A MAN OF STEEL
Worked for Alta Steel (Stelco) for 42 years from 1955 to his retirement in 1997.
He will be forever remembered by his children, Doris (Ray), Ruth (Vern), Conrad (Debbie) and Eileen (Gerry); grandchildren, Carrie (Selim), Crystal (Jason); great grandchildren, Celeste (Ryan), Cody, Kaleb, Tanner and Josh; great-great grandchildren, Dominic, Gabriel and Christina; brother, Rudi (Erika); plus many relatives and friends.
Oswald was predeceased by his loving wife of 57 years, Marta; son Dennis; parents Friedrich and Adoline; siblings, Assar, Brigitte, Erwin, Friedbert, Alma and Tirza.
Oswald was born in Korzysc, Poland in 1931. Although he was born in Poland, his family was German. Oswald immigrated to Canada in the early 1950–aphostrophe–s he taught himself the English language which he learned very quickly. He later married the love of his life Marta in 1953.
In 1955 he started work at Stelco Steel and worked there for 42 years, he worked hard including many years of shift work. He d tell us that in the early days at Stelco, the job was very stressful. He would often go to work and be terrified because he wasn t sure if he would be able to always fix the machinery when it broke down. Procedures weren t developed at the time so they would have to use whatever things they could find at their disposal and rig it to work so that the plant could keep running. He told what happened one time when the plant stopped running in the middle of winter and everything froze up. They came up with an idea to use a massive hoarding, something like a big tent, over the area and they would pump in heat with portable heaters. The idea was for the hoarding to keep the heat in and this would give them an opportunity to thaw and restart the plant. Once everything was setup and the heating was going well, they went for a well deserved break. However, when they got back, the only thing remaining were a few pieces of rope that they used to support the hoarding, the entire hoarding went up in flames. They stood there looking dumbfounded at the burnt ropes. Whenever he told the story we d laugh. Even though it was a very stressful time, he looked back at his time there with fond memories.
After he was finished his shift at Stelco, he went to work building his own house in Lauderdale (North Edmonton). He would go to the site every day after work and if he didn t know how to do something he would go check out other houses in the neighborhood that were being built and go back to the house to do what was needed. He had a tremendous thirst for knowledge and he was always absorbed in any conversation where he could gather more of it. In the early years he sometimes sat and read the encyclopedia. A few weeks before he died, he knew he didn t have much time left, he made the comment soon I will have the knowledge of dying .
In the early 1970s he built his second house, a lovely new home in Millwoods which he was always proud of. Being a steel worker he built a beautiful gate which will be taken to the Walline–aphostrophe–s (granddaughter and grandson in-law) acreage where it will adorn their yard for many years and it will always remind us of his excellent work.
When the first two kids arrived he built a swing for two. Then when the family grew, so did the swing. They were the envy of the neighborhood as the swing could accommodate at least six kids at a time. It could swing really high because it was built of wood and steel and was cemented into the ground, unlike the store bought swings of the time. I recently saw a video where Conrad, Dennis and Eileen were swinging on it and there was Conrad acting like a monkey and having a blast.
He was a talented man and he loved spending time in the garage where he built and repaired many items like his own compressor, motor bikes, mini bikes and sleds for his kids. He also built the boys their own motor bike, by welding a frame together; adding a lawn mower engine and a padded seat. Oswald always took his boys with him to the garage so that he could share his knowledge with them. Conrad and Dennis were fascinated by what dad could do and spent many hours with him and probably inspired them to enter the field of auto mechanics.
Daughter Eileen can remember getting really excited when dad would take the 3 youngest siblings together for a ride to the “hill” on his homemade motorcycle. The “hill” was kitty corner from the house, it was an open field that had a hill in the middle of it. His homemade motorcycle could accommodate all 4 of them at the same time. There was always a specific order on who sat where while riding, with dad driving, Eileen behind dad, then Dennis and then Conrad at the back. Now a days, this would all be illegal but boy was it fun back then.
Oswald was extremely generous and would give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it. He got real satisfaction from helping others when they needed help. He appeared to came across with a gruff exterior but those that knew him well knew that he was really a teddy bear inside. As an adult, he never once said no to anything that his children asked of him, but as a child that was a different story… He even paid for both a Caribbean trip & Alaska cruise for his entire family.
