 1944 and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan where he attended Campion High School and received a B.A at U of Sask. Larrie worked as a concrete chemist for 30 years. After retiring, his projects included restaurant owner, real estate sales, and small business owner doing media transfer. His main love in life was his family. Predeceased by parents John and Dorothy. Survived by his wife of 54 years, Margaret Szafron, children; Connie (Tim) Gardiner, Corrie (Fred) Gordon, Chris (Laura) Szafron; grandchildren Matthew (Clarissa) Stuckenberg, Shaun (Kayla) Stuckenberg, Charissa van Wieringen (Will John), Nico (Mikaela) van Wieringen, Jena Stuckenberg, Dylan van Wieringen; great grandchildren Huxley and Sophie Stuckenberg, and Avanna van Wieringen; siblings Duane (Marie) Szafron, Kevin (Marie) Szafron, and Sharon Morin; along with many cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Our thanks to the wonderful doctors and staff at the Comox Valley Hospital along with Victoria Jubilee Hospital. A Funeral Service will be held on Friday, November 23rd at 1:00 pm at Piercy’s – Mt. Washington Funeral Home (440 England Ave. Courtenay, BC). In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation or the Comox Valley Hospital Foundation.

  • FAMILY

  • Margaret Szafron, Wife
  • Connie (Tim) Gardiner, Daughter
  • Corrie (Fred) Gordon, Daughter
  • Chris (Laura) Szafron, Son
  • Larrie will also be lovingly remembered by 6 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; 2 brothers and a sister.
  • DONATIONS

  • Heart & Stroke Foundation
  • Comox Valley Hospital Foundation

Services

  • Funeral Service Friday, 23 November , 2018
REMEMBERING

Larrie Szafron

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Larry - 1st portrait

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Larrie

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Larrie and Dot

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John & Larrie

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being like Dad!

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a young Larrie

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1st Car

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scholarship letter

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FROM THE FAMILY

Larry - 1st portrait

FROM THE FAMILY

Larrie

FROM THE FAMILY

Larrie and Dot

FROM THE FAMILY

John & Larrie

FROM THE FAMILY

being like Dad!

FROM THE FAMILY

a young Larrie

FROM THE FAMILY

1st Car

FROM THE FAMILY

scholarship letter

FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Reserved and logical are trademark qualities that friends and family might use to describe Larrie Szafron. Larrie was an intuitive person. He was the type of person who could comfortably get lost in his thoughts, someone who had tremendous problem solving abilities. Always conscientious and focused on details, Larrie was a person who loved to imagine the possibilities of life.

      Larrie was born on May 21, 1944 at Whitewood Hospital in Whitewood, SK. He was the son of John and Dorothy Szafron. He was raised in Wapella area, then moved to Regina when in elementary school. Larrie did not have to always surround himself with people to be content. He could be content for hours in some activity or be lost in his own imagination.

      Larrie was adaptable and had good listening skills which he would use to his advantage when it came to family life. He grew up with three siblings. He had a sister Sharon, and brothers Duane and Kevin. He rarely shied away from family discussions. He would debate with his siblings but if it turned into an argument, Larrie would often turn it into an agreement. In general, the family got along well and shared many memorable experiences.

      In grade school, Larrie gravitated toward others who shared similar interests and enjoyed academics along with physical activity. He was always curious about what made things work, and he would excel at the things that called more for "brain" power. Larrie took part in hockey and baseball and was a Boy Scout. He delighted in the projects that required planning, exploration and solution. Larrie's memorable achievements included winning a high school scholarship to Campion College in Regina. As was evident by those who knew him, his most fun was to be found in research.

      During high school, Larrie enjoyed the challenge of learning along with the social life of school. He graduated from Campion College in Regina, SK in 1962. His favorite class in high school was probably chemistry. The teacher he enjoyed learning from the most was Father Nash. Larrie was also a member of the cheerleading squad.

