Wednesday, July 17, 2019

In memory of Sam Geller who passed away 15 years ago.

After my mother died, my father was quite popular with the ladies. These photos were taken at a birthday....not his birthday... on a cruise we took together through the Black Sea en route to Odessa!
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday. We were watching the Open Championship at a golf club near Rimbey Alberta after celebrating the wedding of my friend John Hull's daughter. That's when we got the call from our daughter who said grandpa just died. In fact, he died on Saturday July 17th. He was 92.
     We rushed back to the house, packed up and drove to Edmonton where we dropped off a rental car and raced into the airport. I was going through security when I realized I still had the rental car keys in my pocket. 
     Those who knew my father knew him to be a very gentle man who had survived a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp, which was not always easy for someone of the Jewish faith. But after he returned to UK, and then Canada, he appreciated each and every day for the rest of his life.
     My father was not a golfer, but I took him golfing at Musqueum one day. He was 81 at the time. A friend saw us and asked him if he was a regular golfer. "Yes" he said. "Once every 81 years."
     In writing this piece, I came across the following account of his 90th birthday party which was held at the Richmond Country Club.

 Sam Geller turns 90

Ninety of Sam Geller’s friends and relatives recently attended a party at the Richmond Country Club to celebrate his special birthday.  They included friends from the Jewish Family Services Agency, Louis Brier Home and Hospital, and the Jewish Community Centre, three of Sam’s favourite community organizations.  Many of his neighbours from Oak Gardens, and card playing friends were there, enjoying the antics of a magician brought over from Victoria by Sam’s daughter Estelle Paget.  Also in attendance were Mayor Philip and Brita Owen. A few years ago, the mayor helped arrange a meeting for Sam, and his son Michael, with the deputy mayor of Odessa, Vancouver’s sister city, from which Sam’s father had emigrated to England at the turn of the last century.

Details of Sam’s life were presented in an amusing skit by his grandchildren, Claire and Georgia Geller, and Julie and Gontran Paget.  Based on the TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, relatives were asked personal questions about Sam’s life including his war years, his life in Toronto, and the past 14 years in Vancouver.  Following the skit, 9 candles were lit by friends and relatives.

Those present all remarked on Sam’s wonderful sense of humour and  kind and gentle personality. When asked the secret of longevity, Sam responded that it is simple. “Just keep breathing!”


Andy said...

Very heartwarming story Michael. You had a very special father enjoy, and keep his memory in your heart and mind.

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