Irvin Schmidt

Irvin Schmidt

Wednesday, October 6th, 1937 Sunday, January 9th, 2022
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Obituary for Irvin Jacob Schmidt

Irvin Jacob Schmidt of Burnaby BC, went to join his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in heaven on January 9th, 2022, at the age of 84.

Irvin is survived by his sister MaryEllen, and his children Janice and her husband Ken; David and his wife Tracey, grandchildren Matthew and Julia; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. Irvin was predeceased by his loving wife, Joan.

Irvin is remembered as a loving brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and cousin. He was the second of three children born to Abram and Alma Schmidt on October 6, 1937, in Steinbach, Manitoba. Like all fathers, Abe was so excited to have a brilliant son – and Irvin was his pride and joy. Shortly after Irvin was born, the family moved to Didsbury Alberta, where they resided for several years, before moving to British Columbia. In British Columbia the family resided on a farm located on Corbould road, Sumas Prairie, Abbotsford. The farm was the third one north of the Canada / USA border, on the east side of Corbould road. Irvin had many fond memories of his time on the farm with his family and his two sisters MaryEllen and Ruth. Some of Irvin’s fondest memories were of his cousins visiting the farm and staying for several weeks every summer.

At the age of 4 years old Irvin was diagnosed with encephalitis which caused temporary blindness. His affliction was corrected with numerous brain surgeries, and the doctors who performed the surgeries felt there was little hope for a full recovery. Irvin was in a coma for 6 weeks and upon waking from the coma Irvin found life very difficult. He had to re-learn the basics including how to walk, talk, eat, etc. His mother was determined to give him a normal life under the circumstances. With help from his loving family Irvin learned to overcome all his physical challenges which included living with his right side being partially paralyzed. He referred to his right side as “doesn’t work”.

Irvin’s sister MaryEllen wrote:
"Growing up in the small town of Didsbury, we had a comfortable house, but it did not have heating the way we are accustomed to today. Our main source of heat every morning was when our mother would start a fire in the wood stove. We had our shoes or slippers on the floor under the stove. Irvin and I were sitting at our dining room table where we would have our breakfast. I would have been eight years old, and Irvin was four. Irvin asked me to get his shoes/or slippers for him. My reply to him was, "No, you can get them yourself."
Irvin's reply was: "No, I can't see them." That was a shock to me ... when Mother came into the room, I told her ... that's when it all started ... It is a story of how appointments were made with the doctor and more doctors, the trip to Edmonton, to the University of Alberta Hospital, under the care of Dr. Henderson, who was a renowned medical doctor in brain surgery.

My mother stayed in Edmonton for the duration of the surgeries, while in Didsbury our care lady was Celina Dedels who lived in our house to take care of my young baby sister Ruth and myself. Our Father was blessed with a number of trips hauling supplies from the continental USA through Canada to Alaska with supplies for the construction of the Alaska Highway. That was a blessing because it afforded our parents to pay for the major medical bills. There were congregations of numerous churches in Alberta that were praying for Irvin's recovery from the major surgeries. After the fifth surgery - with the last one requiring 18 stitches from the neck down, the physicians drained a pint of fluid from Irvin’s brain. Irvin was unconscious for many weeks. All the surgeries left him paralyzed on his right side. Yes, "encephalitis" they reported is what had caused his blindness. My parents brought Irvin home after numerous weeks in Edmonton, and he had to be carried into the house because he had to learn to walk, talk, and eat again as a newborn. My memories of Irvin's young life is that he had a struggle growing up."

Growing up on the farm Irvin’s father Abe would always tell stories to make everyone at the dining table laugh. Irvin would be the one laughing so hard that he would almost choke. His older sister MaryEllen recalls moving the breakfast Corn Flakes box in front of her younger brother Irvin so that it would protect her from anything coming out of his mouth while he would laugh.