           Although Larrie had a small group of friends, they were a close knit group and he enjoyed spending time with them. He liked to be able to engage them in discussions on the many topics he found interesting. Those who knew him well might describe Larrie as a good listener who could bring out a type of understanding from those around him that even surprised them. He was passionate in his commitments and would never intentionally hurt anyone. While growing up, some of his best friends were Gene Dagnone, Dan Green and Tim Hamilton. Later in life, he became friends with Harvey & Phyllis Kennedy, Gordon &Joan Lakusta, Gary & Donna Clairmont and Paul & Janice Vallee.

      Larrie finally found connection and fulfillment when on May 16, 1964, he exchanged wedding vows with Margaret Dunbar at Christ The King Church in Regina, SK. Margaret was influential in Larrie's life and brought a dimension of emotion and feelings to a man who mostly lived in his intellect. Larrie grew, blossomed and became more balanced because of their love and compassion.

      After Larrie married and the children started to arrive, he realized that a university education was the way to ensure a quality of life for his family. Larrie worked full time and attended university classes and labs on a full time basis. He earned his Bachelor of Arts majoring in chemistry and psychology.

Larrie was a hard worker and a good provider who loved his family even though he wasn’t very demonstrative. Larrie was blessed with three children: two daughters Connie and Corrie, and son Chris. They were also blessed with six grandchildren: Matt, Shaun, Charissa, Nico, Jena, and Dylan; and three great grandchildren Huxley, Avanna and Sophie. Larrie's sense of fun was often unleashed in his puns and witty, intelligent quips. It delighted him when the children and grandchildren would banter back and forth with him in this brainy exchange of mind contests. The children always knew how much Larrie loved them.

      Finding the right type of job can be a challenge for anyone. Larrie needed to find a career that would challenge him. Fortunately, he found a career path where he could use his natural intellect and his natural critical thinking skills. His primary occupation was a chemist. He was employed for 30 years with Inland/Tilbury Cement. Larrie was a dedicated and valued employee and was respected by his colleagues for his ability to grasp and understand difficult concepts.

      Hobbies were more than fun for Larrie because he challenged himself to learn the theory behind the actual activity. Knowing how things worked was more incentive than just performing and completing the task. His favorite pursuits were stamp collecting, computers and photography.

      Larrie found great pleasure by relaxing and watching sports on TV or in person. Recreational sports included curling, and slo-pitch ball. He also enjoyed just being a sports fan. Tops on his list were CFL football, boxing and hockey.

      Friends and acquaintances usually viewed Larrie as the technical wizard and researcher behind the operation and using these talents, he contributed a great deal to many organizations. Larrie worked hard once he became committed to a goal, and he was a strong contributor whenever it came to the planning process. Throughout his later years, Larrie was an active member of the CV Small Business Association and Chamber of Commerce. He became a valued member of each volunteer organization.

      Any number of community organizations were glad to have Larrie as part of their group. He was able to bring a very high level of intelligence and involvement to these organizations. Larrie was sought out to be a part of these groups because of his ability to take a strong course of action and to evaluate any issue that faced the organization. He helped wherever volunteers were needed. He also photo captured for events.

      Larrie's strong sense of faith helped him remain focused on the needs and concerns of others. These values brought him strength and compassion. He was a member of the Catholic churches in various places.

      Larrie was not a man who did things because he expected a reward in return. People who served with Larrie recognized his quiet strength and his practical, logical, and discerning abilities. Still, he was awarded numerous honors throughout his life. Some of his most prestigious awards included long time work awards, and small business awards from local business groups.

      Travel was a luxury for Larrie and something that he took great pleasure in doing. Favorite vacations included Mexico holidays and staying in their own condo in Baja which they traveled to for about 10 years. Larrie also loved to visit with extended family.

      Larrie planned well for retirement. He retired from the corporate world in 1994, and from real estate in 2007. He worked out many of the details in advance so that he could enjoy the time and not have to worry. His new life involved relocating to Alberta, then to Parksville, BC. In retirement, he found new pleasure in having a home-based business doing old media transfers and giving advice to young entrepreneurs.

