Jim Albach, 77 passed away in Red Deer on November 19, 2020 after having survived cancer since 2009. He leaves behind his loving wife of 56 years, Jeannine, his children Curtis (Catherine), Nicole (Jeremy) and Candice (Miguel) and grandchildren Michele, William, Cooper, Levi, Sawyer, Stella and Evan. He was predeceased by his daughter Michele Julie in 1979.
Jim was born to Henry and Lily Albach (McIntosh) in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. He married his high school sweetheart Jeannine in 1964 and moved to central Alberta and where they made their home. Jim was a Chartered Accountant who spent most of his career in the oil business after founding Roll’n Well Servicing Ltd. Jim loved spending time with family, being at the lake, camping and fishing, as well as traveling, golfing, playing cards and cooking elaborate dinners.
Due to pandemic restrictions a Private Service will be held on November 24, 2020. A recording of the service will be available online for family and friends who wish to join in remembrance on this website the evening following the service.
Memorial donations may be made in Jim’s name to the Alberta Cancer Foundation: https://giving.albertacancer.ca/
Jim grew up in Parkside, Saskatchewan. His mother Lily said that they never made it to the hospital in Shellbrook, and that he was actually “born in a ditch” on the way there. It was not the smallest house in that small town, but he admitted that it was a little crowded, with one bed for his two older brothers and another for him and his five sisters. He talked about sleeping on the roof in the cool night air and fondly remembered watching the prairie thunderstorms. He loved “eating nothing but corn on the cob for weeks at a time”, picked from their garden in the common garden plot. These were not affluent times, but he always spoke happily about them. This is probably when he learned to really appreciate a good meal, especially his favorite dessert “Washington Pudding”. He would frequently ask those he loved to let him taste “just a corner” of whatever was on their plate and looked interesting.
Playing cards was one of his favorite pastimes, and Jim would never turn down a game of gin. He was an excellent golfer, and enjoyed watching the pros playing on TV. He was always in the middle of reading a book and he loved to watch a good movie. He also loved to host a big elaborate meal, especially cooking on the barbeque, and shopping at Costco for these events. He had an adventurous palate and liked to use a variety of spices to cook fish, seafood chowder, and gling soup. He would be eager to try new and exotic recipes, but he never did become very good at cleaning up afterwards. It was always a delicious meal, even if some people accused him of using too much salt and pepper. Often, they were then amazed to see him add more to the meal after it was on his plate.
For several summers during Jim’s younger years, his father Henry would farm some nearby rented land while the family lived in the cabin on Emerald Lake. When they were helping at the farm, Jim and his siblings all slept in a granary on straw beds, listening to the rain on the tin roof. These summers sprouted a love of the water that would always be part of Jim. He grew up fishing, boating on the lake, and hunting with his big brother Jerry, all of which became important parts of his life. He also spent these years playing baseball and hockey, using whatever hand-me-down homemade equipment that could be found. The boys regularly got into trouble, and little Jimmy was often left to take the blame when he had really just been following the older brothers that he idolized.
Through good times and bad, the Albach siblings always stuck together and their children grew up seeing each other regularly. Family has always been the most important thing to Jim and worrying about his younger sisters was common. Sibling get togethers were frequent at each other’s homes especially his brother Jerry’s farm in Rimbey, or at one of the family owned hotels throughout western Canada. With 23 cousins, there were lots of invitations to birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings that were never turned down and sure enough, Jim’s guitar was often a big part of the entertainment at the party.
When Jim was 14 years old, those who still lived at home were moved to a small house in Timberland and he stayed in Parkside with a local farm family while working for his room and board, so he could attend grade 9. Weekend visits to Timberland were fond memories, including playing with “Skippy” the family dog and being pulled on skis behind the horses. The next year he moved closer to his family but stayed in a boarding house to attend high school in Leoville. This is where he met Gene Boire who not only had a car, but became his best friend and eventually his brother-in-law. This is also when he met Jeannine, another of the five people in their graduating class, and who he started to date in grade eleven.
Somehow the Albach family always managed to have musical instruments in the house and so music became an important part of him. At a young age, Jim picked up a guitar and was soon good enough to play with others as paid entertainment. The “Moonlight Rhythm Pals” were the local band for miles around, playing at weddings, community dances, and even a live performance on Prince Albert television. On the show they performed Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons”, but Jim felt that if they had picked a different song, they would have been “discovered” ... and he would have become a rock’n’roll star.
The local fame was not lost on Jim and neither was the money that was earned. There were other odd jobs to help pay expenses, including working in the grocery store and the local movie theater, likely more so that he could watch the movies for free. After graduating high school, he and a friend had managed to save enough money to go to Utah and attend Brigham Young University. The plan was to impress the university baseball coach and continue their education by playing their way through school. The small town boys did not make the team, and his university experience came to a quick end after one year. This year of his life is probably where he caught the travel bug which could not be satisfied for years to come. More importantly, it also started his path to further his studies.
Jim then followed his oldest brother Jerry to central Alberta like many of his siblings who eventually came to live there, where he briefly worked at the Red Deer drive-in movie theater. Then after Jeannine finished her studies and became a teacher, he became a Catholic and they married in 1964. She helped support him financially while he took accounting courses, exams, and got his work experience, studying at night in their small Red Deer apartment that was right beside the train tracks. At one point the guitar had to be sold, but each of them missed it so much that Jeannine soon managed to surprize him with a used one as a gift. Although the financial support quickly became unnecessary, her emotional and religious support was to become something that he depended upon for the rest of his life. Anticipating success, they started a family in 1966 when Michele was born. Then after receiving his Chartered Accountant designation in 1967, he got a job working in the accounting department of a used car dealership. Having purchased a car he moved his new family to their first house “under the water tower” in Red Deer. Soon he decided to become a partner in an accounting practice in Lacombe and his career started to mature him into the successful business man that we all know. One of the proudest moments for him was earning his first big payout when he sold out of this accounting practice a few years later.
