As I humbly stand before many prolific writers today, I speak from the heart as the daughter of a humble engineer, who was very practical and down to earth.
Dad was born on Monday, July 5, 1943 to John and Helen Hoeppner in Altona, Manitoba.
Dad accepted Jesus as his Savior as an early teen and was baptized a short time later. He claimed John 5:24 as his verse.
John 5:24 (New Living Translation) “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life”.At an early age dad entered the radio-broadcasting field by pursuing his hobby of electronics. A local radio station started in his hometown of Altona, where his dad had the heating and plumbing contract while the radio station was under construction. This gave dad the first-hand opportunity to see a radio station start from the “ground up”. Quickly dad recognized that the field of electronics was an ever developing science and that, for him to succeed, he would need specialized training.
Following high school in 1962 dad did a short study period at Mennonite Brethren Bible College. I am very thankful that dad did this short educational stop. It is while at MBBC that Dad met Marilyn Zacharias and they started dating. Dad moved west from Winnipeg to Calgary to attend SAIT and to take electronic studies, he continued to date mom long distance.Dad and mom were married on September 11, 1965 (45 years ago this last September). With a new bride he was offered his first opportunity to strike out on his own when he received an invitation to design and construct a new 10,000 watt AM radio station in Melfort, Saskatchewen. From this time and onward the radio bug captured his activities.
After their experience in Melfort dad returned to Winnipeg to work at the then named CFRW station and worked alongside legends such as Jack Blick.
On Monday, November 27th, 1967 mom and dad completed what dad always referred to as their “Centennial Project”. Dad and mom welcomed their son Grant into the world. And try as they might mom and dad still to this day deny that they named him after Bud Grant who was the recently departed skillful coach of the Bombers.
The studies at the Bible college had planted the thought of missionary radio with dad and mom. In 1969 dad and mom headed to the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean, where dad cut his teeth on high power medium wave (AM) and shortwave transmitters with Trans World Radio. At this point this obit could get completed pre-emitted by way to many entertaining stories of dad and mom’s time on Bonaire. From catching a flamingo by the neck and walking it down the road; to playing soccer games against the Dutch National Military - complete with a description of the scars dad still has on his shins from falling on the coral rock.This opportunity opened the door for many other radio engineering duties in a variety of countries yet to come. TWR asked mom and dad to be their first missionary couple in Swaziland, Africa and so in 1971 mom and dad moved to Swaziland, Africa. On April 28, 1971 mom and dad completed what dad would always refer to as his “million dollar family” and I completed and blessed the family with my presence. J
After a short stint in Swaziland dad and mom moved to Johannesburg, South Africa. Dad, mom and kids in tow returned to Canada about 2 years later, specifically Altona where dad began working at Radio Southern Manitoba, now Golden West Broadcasting. Dad began a separate division Golden West Media Consultants which afforded him the opportunity to travel to many additional and different countries to work on radio projects including but not limited to Paraguay, Honduras, Dominica, Antigua, Bolivia and a pirate radio ship off the coast of Tel Aviv. Yes, once again this obit could be side tracked with many stories of intrigue in each one of these countries. Dad left a significant foot print in each one of the countries he entered, not just in a physical new building, complete with the then state of the art radio equipment but each step of the way dad ensured he was mentoring new engineers and radio staff. Mentoring was dad’s passion and focus. I am sure there are a few in this room that if you looked in their left dress shirt pocket would find a little yellow screwdriver because of dad. Dad always had a yellow screwdriver in his left dress shirt pocket and thought everyone else should too. These yellow screwdrivers got dad into trouble after 9/11….there are many airport security screener across North America who dad “donated” a yellow screwdriver to. Leaving the house without his yellow screwdriver was unheard of….and yes, today dad still has a yellow screwdriver in his left dress pocket.
In 1996 dad joined the engineer department at CJOB in Winnipeg. Being employed at the number one talk, news, sports radio station in Winnipeg allowed dad to work with new broadcast technologies that were in high demand. With this experience dad felt comfortable to launch out with another venture so that local and international broadcasters could have the opportunity to use his expertise. This resulted in the formation of Spectrum Engineering Services a division of CJOB.
Dad served on many numerous boards as chair, secretary and board member to broaden his scope on life and interaction with people of all ages. These boards are far too many to recount and honestly dad was to humble to have them all listed in a row.
Dad held many titles in his life. On January 16th, 2002 dad achieved the title he was most proud of – Grandpa. It is quite amazing to me how 7lbs can make a strong, grown man drop everything. Dad was so proud of Kendra and was quite determined that she have the mind of an engineer. Dad spent many a Saturday driving that gator around the ‘OB transmitter site teaching Kendra about RF and exciters.
On July 20th, 2003, 18 months after Kendra was born dad popped another button and granddaughter Mackenzie was born. Dad and Mackenzie had a very special bond and just very recently had built a motor together (it is on the back table).
Dad was the only one who could call Kendra – Kendrasha and Mackenzie - Maki….those were his girls and the English language now fails me to properly express his love for them.
