August 11, 2019
Bernhard ‘Ben’ Ludwig Berends passed away peacefully in the Grande Prairie hospital on Sunday August 11, 2019 at the age of 84. Ben had recently been diagnosed with Leukemia, and due to low kidney function a decision was made to not proceed with any course of treatment. His daughter Marlene, granddaughter Ashley, and grandson-in-law, Jeremy, were with him at the time of his passing. He continued to say until his passing that he lived a good life.
Ben was born in Birkshausen, Germany to Theodore and Henny Berends. He and his sister, Erna, came from a farming family. Here he grew up through World War II, however, he never spoke much about the hard times. Despite Ben refusing to take English as a second language in high school, he made the decision to move to Canada upon graduation at the age of 18. He arrived in Quebec in July of 1953 to start a new life in the land of opportunity. He worked at numerous jobs as he made his way west, where he developed his talent for being a jack of all trades.
It was in British Columbia where he met his wife, Melba. They were married in Vancouver, Washington on September 03, 1959. They continued to move around in British Columbia. It was in Prince George where his twin daughters Marlene and Marilyn were born.
In December of 1966 Ben was transferred to Whitehorse, Yukon with Auto Marine Electric. The Yukon was where Ben and his family spent the majority of his life. Ben became a partner in Yukon Salvage Ltd., and Happy Daze RV with Don Sippel and John (Parky) Parkinson. Over time he eventually bought out both of his partners and finally sold the business and property in 2001. He taught small engine repairs at the Yukon Vocational School in the evenings. Ben was also a member of Canadian Power Squadron.
Upon retirement he moved to Quesnel, BC where he purchased 5 acres next to his stepson Dan and wife Sheila. As Ben always needed something to keep him busy, he undertook the task of building a home in his 70’s. During the years of building he would spend the winters with his daughter, Marlene, and her family in Grande Prairie, Alberta. During these years of building, it was Dan and Sheila who assisted Ben in the tasks of planing the wood, setting the massive beams, and laying the tubing for the in-floor heating. As Ben aged he complained about getting a little tired….well Dad I would say so, you are taking on more than most people would while in the prime of their life. But he continued puttering with the house up to the end.
Ben was electrical mechanic and was known to be able to fix many things that others could not. He could also build almost everything. One of his most special projects was renovating a park bus into a motorhome (which his granddaughters Stephanie and Ashley had many happy sleepovers in the bus).
Although Ben was not really athletic, it might surprise some to know that he was a scuba diver while he was living in Port Alberni, BC. Ben enjoyed the outdoors and liked to hunt and fish. His family will remember him for his homemade chicken and noodles soup, Grampy pancakes, and for always having shrimp snacks. We all experienced Ben’s backseat cooking and hovering as you performed tasks under his watchful eye. I will always hear him say, “Don’t do it that way, you are going to cut yourself.”
Since working long hours, seven days a week did not leave a lot of time to spend with his family. However, he made sure to have time for Friday night (steak night) or Sunday dinners with his family. It was on birthdays, Christmas and holidays when we gathered to celebrate with his step-daughter Leona, her husband Barrie, grandchildren Monica and Rod, and later with Marlene, Stephen and granddaughters Stephanie and Ashley.
No matter where Ben was he always seemed to have a coffee group. The Chalet in Whitehorse, A & W and Trumpeter Hotel in Grande Prairie, and Sylvia’s in Baker Creek. This is where he enjoyed sharing stories of fixing things, hunting and fishing.
Ben was a great dad to Marlene. Even when they did not live in the same city, they spoke on the phone at least five times a week. Although Ben was not the biological father to Melba’s other children he was a mentor, life skills coach to them….they were his family. They all enjoyed outdoor activities, hunting, fishing and family gatherings.
Ben is pre-deceased by his parents Theodore and Henny Berends, sister Erna Abels, his wife Melba, twin daughter Marilyn, and stepson Kerry, stepson-in-law Frank.
He will be sadly missed by his daughter Marlene (Stephen) McMurphy. Stepchildren Leona (Barrie) Watson, and Dan (Sheila) Gibbons. His grandchildren Kyla (Jim) Gibbons, Ben (Katelyn) Gibbons, Monica (Tim) Kane, Rod (Rowenna) Watson, Doug (Roanne) Gibbons, Stephanie (Jeremy) House, and Ashley McMurphy
Ben had 11 great-grandchildren. He had a soft spot for his dog Izzy McMurphy, who will be missed being spoiled by him.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the palliative care at the local Hospice, (867) 667-7429, firstname.lastname@example.org
In regards to a funeral, we well be paying our respects in Summer 2020. Watch for an announcement.
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