Irvin loved animals, and on the farm, Irvin grew up with a farm cat which he called his “big kitty”. During milking of the cows Irvin would squirt some milk over to his big kitty and laugh. Irvin worked hard on the farm cleaning, milking cows, and working in the orchard. He enjoyed the fruits that they harvested from the trees. The farm had 24 plum trees as well as numerous cherry trees, apple trees, strawberries, and hazelnuts.

When Irvin was in his late 20’s he met his sweetheart Joan through friends during a blind date. In 1964 Irvin proposed to Joan and they were married in December. The young couple decided to spend their honeymoon at the Harrison Hot Springs hotel where they woke up to one of the coldest days on record. Many of the hotel’s water pipes froze during the night and had burst from the extreme cold. To keep warm the young couple spent extra time snuggling under the covers and conceived the first of their two children Janice.

Janice received a little brother David three years later, and the two remember numerous family dinners with their fun-loving dad always telling jokes and stories. Irvin would be laughing so hard, that his wife would tell the family to stop joking since we don’t want Irvin to choke!

Janice and David have fond memories of playing with him when they were younger.

David remembers:
"Dad teaching me how to ride my first bike; he would hold on to the back of the bike while I tried to keep my balance over and over. After several attempts Dad kept coaching me to keep going and keep trying, saying “I am holding on and as you go, I will keep holding on!” I was riding the bike thinking he was still holding on but when l looked back, he had let go a good 100 ft or so back! I still remember that to this day. David’s sister Janice remembers this as well and couldn’t stop laughing. She recalls the bike was yellow."

Irvin worked for 25 years as a sawmill worker with MacMillan Bloedel at the Vancouver plywood division, which was located in Vancouver off of SE Marine drive, until the mill was closed in 1985/86. Irvin was proud to wear the MacMillan Bloedel 25-year gold watch.

Here is a YouTube of the Vancouver plywood mill in 1958

After retiring from working at the plywood mill, Irvin worked with his wife in the family business which Joan started.

Irvin and Joan enjoyed watching their children grow up, enjoying down time with them away from work visiting family and going on trips to the USA and abroad. They had a trailer lot next to Joan’s sister-in-law Nettie and her husband Paul at Harrison Hot Springs which they loved to retreat to on the weekends during the summer. Many good times were had visiting with family around the campfire. After Joan passed on October 13, 1997, Irvin moved closer to his sister MaryEllen to an apartment near her.

Later she was instrumental in helping Irvin find a senior’s residence near her. Irvin was very grateful to be living in the lovely Belvedere senior’s residence in Coquitlam, BC. He was happy to be near his grandchildren who would visit him often. He always spoke about how fortunate he was to have this time. He often would refer to his residence as a “cruise ship”.

Irvin’s grandchildren remember:
"Grandpa would drive us around on his scooter when we were young. We thought he was pretty cool to drive us and loved to beep the horn on the scooter! Irvin retained a childlike spirt and loved to have fun."

One of Irvin’s nieces wrote:
"Looking back over the years he was always a very special Uncle. His laugh and unique sense of humor come to mind as well as his love for the family."

One of Irvin’s cousins wrote:
"During the last few visits with Irvin, he still recognized me, and we were able to visit and talk about family despite his short-term memory failing, being weak, and being confined to a wheelchair. He mentioned that he was often tired – he spent most of the day going to his meals and napping. He did have good recollection of events from his young days on Uncle Abe’s farm and we had many fond shared reminiscences of those times. I will miss Irvin – he was more than just a cousin, but also a dear family friend to me. In many ways it is a blessing that he has now gone to be with the Lord – he has had a long and difficult life given his health conditions."

One of Irvin’s nieces wrote:
"Remembering Uncle Irvin. Uncle Irvin was a kind soul. I remember him to be patient. He helped us when we needed a temporary place to live. During this time, he shared his family home with my mother, sisters, and me. I remember Uncle Irvin made me feel welcome. He seemed genuinely interested and very proud of Janice and David and everything about them. He took interest in us too.