       Those who knew and loved Larrie will miss his quiet gentleness, his curiosity and his ability to often turn work situations into fun experiences. He leaves all those who knew him with many wonderful memories.


Family eulogy

I would like to thank all of the friends and family joining us here today who came from near and far to honour and remember my father, Larrie Szafron, as we lay him to rest. Larrie was many things over the course of his well-lived life and a man who left nearly every person or place he touched better than he found it. This account may be a little long but my Dad lived a varied and full life that warrants a recap.
Our story begins during World War 2. In Spring 1944 Private First Class John Szafron was shot and gravely wounded in fierce fighting on the beaches of Italy. He returned home to his anxious wife Dorothy in Saskatchewan to recover from his wounds, and, in the spring, they welcomed their first born child Larrie into the world on May 21, 1944, subsequently followed in later years by his siblings Sharon, Duane and Kevin.
Larrie enjoyed a typical Prairie upbringing as a boy - part farm, part city – in the Regina area. His parents raised him well in a loving family and he soon went on to university in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science, where he would meet his future wife Margaret in 1963. By 1964 they were married and welcomed the birth of their first child Connie later that year.
From the age of 20 then, Larrie was a family man working his way up in the world and facing all of the challenges that come with that stage in life. Within the next 7 years he and Margaret bought their first house and added two more children, my sister Corrie and myself.
He finished his education soon after by working hard at his studies as well as in his chosen field of chemistry at a cement manufacturing plant, all while being father to three young kids. Even during what must have been an exhausting period of his life he still found time to give us kids a happy early childhood and in the evenings patiently taught me to read at an early age.
Larrie was successful in his profession and was soon offered the first of several promotions, to Plant Chemist at the company’s manufacturing facility near Victoria, and then on to their newly built plant on the mainland a few years later.
His role was to make the formula, or recipe, to ensure that whatever type of cement was being made met performance requirements while being continuously manufactured on a massive scale - the cement that found its way into buildings and bridges, all over BC and the world, that still stand today. By the end of his thirty year career there, he was one of the world’s leading cement chemists, speaking at conventions and seminars all over North America and in Europe.
As glamorous as that may sound, what his job in the cement industry really meant was to have the stable means to provide for his family and allow his children to grow up mainly in Tsawwassen, a nice community full of tall trees, green parks in winter, and surrounded by beaches – quite the novelties for a family from Saskatchewan.
During these early years both Mom and Dad were involved in all kinds of activities in our lives – soccer, baseball, hockey and football for me, gymnastics, skating and softball for Connie and Corrie. Dad didn’t just stop at driving us to and watching each and every game, he was often at practices, helping organize fundraising activities for uniforms or travel, and volunteered for a coaching role more often than not over the course of many years as the three of us grew up.
He encouraged us to be great and many times he succeeded in helping us reach that goal. He was a hard working role model that others could learn from and look up to, a real community citizen, in whatever community he was in.
Though Dad was busy, he made time for regular family trips around our new province of BC and back to Saskatchewan so we could know and visit our relatives back there and understand where he’d come from. I may not remember the names of all the places but we all certainly remember the family experiences our parents made for us throughout our childhoods. I remember riding back to Saskatchewan entirely in the rear window of his brown 1970 Chevy Impala the first year we returned there.
I remember our first winter in BC when Dad took us out as a family to Crown land near Victoria in the snow to cut down our first real Christmas tree. Dad always made an effort for us kids at Christmas. Whenever there was snow he was sure to point out the reindeer hoofprints and sleigh marks that Santa had left in our yard or on our roof on Christmas morning.
I remember how thrilled I was when Santa finally brought me the chemistry set I’d been asking for since I was five, and my Dad helped me set up a pretty sharp chemistry lab in his brand new garage using some cast off glassware from his work. There was some smoke from time to time, well, most days, a couple of minor explosions, and at nearly every dinner for the next couple of years I would pepper my Dad with chemistry and science questions that he would answer, educating me while my teen sisters also listened, enthralled and delighted with our science based dinner conversations each night. For myself, I won several district science fairs and hardly needed to crack a science textbook all the way through high school, and I have my Dad to thank in large part for that.
A few years after arriving in Tsawassen in 1977, Mom and Dad set out to build a brand new home in a new subdivision. Whether it was because I still needed a babysitter or because I was a valued member of the construction team, I was often onsite during the building process helping my Dad and exploring the area. He was one of the contractors there most nights and every weekend for the better part of a year, applying his own building skills to keep costs down and ensure the work was being done right, from the hole in the ground stage to the interior cedar panelled vaulted ceiling that Dad installed himself.