Dad had three great loves and could easily amalgamate all three of them into his everyday living like no one else I know. A couple years ago I witnessed an event with my dad that I have thought lots about this past week. Kendra and Mackenzie were having a sleep over at my dad and mom’s place, a common occurrence. The girls disappeared with my dad but before I left I went to say goodbye and found all three snuggled very closely together, with dad’s arms around both of the girls, reading his Bible to them. Dad was reading the story from Luke 5:1 which goes like this “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left by fishermen…..He got into one of the boats, and asked Simon to push out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat” . To this day I have NO idea which version of the Bible dad was reading from, because although that is the story in the version of my Bible his story went like “…..He got into one of the boats, and asked Simon to push out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat because Jesus knew sound waves travel farther and better on water and the people could hear him better, thus creating the fist microphone”. I bugged and mocked dad about that for years. His reply “What? It’s true”. I know for a fact that was not the first or last time or the only Bible story that was amended by Dad.
In 2003 dad was asked to be the National Director of Engineer, CORUS Radio. Dad continued his pleasure of introducing young people into the exciting field of radio broadcasting technology, which now also embraces computer technology. The ever-changing technology was a challenge to dad to find innovative ways of making jobs easier for himself and those with whom he enjoyed working so much.
Dad LOVED working for CORUS and considered many of its employees as extended family members. Many of the staff dad worked with I have never met, but I feel like you are my family. Over the past week I have heard or seen the phrase “you don’t know me, but I work with your dad”. For every single one I can say….you know you are right, I don’t know you but I sure do know a lot about you.
Dad loved the challenges that came across his desk while working for Corus and was never one to back down from a challenge. One of the first challenges dad had was an assignment that was given to him to take inventory of all the engineering equipment when Corus took over from WIC. When I asked dad where he was going to start he replied with “well, I guess I will start with - 1 CN tower”…not that they own the CN tower but that is how dad took on the challenge not overwhelmed, just systematically. Dad’s challenges at CORUS also included the 1997 flood of the century. Dad and the rest of the ‘OB engineers fought like crazy to keep the ‘OB transmitter, located close to Glenlea, on the air. Dad even managed to get the receptionist, on-air staff, copy writers, top managers and even sales people to the transmitter site to sandbag. Eventually the fight was lost, but dad had by then flown in a transmitter from upstate New York and kept ‘OB operational in a time the city and province essentially needed the number one “information radio station”. The latest challenge was helping to build the new radio studios for CJOB at Polo Park. A project dad wanted to do his best at because he wanted the employees here in Winnipeg to have the best. Tomorrow is the grand opening for those studios, I think he was very proud of how they turned out. He also often laughed that after all his years in radio this was the first time he had a window in his office.
I could go on and on and tell you stories about:
· How dad taught me to hitch hike - in the Caribbean – sorry mom not sure if you knew about that one.
· How dad resorted to Low German when he was upset or ticked at someone – “Dosent mol einte” he would say, which loosely translated means “1000x1”. You go dad….that’s really telling them. J· How dad paid a busker in TO last year to teach him how to moon dance…he obviously did not pay the busker nearly enough.
· How dad taught me to climb and paint towers – because every good girl needs to know how to climb towers.
· How he called Wayne Gretzky = Wayne Goertzen and Martha Stewart = Marta Sawatzky
· How dad took mom to the transmitter site every Friday for a date….yes, even up to 2 weeks ago.
· How dad, mom and I backpacked across Europe…Believe me Europe has never the same after that
· How dad LOVED desserts….you always looked at the dessert menu first, which determined the size of your supper portion
· How dad really got nervous when people greeted him at the airport –more than once dad got into trouble because of “hi Jack”.
· How dad was terrified of water
· How he loved country music
· How dad loved bald eagles and his love for canoeing.
Dad had many great qualities. I hope to be half the parent he was to me. Dad was not perfect but he was the first to say sorry or admit he was wrong. There are many things that we have done this past week because we know for a fact “that is the way dad would have wanted it”.Dad’s biggest challenge in life came on March 30th when he suffered a massive heart attack. A challenge he succumbed to on April 6 at 1:20 am surrounded by the love of his life, mom and his kids. Mom, dad would be so proud of you how you handled the vehicle when he had his heart attack, performed CPR and have been so strong this week. He loved you SO much.
Dad was predeceased by his father John, one sister Magdalene and one brother Robert, “Bobbie”.Dad is survived by his constant support for 45 years, his wife Marilyn; his son Grant and his wife Astrida; his daughter, Colleen Heinrichs and granddaughters Kendra and Mackenzie Heinrichs; and loved by his son in-law Dave Heinrichs all of Winnipeg.
Dad is also survived by his mom Helen Hoeppner of Altona; his sister Luella and husband Marvin Roth of Edmonton and their family; his brother Peter of Altona; his sister Ruth and husband Ed Siemens of Altona and their family. He is also survived by numerous special nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws.
We truly are thankful to ALL the medical staff for everything they did for dad; dad’s personal physician, the paramedics, the fire/rescue squad, the doctors and the professional staff at the Victoria and St. Boniface hospital.
Dad and mom were to be at the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas right now. As I speak there is a moment of silence being held in Las Vegas for dad. I can only imagine what dad would have said if he knew the humble engineer from Winnipeg had slowed down Vegas.
I would love to keep telling you stories about dad because as long as I am talking about him you are remembering him. So please tell each other stories of dad, tell us stories of dad…keep his memory alive.
Dad - I love you.