Bernard Andrew Albers, more affectionately known as Bernie, passed away on Tuesday May 9th at his acreage just outside of the town of Battleford. He was 70 years old. He is survived by his wife Denise, children: Christine (Jeff) Tkachuk, Pamela (Jesse) Watson and Andrew Albers, his 6 grandchildren: Alex, Matthew and Mikayla Tkachuk; Ethan, Brayden, and Liam Watson. His brother, Donnie Albers (Debbie); sisters: Sherry Enns and Deb (Lance) Petersen and many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents: Andrew & Ellen Albers; his in-laws: Elie & Doris Albers; brothers-in-law: Howard Enns and Greg Filion; sister-in-law, Theresa Albers; along with aunts, uncles & cousins.
Bernie had been a fixture in the town of North Battleford since 1974 when he began working for the city as the recreation director. He worked for the city for 33 years, eventually being promoted to parks and recreation director in 1989, a position he would remain in until his retirement in 2007. Bernie was an avid basketball and baseball player. He played baseball for the North Battleford Beavers for a number of years. Once his playing days were over, he dove into a coaching career that lasted over a decade and was involved in bringing numerous provincial tournaments to the Battlefords. His hobbies included fishing, reading mystery novels and watching whatever baseball game he could find on TV.
As a family man, Bernie was a loving husband and great father. A man of action over words, Bernie was incredibly dependable and always willing to lend a helping hand to those who needed it. He was a tremendous role model for all those around him with his work ethic, reliableness and perseverance to overcome any challenge he may face. He has had a lasting impact on the Battlefords and will be greatly missed both by his family, and the community.
We would like to thank everyone for attending the funeral and for the numerous sympathy cards, food and flowers we have received.
For those who were unable to attend and would like to view the funeral service you can do so below. Memorial donations in memory of Bernie can be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation - 1379 Kenaston Boulevard Winnipeg, Manitoba R3P 2T5. Funeral Arrangements have been entrusted to Eternal Memories Funeral Service – Vanessa Macnab Funeral Director.
Good afternoon everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Andrew Albers. I am Bernie’s son and on behalf of my family and myself, we would like to thank all of you for coming to celebrate Dad’s life with us today. It is so touching to see you all here and see how, throughout his time, dad has touched so many different lives. We are so very thankful that you have all taken time out of your busy schedules to come and celebrate his life with us here today.
We are here to celebrate Bernard Andrew Albers, more affectionately known as Bernie, a man who has left his imprint on so many of us in various ways. Whether it was as a spouse, a father, a sibling, an uncle, a friend, or a coach, Bernie was able to impact the lives of so many of the people around him in a positive way.
For me, he played so many roles, he wasn’t just my father, he was also my coach, my teacher, my mentor and my idol. As I have had the opportunity to chat with people about how they remember dad, it has truly been touching! It has been inspiring to hear how much of an impact he has had on so many of the people around him, from those he worked with at the city of North Battleford to his family or to those he coached or played with for many years. I wish I could share all of the wonderful stories people have shared with me about dad but unfortunately if I did that, we would be here all night. However, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to tell me about some memories they had of dad and how he impacted their lives, this eulogy would not be the same without those stories.
Bernie was born on May 19th 1952 in Bengough Saskatchewan. Son of Andy and Ellen and brother of Sherry, Donnie and Debbie. The family grew up on a farm just outside of Bengough in the southern part of Saskatchewan. He spent his early school years in a single roomed school house of around 25 students that he attended in Waniska. Dad was always a good student and graduated from high school in 1970 with around 20 other graduates. After high school, he moved onto Kelsey college in Saskatoon to study a recreation program. He received his diploma in recreational studies in 1973 and began his first job post college in Melville. After one year in Melville, he picked up and moved to North Battleford in 1974 where he started out as the recreation director for the city. That same year he married the love of his life Denise and they were happily married for 48 years. They would go on to have three children, Christine, Pamela and Andrew and spend their entire lives being a part of the North Battleford community where dad would go on to work for 33 years eventually moving up to Parks and recreation director for the city in 1989 a position he would stay in until he could no longer work in 2007.
Dad was generally a quiet and reserved person. A man who was much more quality over quantity with his words. Whether it was a quick quip with a one liner in his dry humour sort of tone, or some solid advice, when dad spoke you wanted to listen. One of the traits that associate the most with dad, is the fact that he was as reliable as they come. Everyone who knew him, knew that you could always count on him. As the older brother to his siblings growing up, he was always there for them. Whether it was paving the way for his younger siblings with Sherry or teaching Donnie, his younger brother, how to throw, hunt or fish or even tormenting his youngest sister Debbie as a kid, Bernie was always there for them, playing the role of older brother to a tee.