Oswald was always willing to help, when Carrie and I first got married we couldn t afford to buy newer vehicles. As a result, I d have issues with them breaking down or having to do some type of maintenance on them. Lucky for me, Oswald had two garages, one in the front, attached to the house, and one in the back. He constructed the garage in the back to have an opening in the floor so that when you drive the vehicle in, it would be positioned over the opening allowing you to work underneath the car without having to lift it up. I used to jokingly tell him that only a German would of thought of that. There were numerous times that I d be working in the back and having issues trying to figure something out. He d come out to see how I was doing and would give me a hand or offer suggestions on how to do it differently. It fascinated me on how much knowledge he had, he was a pretty smart guy.
Oswald also had a great sense of humor. He enjoyed telling stories and his laugh was hardy and wholehearted. His brother Rudi and his wife Erica and his friends really enjoyed listening to his stories. He especially enjoyed Stampede Wrestling and laughed at the shenanigans with Stu Hart and later the Hart Brothers; people like Sweet Daddy Siki, Killer Kawalsky, and Dave Rule (the Pig Farmer, because he owned a pig farm) and best of all – The Stomper! His mother, Adoline, loved wrestling too! Especially when one of the combatants was thrown out of the ring or hit on the head with a phony chair! He would often yell that–aphostrophe–s just ketchup it–aphostrophe–s not real blood in the heat of the moment.
One of his favorite movie scenes was from Indiana Jones, The Last Crusade. He would always recall the scene where Indiana and his father were tied up and it was time for the bad guys to leave. A beautiful girl gives Indiana a long drawn out kiss and she says to him, in an Austrian accent, that–aphostrophe–s how Austrians say goodbye. She leaves and then a German officer stands smiling in front of Indiana and says, This is how we say goodbye in Germany Dr. Jones and punches him in the the face. We would laugh, sometimes bringing tears to our eyes from laughing.
Oswald liked to go ice fishing with his friends. He also enjoyed watching football and nature shows, he had a whole collection of National Geographic tapes. He liked animals and nature so he loved going to the mountains, Banff, Jasper, Radium Hot Springs. He loved to travel to Kelowna BC to visit his sister and her husband. It became a tradition for mom and dad to go to Radium Hot Springs every May long weekend and now my family carry on that tradition.
Oswald enjoyed getting together and having coffee with his best friends, Otto & Otto. As they got on in years, they would call each other everyday to make sure that the other was ok. As you know Oswald liked to joke around. One time he told me that him and his friends never had any issues receiving cheques, their hands were nice and steady like a rock. However, when they had to write a cheque it would take one of them to hold the check book and the other to hold the arm steady of the person who was writing it. Looking back at all the jokes he told, it was no wonder why people enjoyed being around him. He was truly blessed to have awesome friends that looked after him.
Oswald would always be sure to remind you that if it was made in Germany it was the best quality. I used to always come back with, it may have been made by Germans but most likely designed by Chilean–aphostrophe–s. I had to get my digs in wherever I could.
Even though Oswald was proud to be Canadian, he was also proud to be German, he d tear up when he remembered how it looked when he left to come to Canada. He often said that the books only tell you what happened during the war but they fail to bring to light what happened in Germany after the war. He said the whole place was completely destroyed and he truly couldn t imagine how it could ever be rebuilt. He would tell us how it was when he was in a war camp and how hungry he was during those days. I remember thinking how awful it must have been to live through those times and how going through that experience must have made Oswald determined to succeed. He came to Canada with nothing, but he made the best of the cards that were dealt to him and he did succeed. He leaves us with lasting legacy of family, good work ethics and lasting memories.
On January 14, 2010 Oswald lost the love of his life, his wife Marta. They were married for 56 years, he was never the same after she passed away. He missed her so very much (as we all do). However, being a man of steel he continued to look after his home as well as he could. He surprised us all with the things he had learned from Marta like making apple juice from the apples in his yard, and cherry jam from the cherry tree in his yard. He also made the best fried green beans with bacon and onion which we just can t seem to duplicate.
After Marta passed he still put in a garden every year and planted flowers the way she would have done. One year his granddaughters, Carrie and Crystal, thought it would be a good idea to help him plant the flowers. They probably didn t realize what they were getting themselves into. They began to plant the flowers, but Oswald soon realized that they weren t planting them like Oma would have. If Oma was doing it, she would have planted the flowers located precisely 7 centre to centre from each other. The girls knew that he wasn t impressed, so they took the plants out and started again to plant them like Oma would have.
Oswald was lucky to have been part of a 5 generation family and he was a great influence on his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. The generations are lucky to have had him in their lives.
He worked with steel and was as strong as steel so in the end, as a father, grand parent, great great parent, brother, uncle, friend he was our man of steel and he will never be forgotten.