He was a great sport and did what needed to be done for the whole family. He made a point to go to the Hot Springs with his family often to enjoy down time with his family. He took great interest in how things worked and always had a collection of books. I will always remember his reply "Is that right?" Which always let me know he was interested in others and what they had to say or offer in a conversation. Uncle Irvin will always be remembered for his faithfulness and love."

One of Irvin’s nieces wrote:
"Janice and David, I want to let you know some of my memories of your dad, my Uncle Irvin. I remember the big dinners and parties at your house and how much fun they were. Uncle Irvin always went off to the family room by himself to watch the TV show Hee Haw because he didn't want to miss "his show". He really enjoyed the music and laughed at all their funny stunts. Our family enjoyed celebrating any and all special occasions by sitting around the dining table after a big meal and visiting. Inevitably someone would say something funny, tell a funny story or start telling jokes. If Aunty Ruth and Uncle Larry were visiting, they would come prepared with jokes and ridiculously funny stories typed up on a few sheets of paper. Whenever the jokes started, everyone would start to laugh, and then Uncle Irvin would join in and start with his big hearty laugh that was so contagious it would keep everyone going. Sometimes only he happened to find something funny and would laugh, and just his laughter would start everybody laughing. Soon we were all laughing our heads off, just because Irvin was laughing! We had a lot of fun around the table together.

When MaryEllen moved to the new house in Burnaby she put a cute little joke book in her pretty bathroom and told us it was there for her brother. Sometimes we had to wait awhile to get in the bathroom because Uncle Irvin would be in their laughing and laughing. We always wondered if he was really taking that long, or if he was in there just reading the jokes!

When Janice and David got home from school, Uncle Irvin would be sitting in the living room reading his Bible before he went to work at four o'clock. That was his morning and he faithfully read his Bible every morning, at the start of his day. This is one of my favorite memories, but it is probably not appropriate to share with everybody. But I want to share it with you both, because it has always been so funny to me, and you may have been too young to remember it. If it had a title, I would call it "Uncle Irvin Saves the Day."

In our townhouse, the bathroom was upstairs. MaryEllen, being a single parent, worked very hard to try to provide a nice home for her three teenage girls. On a secretary's income, this was not an easy thing to do. As a result, she found herself trying "to pinch every penny", which naturally tended to irritate her teenagers. Probably the ultimate example of this was when she posted a note by the toilet in the only bathroom. It read; "Toilet paper is six cents a roll, and there are approximately 873 sheets in each roll. So, it costs almost .02 cents per sheet. Please use ONLY 6-7 sheets each time you need to use the bathroom. My Numbers may not be accurate, but the note was accurate at the time! (In the mid-seventies). This embarrassed the 3 teenage girls so much that they didn't dare have any friends over. One day the Schmidt family visited, and naturally, during the visit, Uncle Irvin went upstairs to use the bathroom. After a while everyone heard his big bellowing laugh from upstairs and he continued laughing all the way down the stairs. When everyone asked him what was so funny, he finally was able to say “I didn't know that! Toilet Paper is six cents a roll! And he kept on laughing, until he was able to say, "If I hadn't visited my sister and then taken a break and gone up to the bathroom, I never would have known that!" Well Aunty Joan was getting a bit impatient, so she said, "Oh Irvin! What are you on about now?" And he told her, while sounding a little bit bewildered "Well I read it upstairs, there's a sign that says toilet paper is six cents a roll!" After that visit, to the girl’s great relief, the note disappeared.

I never did know if Uncle Irvin really found those facts that funny or if he was laughing at yet another way his big sister managed things down to the detail of how many sheets of toilet paper to use. I also never knew if Aunty Joan ever really believed there was actually a note posted. Either way, it didn't matter to us, his response and Aunty Joan's disbelief was enough to make the note disappear mysteriously that night, without another word about it. It was only when I grew up that I realized how brilliantly Uncle Irvin had peacefully handled his big sister. (Without putting her down or having an argument or causing any hurt feelings.) And I never really knew if he knew he was doing it or not."