This trend continued throughout his life in all of his endeavours. Dad was always a person who could be counted on to be there, and was always someone who would do anything he could to help you in any given situation as was evident with what he did for the community of North Battleford.
Since the first day dad moved to North Battleford he dedicated a lot of his life to this community. When we were growing up, dad was always helping out with events going on around the city. Whether it was town council meetings, or sporting events or some sort of activity that needed organizing or volunteers he always seemed to have his hand in pretty much anything that was going on. I remember Dad used to have this big ring of keys, that must have had at least a hundred different keys to places in the city, There’s no way he could have known what each one of them opened but no matter where you went in the city, he seemed to be able to find a key for it to get in even if it was after hours. He became so well known around the city that as his kids, you could hardly walk around town without someone asking you “Hey are you Bernie’s kid? I know your dad, we did so and so or worked on this and that together.”
Dad really loved working for the city. He was so very passionate about his job and the relationships that he had built in his time there. Talking to some of his coworkers, dad was excellent on the sports side of recreation but was quick to understand his limitations when it came to certain things that were more on the artistic side. What he was really good at was interviewing people and recognizing the qualities they could bring in so that he could be pretty hands off in the areas that he wasn’t as strong in. This led to the hiring great people to work for the city in various areas. Dad was a conscientious and fair minded director who was ALWAYS careful with the tax payer dollars, This of course fit in very well with a quote I remember him telling me often “A penny saved is a penny earned.” A credo that also applied to his personal spending habits.
Other than working for the city, dad was very involved with the sporting community. Having played travel basketball during his high school years and any other sport he could get involved with, dad became a pretty decent athlete. He always seemed to get the most out of his ability and was able to compete with others who may have been considered a just a little more athletic. He used to play rec basketball back when there was a small league in town and of course played for the LEGENDARY North Battleford beavers. Always sporting the number 2 and playing a lot of third base, dad was probably best known around the province as a pitcher because of his funky pitching style where there were so many limbs and body parts moving in odd directions you didn’t know what to look at when standing in the box. His catcher Terry Strueby, used to tell him they didn’t need to use signs, just throw whatever junk he wanted up there and Terry would catch it. The motion was so unique that years later, during an old timers tournament, an opposing coach was filling out his lineup while dad was warming up and came to ask one of the payers whether the starting pitcher was a lefty or a righty so he could fill out the rest of his lineup card. But no matter how funky it looked, dad still managed to get a lot of guys out over his many years on the mound!
Dad didn’t just love playing baseball, he also loved watching baseball. I always kind of felt bad for my sisters because we only had one TV in our house and it had farmer vision (two channels). If dad was home, there was a good chance that we would be watching the Blue Jays game on TV that night and poor Mom, Christine and Pam were not as big of baseball fans as Dad and I. Since it was what dad wanted to watch ON HIS TV that’s what was going to be on. It got to the point that when both Christine was moving out of the house, she declared that sports would never be watched on her TV, a statement that has remained relatively true to this day. (Not counting the games I play in).
Interestingly, we would probably still have had farmer vision out at the acreage except that one year, in the early 90s neither of the channels aired the World Series. For dad that was simply unacceptable. I’m pretty sure that is the main reason that the next time we were down in Bengough dad took a trip to the states to Plentywood, where he decided to go and get an American satellite dish (because of course it was cheaper) for the house and use that to get more access to sports than we had ever had before! I know for me, I loved it!!! As for the rest of my family, I’m not so sure.
After his playing days were numbered, dad became much more involved in the coaching world. I was fortunate enough to have him coach me all 10 years that I played in North Battleford. He was an excellent coach! His determination, hard work and knowledge for the game helped us have many successful seasons. For me personally, Dad was my most influential coach and I know I would not have had the career that I did without him there every step of the way. We would always talk about our games after they were over and of course what I should have done better. But It was in these small conversations that I learned so much about the game and many of those lessons enabled me to have success as I carried on in my career. As I look out and see many of my former team mates, I know it wasn’t just what dad taught us on the baseball field that was important but more so the lessons he taught us about life and how he led us by example and was such a tremendous role model for us all.
Dad was also an avid fisherman. Taught to fish by his dad and uncle Elie, you could find dad out on a lake any chance he could get. With his yearly excursions to Flotten, or Meeting lake with his brother Donnie and friends Jerry and Kent he was sure to keep his skills sharp. There was always competition to see who could catch the most fish. Dad always told me that he was usually the winner although I find this somewhat suspicious having been fishing with him a fair number of times at Meeting lake and not catching anything! (Must have just been the wrong time of year) If he was successful on these trips, maybe it was because, according to Jerry, he had a lure for pretty much any fish you could think of. Despite that, he would generally stick with a few old faithfuls, such as a jig with a yellow tail, or the spin’n’glow because those were what he found the most success with catching his favourite fish, the coveted “walleye!”
