Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Father, My Hero

Family and friends. I cannot tell you everything about my father, but I am here today to tell you about the father that I knew.

He had both a knack and a love for assembling things, and attended trade school in his native Germany. In the late fifties he left family and friends behind to pursue a job opportunity in Canada. That job was here in Kitchener, where he met my mother, married, and began raising a family. Steelwork was not an easy job; it was dirty, noisy, and constantly exposed him to smoke and fumes. His love for the work may even have waned, but his love for his family was absolute and he kept at it day after day.

Dad was prompt, and appreciated punctuality in others. Unfortunately this was not a trait that I had the benefit of inheriting. At the end of high school I was late in filling out my university applications, and found myself with no plans for the years to come. Like with any problem that he faced, for this dad came up with an ingenious solution; and got me a job at the steel plant. This not only scared me back into school (which was probably according to plan) but also gave me the unique benefit of seeing my dad at his best.

He had a solid work ethic, and insisted on being at least fifteen minutes early and working right to the final buzzer, even if that meant doing a bit of clean up around the work site, instead of just leaving it to helpers such as myself. As his son working by his side, I of course 'enjoyed' the benefits of this discipline as well. As children we respect our parents implicitly, as teens we rebel, and as adults, if we are lucky, our parents earn back our respect. In my year with him at the steel plant, dad earned my respect in spades.

Through the social environment of the steelworkers I took up golf with my father, as the boys played once a week through the summer. I continued to be invited long after my days at the plant were over; right up until the day that it closed. Those were hard times for my dad, but the reputation he'd built in the industry was solid, and his old customers led to a new job that he held until retirement. They even managed to pull him out of it a few times as well.

I'm glad that dad was able to enjoy his retirement. He traveled with mom to some of the places he'd always wanted to visit; such as the Black Hills of North Dakota and the geysers of Yellowstone. He saw Canada by car when visiting my brother in B.C., and the southern U.S. on the drive to his grandkids in Alabama. He watched as his favourite Formula 1 driver crossed the line first in Montreal; continued to enjoy evenings out with my mom; and I'm happy to say, golfing along with his son.

He was my father, my hero, and my friend; and we will remember him always.

I love you dad.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tessner, Burghardt (Tom)

Passed away, after a long struggle with cancer, on Thursday, November 2, 2006 at the K-W Health Centre of Grand River Hospital at the age of 70. Beloved husband of 45 years to Lois Tessner. Loving father of Rick Tessner of B.C.; Patricia and Tim Lattner of Alabama; and Kevin Tessner and his wife Tammy Campbell of Kitchener. Delighted grandfather of Andrew and Benjamin Lattner. Dear brother of Doris and Helmut Klockzin and Manfred Tessner of Germany. Predeceased by his sister Renate and parents, Erich and Dora Tessner. Over the years Tom was passionate about playing, coaching and following soccer. Tom's family will receive relatives and friends from 12 noon - 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, November 7, 2006 at the Henry Walser Funeral Home, 507 Frederick St., Kitchener, 519-749-8467. A memorial service will take place in the chapel of the funeral home at 1 p.m. Cremation has taken place. As expressions of sympathy donations to the Grand River Hospital Foundation or Canadian Diabetes Association would be appreciated by the family (cards available at the funeral home). Visit www.henrywalser.com for Tom's memorial or to donate online.