I was delighted at first with the giant piles of sand on which to slide down and play with toy soldiers, however I soon learned what that sand was really for – to fill and shape the foundations of the various raised and sunken rooms. If you’ve ever wondered how sunken living rooms are designed and built, some are hand dug by 9 year olds, “forehead deep” as it was called on that particular project.
By the time it was completed, our Dad had provided us with a very nice new house in a prestigious neighbourhood from which we moved forward in life. For myself, in addition to my new shovelling, rock picking and sod carrying skills, I also gained a valuable lesson of what the dedicated efforts of a great man could accomplish.
Larrie was involved in many parts of community life no matter where he lived. He and Margaret had a wide social circle both from their involvement in their kids’ activities but also from their years of curling and slo pitch on community teams, as well as my mom’s community contacts through her real estate business dealings. They made many lifelong friends, friends who will no doubt still be saddened by the news of Larrie’s recent passing.
At one point Larrie joined the Delta Rockhounds and became skilled at cutting, shaping and polishing stones into attractive jewelry, selling some on consignment at a local store. As far back as I remember my Dad was always looking for a profitable home based entrepreneurial activity to add to the family’s security. I think the first one I can recall was in about 1975 when he built sluicing boxes and took the family out to pan for golden riches in the creeks of Vancouver Island. This may also have been when he first saw my potential as a gravel and sand shoveller.
By the time he took an early retirement from the cement plant around age 50, my mom and he were empty nesters who had done very well for themselves and for their family. He purchased a condo in San Jose del Cabo in Mexico and they began what would be annual, biannual or sometime semi annual trips to the warmer climes of Mexico to relax and enjoy the fruits of their lifes’ labours.
He had even managed to check off another long held dream, to own a fancy old truck which he did in the purchase of a refurbished 1949 Ford Truck with a split windshield, skull on the dash and painted a bright cherry red. The kind of vehicle that led to him being pulled over by the police on numerous occasions, for no other reason than they just had to have a closer look at that one of a kind truck.
At this time my Mom had been working as a real estate appraiser in Vancouver but suddenly in 1995 she received a “too good to refuse” job offer, and Larrie and Margaret were off to Bonnyville, Alberta.
I should note that they have bought and sold close to 20 properties over the years, in many cases doing extensive renovations, such as suite additions or raising the house to turn a crawlspace into a full basement, but always doing some work. At a minimum, I would have to say that my Dad never met a kitchen or bathroom that he did not think needed to be re-tiled. So after re-tiling the floors of their new house in Bonnyville, my Dad looked for something commercial to do while Mom pursued her third and highly successful career as an appraiser.
By 1997, after briefly considering enhincea farming, Larrie had found an opportunity to buy a small, underperforming pizza restaurant in Bonnyville. No problem, he thought, how hard can the restaurant business be? You make food, you sell food, you count your cash. He soon found out he may have underestimated the challenges of running a restaurant but he persevered with his good ideas, business sense and his friendly way of dealing with staff and customers alike.
Shortly after he took over, however, his head cook left for personal reasons. Most of Dad’s cooking experience to that point had been in relation to Kraft Dinner, fried eggs and barbecuing…. So he did have a few gaps to fill, and fast. Fortunately, I had been a professional cook for many years in the past, and immediately flew up to assist however I could in his new venture.
Over the next couple of weeks I helped him with some entrée and sauce recipes he needed and provided a crash course in mastering a commercial kitchen to the best of my abilities. I was privileged to have an opportunity to help him out in an important way, as he had done for me over the years, in so many ways, so many times.
After that, he did what he did throughout his life – talked to people, worked hard and kept up a “this can’t fail” attitude until success caught up to him. Within a year he had a popular and thriving restaurant in a growing community. But being business manager, head pizza cook and occasional delivery driver 7 days a week was exhausting work for a quote “retired” guy so he sold the business at a profit and took a well-deserved breather… for a short time anyways, at which point he decided to get his real estate agent licence as a complement to my mom’s line of business. By 2001 Margaret’s real estate appraising business had taken them to Red Deer where Larrie continued his new career in real estate sales.
In 2003 he suffered a serious health issue – complications in the removal of an abdominal aneurism led to the amputation of his left leg below the knee. Needless to say this was a major and life changing event but, true to form, Larrie did not let this keep him down for long. For the rest of his life, friends and acquaintances he had known for years would be stunned when eventually at some point he mentioned in passing about his false leg, they having seen him walking around without a cane and even dancing with little apparent disability, for years on end.