Irvin’s sister, MaryEllen wrote:

"Another very fond memory I have of Irvin was the summer in 1986 during Expo in Vancouver. Our cousin Floyd, his wife, & another couple from Florida were guests; Irvin had also come to join us. We were all about ready to leave for EXPO, and we took our turns to use the bathroom, and we waited ... and waited for Irvin to come out so Floyd asked him, "Well Irvin, did everything come out alright?"

The question caused us all to burst into laughter. Mostly we had to laugh at Irvin's laughter in response! After the laughter - we left for the Expo! The most important memory of Irvin was that he was a kind and gentle brother! Always. The last time I called him: "Merry Christmas, Irvin" ...he was so clear and happily responded!! What a Joy I have for his last reply to me!!

Many fond memories of visits and travels we all shared with Irvin will be cherished. It is always difficult to say goodbye to someone we love and hold dear to our heart.

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Bea Yamaoka

So sorry to hear about your brother, MaryEllen. While I haven't met Irvin, your beautiful tribute to him makes me feel like I do know him. You have a beautiful caring family, Irvin was very lucky to have you growing up and I pray that God will wrap his arms around you in comfort during this time. My deepest sympathy and condolences for your loss.
Take care, Bea Yamaoka (Julie Northwood)
Comment | Posted at 10:46am via Condolence

Hazel Clarke

So sorry to learn of Irvin's passing. I have fond memories of staying in the family home along with Heather and Hilary. I was only 14 at the time!
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Hazel Clarke planted a memorial tree for Irvin Schmidt
Comment | Posted at 12:05pm via Memorial Tree


Dear Janice and Ken and Family,

We are so sorry for your loss. We were not fortunate enough to know Irvin well but what we did experience of him was a fun-loving and kindhearted man. In reading all of these wonderful stories, we can see what a wonderful life he had. You have our deepest sympathy.

Our sincerest condolences,

Your nephew Steven and family
Comment | Posted at 09:15pm via Condolence

Heather, Kenny & Steven

With loving memories of "Irvin Schmidt",
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Memorial Tree Planted

Heather, Kenny & Steven planted a memorial tree for Irvin Schmidt
Comment | Posted at 09:15am via Memorial Tree

Heather, Kenny & Steven

Dear Janice and David, sorry to hear of your dad’s passing, our thoughts are with you at this time of your loss, you will miss him dearly. During my two visits to Vancouver, I stayed in Auntie Joan and Uncle Irvin’s lovely home with Janice and David. We were always made feel very welcome and they looked after us so well. We were taken to many beautiful places; I have fond memories of Harrison. On a trip to Ireland, Irvin was very keen to visit a small town in County Fermanagh called Irvinestown, he said it was his town! Irvin would tase us and had many interesting conversations. We were introduced to Irvin’s family and friends; they were lovely and we spent quite a lot of time with them. Irvin was kind and helpful in many ways and had a gentle nature, I have many lovely memories of Joan and Irvin.

I echo my sister’s sentiments; I remember Irvin's kindness and generosity fondly. I and two friends visited your home for three weeks many years ago, we had a brilliant time of nonstop activities, everyone went out of their way to make the trip unforgettable. Coming from a country town in Ireland, we weren’t familiar with fast food restaurants. Your Dad use to sneak us off to have a McDonalds breakfast a couple of times a week, those were happy days. I don't think Auntie Joan approved of her husband eating there, so he used us as a reason in case he got caught. I still chuckle when I think of that smooth operator:)

Joan and Irvin’s visits were always a time of great anticipation at the Young’s home, there was always excitement and days of endless baking in the lead up to their arrival. I didn’t make it to Canada but enjoyed those special visits. Sorry for your loss,

Comment | Posted at 09:08am via Condolence

Why light a candle?

This is why you should light a candle..

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