The new partnership meant moving to Lacombe, and so a bungalow house was purchased which was where Curtis in 1970 and then Nicole in 1974 were each born. The economy was good in the 70s, and in 1976 Jim moved the family to a brand new home overlooking the Lacombe golf course. He soon started his own accounting firm in the West Park shopping center in Red Deer, and quickly closed it again when he and Roland Dore decided to go into the oil business founding Roll’n Well Servicing Ltd. After driving the highway to work each day, he soon decided to move the family to Red Deer again in 1977. This time it was into a much larger house, which overlooked the river and was coincidentally also in West Park. Christmas was always the best time of year for him and he expressed this with personal gifts each year. However, life in this house was different all year long as the company started to see success. Traveling was now more feasible and Jim & Jeannine sometimes went on more than one trip a year and eventually would to see the rest of Canada, then North America, Western Europe, the Holy Land, as well as Australia and New Zealand. He obtained his pilot’s license and would often take the company plane for short trips across the prairie. In 1980 Candice, the youngest, was born and the family grew up in Red Deer, far from the little towns of northern Saskatchewan. Later that year, “the cabin” at Sylvan Lake was purchased to give the family a chance to get out of the city. There were many hours of playing guitar at the outside fire, spending time with neighbors, and even just watching the birds at their feeders. The guest room was always ready and it quickly became another meeting place for his siblings and their families.
There was always stress in the oil business, a big learning curve, many near failures and a lot of worrying. However, eventually Roll’n expanded to Saskatchewan, and then Alaska, helping hundreds of people to feed their families over a period of many decades. Eventually Jim sold out of the various companies a little at a time, and invested in numerous business opportunities over the rest of this life with some failing and some succeeding. He never did retire, but simply stopped going to the office every day, little by little.
In 1979, God chose to take Michele away from Jim and Jeannine in a car accident and this changed their lives forever, in ways that cannot be imagined. It gave him reason to worry even more about his family, but it further strengthened his religious life. The way that his siblings came together on that day to help Jim, Jeannine and their children, showed exactly why family has always been so important to him.
Later in 1979, Jim and Norm Biluk decided to purchase a “rinky dink little” campground in northern Alberta, over 200 miles from Red Deer that was on a beautiful lake. Fawcett Lake Resort quickly became a business that couldn’t quite support itself, and another reason to worry. However, it reminded him of summers at the lake in Saskatchewan. “The lake” quickly became the one place where he could truly relax. It was another place to play guitar by the outside fire, and another meeting place for his siblings and their families. It allowed hunting and fishing to become an even bigger part of his life, which he shared with his children and grandchildren as often as possible. It was here that he began to develop his unique style of painting as well. His last summer was filled with experiencing the lake, including catching one of his biggest walleye ever. Months later on his last hunting trip, he excitedly spent more time preparing to cook an outdoor lunch of “kielbasa sausage” over the open fire, than he did actually hunting A lot of hard earned money was spent developing the Resort, and a lot of time was wasted at government offices, but permission was finally obtained in 2006 to subdivide this property and it has now turned into an active lake community for over 200 families, as well as a successful thriving business that is still owned and enjoyed by his family.
He always said he liked the cold but slowly as time when on, Jim started to change his mind each winter once the snow fell. At some point a house was purchased on the BC coast in Saltair on Vancouver Island, anticipating the day when operation of the business would allow him to move to the ocean. In 1993, the tenant moved out and the time finally came. Living in an RV trailer at first, the house was renovated into a modern home. Taking advantage of the warmer temperatures he planted a garden that was more exotic than any that could ever have been grown in Parkside. He started new hobbies such as learning to snorkel and scuba dive, also obtaining his power squadron operator’s license to operate a larger boat and a sailboat on the ocean. A few years later, the now empty-nesters realized that they missed the prairie and they moved into the cabin at Sylvan Lake which was renovated, step at a time, into a full home. Summers were spent at the cabin or at the lake, and much of each winter was spent in Mesa, Arizona. In 2007 they moved to the condo in Lacombe to be back in the small town and closer to friends and medical facilities. They continued to go south each winter, as the social community there and the daily golfing was a significant part of his life for over twenty years.
Anyone who ever spent an evening with Jim would all of a sudden have to stop whatever they were doing to watch the sun go down, or to watch a special bird, or to watch a thunderstorm roll in. Just staring out at the lake or listening to the quiet of the bush during hunting season, was as important as feeling for the bite of a fish, listening for a deer, or looking for a bird. He didn’t always have time to stop and appreciate the beauty of the world around him but at the end of a hard worked day, he always had time to watch the sunset. He also always had time to be with the young children of the family and there are many pictures of him laying on the floor playing, even if it required asking Mom & Dad to “pass the baby please”. All of his grandchildren have a special bond with Pépère as he has become an active part of each of their lives.
Dad (or Pépère) will always be an important influence on the lives of each of his family. He showed them what to do, teaching them to pay attention to the urgent things in their lives while keeping their priorities straight and remembering what is really important. Through his actions, he showed how “Honesty” and “Integrity” mixed with “Thriftness” and “Hard Work”, can lead to respect and success in whatever someone wants to accomplish. They are all happy to know that he now has “no more worrying”. They also know that he and many of his words will always be with them, especially his call to, “come quick ... you are missing the sunset”.
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