By 2004 my mom was looking towards re- retiring and they moved back down to Vancouver Island to slow down and be closer to family, first in Parksville, then Qualicum Beach and finally winding up here in Comox/Courtenay.
Upon arriving back in BC, Larrie and Margaret provided an opportunity for their teenaged grandchildren Matthew and Shaun to come out to the coast to live with them and finish off their high schooling out here, providing them with the same kind of guidance and support they had given their own children decades earlier, as the boys grew into young adulthood. I have no doubt of the powerful positive influence these selfless actions had. Shaun has now been serving in the Canadian Armed Forces for several years and Matthew, who also met his wife out here, will be a lawyer by the end of this year.
Around that same time I had bought my first brand new top of the line computer after a lifetime of hand me downs. It had the built in means to transfer analog video from video tapes to digital and Dad saw a new business opportunity. He bought the same model soon after and with some tutorial from me he was soon able to rip a video and produce a professional looking DVD. I helped with the initial advertising design and Prestige Video Transfer was born.
My Dad took over from there, promoting his services in the local papers and at community trade shows and events, soon roping in Mom to his scheme when business really took off, first in Parksville and moving up island to Courtenay over the years. I provided remote technical support when needed and their business expanded beyond videotapes to include all types of analog media transfer to digital – 8 and 16 mm film, slides and old video formats hardly anyone remembers, along with videography for local events and businesses. Clients were exceedingly grateful for the work he did in preserving their own precious memories onto discs.
Larrie had finally found that profitable home based entrepreneurial activity he’d been seeking since the false gold rush of 1975 and I was proud to have been able to help him start it, to repay in a small way the innumerable starts he’d given me in my lifetime. Their company won a well-deserved Comox Business Association “Business of the Year Award” in 2012 and was successfully operating right up until Larrie was suddenly hospitalized in February this year, right after he had completed what would be his last month long trip to Mexico.
In 2014 Larrie and Margaret celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary and flew to the Maritimes for a luxurious bus tour of several provinces, slowing down to enjoy each other’s company while seeing beautiful and interesting new sights and places together.

I remember during these years how active Dad still was, going out with Mom, my wife Laura and me, and sometimes with visiting grandchildren, to parks, wild trails, the zoo or out target shooting. Even after losing his leg he would regularly make the effort to tour the extensive forest and garden trails on our properties. I was amazed in September 2015 when he said he wanted to walk down the dozens of stone stairs, slopes and over the forest trails to see a 15 foot stone tower I’d just built in our forest, hundreds of challenging feet from our house, and uphill all the way back. It was probably two or three times as long as the longest walk he had made in a couple of years but that was the kind of effort my Dad would make and I was so grateful that he had a chance to see it in person.
As I said at the beginning, Larrie Szafron was many things over the course of his successful and well-lived life and a man who left nearly every person or place he touched better than he found it. I know he will be remembered fondly and missed by all of us here for the rest of our lives, but most of all by his wife of 54 years, Margaret, our mom.