John "Jack" H. LotzienNovember 15, 2017
John (Jack) Helmet Lotzien
Aug. 19, 1927 – Nov. 15, 2017
It’s impossible to find a bad picture of Dad. His gentle and fun nature always shone through his twinkling blue eyes and warm smile. In the well-loved and well-lived 90-year life of our father, it’s difficult to capture all that he was and meant to those whose hearts he touched.
According to Dad, his first memory was at age two, when he decided to drive his mother, Freyda (who was widowed by Helmet Lotzien while she was expecting Dad) and two older sisters, Lois and Marguerite, from his birthplace of Manatoulin Island, Ontario, to Major, Saskatchewan. (We often wondered how Dad could reach the pedals…) There, his mother met and married her second husband, James Moscrip, and his baby sister, Marion, came along. Being the grand patriarch at age two was definitely a sign of things to come.
From a young age, Dad was driven by merriment, and while incredibly smart, school often interfered with his agenda of tinkering around the farm, diving in the swimming hole and general hijinks with his friends. Although Dad left school early to serve in WWII, when asked just recently by a medical professional, “How much schooling have you had?” he replied, “I have been going to school all my life.” And that he did, learning to build a snowplane, a wooden power boat, and developing the skills to fix anything else under the sun.
After the war, Dad started a successful cattle-hauling business, (notwithstanding, that he didn’t have enough money to fill the tank after buying the truck), and worked as a farm hand for his Uncle Tom and Aunt Rene Body. The Body’s were Dad’s second family. They played a large hand in further promoting his generosity and natural magnetism, and thankfully so, as he was still able to captivate a lovely young woman, Bernice Erickson, even after he fell asleep on their first date. She would become our beloved mother, and his loving wife and business partner for 66 years. Together, they farmed in Major, where Dad was immersed in the community, serving as a member of the RM of Hearts Hill Counsel and as a lifeline in the harsh winters. When he couldn’t snow plow the county roads, he would help snowplane people and supplies back and forth to town. His community mindedness continued in Lacombe where he served as a 4H Leader and extended reciprocal help to his fellow farming neighbors rushing to complete the harvest.
Adversity hit in 1961 when a failed water well necessitated moving the family, which now included five young kids, Bobby, Jimmy, Colleen, Kim, and Glenn, to a fresh start on a farm in Lacombe, Alberta. There, they completed the family with Lori, Janet and Jackie. Saskatchewan would always be home to Dad and Mom, but little did they know that this place, “The Farm”, would become so central to so many lives.
On The Farm, Dad was happiest surrounded by his friends and family. The “drop-in” never went out of fashion for Dad, who relished the opportunity to share some well rehashed stories and good humour. Whoever, came to the door, it was assumed they were staying for dinner, unless you were the new boyfriend of one his daughter’s. Thankfully, certain men passed Dad’s test, and became his son-in-laws and they, along with his daughter-in-laws, were part of the Lotzien family which extended to 24 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren, who he all playfully called “George”. Dad, ever the mentor, was also adopted, along with Mom, by many others as their “other parents/grandparents.”
Dad was fortunate to live the rest of his days on the farm with Mom, as he relinquished more and more of the farming duties to Jim and extended help of many others. Throughout his life, Dad maintained his sharp mind and quick wit. After a stay marked by ups, downs, and innumerable visitors – not to mention the superhuman care from the medical staff, Dad passed away peacefully in the Lacombe Healthcare Centre.
No services will be held; however, the family plans to hold a celebration of his life at the farm sometime this summer. We will keep you posted.
If desired, donations may be made to Lacombe Palliative Care Centre or to a charity choice.