As a family man, Dad was a faithful and loving husband and father. His relationship with Mom was a true example of how to live in faith and raise a family. As a father, he was not a man that expressed a lot of emotion, but he always showed us that he cared with his actions! He was always willing to do anything for us. Whether it be driving all the way to Saskatoon to pick Pam up after her car had broken down again, or the hours he would spend with me playing catch in the yard and giving me tips and advice on how to get better, or for Christine the hug he gave her on her first Christmas where she had to stay behind.
Dad always valued time spent with family and we would drive down to Bengough every holiday we could to be with them. Rain or shine, sun or snow blizzard, we would drive through any conditions especially for the holidays. We were so fortunate to have those precious times together at grandma’s house with our cousins and aunts and uncles as they are some of the best memories of our childhoods. Our family gatherings down in Bengough were always full of games and laughter and cheer. and that is truly a testament to Bernie, Sherry, Donnie and Debbie who always got along so well and made sure that us cousins did as well.
Without a doubt, dad’s favourite time of the year was always Christmas time. He used to love putting up decorations around the house, but especially the Christmas tree. There were never any fake trees allowed at the Albers house, because dad always used to say, “if we got a fake tree then we would be getting fake presents.” He used to love getting into the spirit by singing his favourite bing Crosby carrells on our long drives down to Bengough, this was when you knew he was in a good mood because it was rare to hear dad sing. As I later found out, this may have been due to a traumatizing choir experience as a kid when him and his cousin Rick were kindly asked to move to the back of the choir while they were singing so that people would not be able to hear them as well. Despite that, Christmas was the one time of the year when you would hear dad let loose and sing along with some of his favourite tunes.
As we got older, dad was always a man that was there for us in many ways. He was a tremendous role model and an amazing problem solver. He was a typical farm kid from those times and knew a little bit about everything and always seemed to be able to fix whatever wasn’t working at the time. He would find a way to Jerry rig all his gizmos and gadgets and somehow get them going again, usually just for them to break down a while down the road. This cycle would continue until he finally was no longer able to fix whatever it was and would break down to finally go get a better (generally used version) of whatever it was.
In 2007 dad went through a traumatic life changing event when he suffered a brain bleed that nearly cost him his life. While in intensive care, the doctors had said that there was nothing left that they could do for him and that it was likely just a matter of time before he would pass. However, in true Bernie fashion and with the help of lots of prayers, dad was just too stubborn to let go at that time. Dad was always a fighter and he fought to survive that trauma and then fought to try and get back to 100% so he could continue working for the city. It was one of the things I admired most about him and one of the most important lessons I learned from him; that was, when you commit to something, or you start something you are there to finish it and see it through. Dad never quit on anything, he would persevere and find a way to overcome adversity and challenges until he figured it out or almost willed his way to a solution. Dad had just started the plans for the Nation West field house just outside of the city and really wanted to see that through before retiring. Unfortunately he just wasn’t quite the same after this traumatic event and though it wasn’t for lack of trying, he wasn’t able to see that one through. And although after 33 years, I think I would have been happy to retire for dad, it was a difficult time because he wanted to see that project finish, and wanted to finish what he had started.
After his retirement, dad devoted more time to his family. Although the bleed changed his personality somewhat, he still found joy in being around family. This was never more evident than when he was with his grand children. They were one of the bright lights in his life. He would spoil them every chance he got. Whether it was trying to sneak them candy when their parents weren’t looking, playing games with them once they were old enough, or giving them tractor rides when they would come visit; the grandkids knew they could always get just about whatever they wanted from papa. Alex and Matthew are quick to tell you about the year the family was headed to Disney world and for months leading up to the vacation, Papa would slip them $20 every time they came to visit so they could go and buy something really nice on their trip. The younger grandkids, Mikayla, Ethan, Brayden and Liam always somehow knew how to get their papa to smile. He would light up, being around them and they brought him so much joy and happiness in his later years. It was really around them that you would see glimpses of the dad that we grew up with and catch that little twinkle in his eye when he would play with his grand children and truly share in their joy and happiness.
Dad’s love language was unquestionably acts of service. It stayed that way until the very end when he went out and picked crocuses for Mom, Christine and Mikayla, despite a bad hip that made it difficult to bend over and get up. In his final act, dad was still trying to help others when he was trying to fix his tractor in order to be able to till the garden for mom.
We have all been brought here today because of dad. However, I know that he would not want us to take this time to lament what we have lost but instead use it as a time to celebrate a man who touched so many of our lives in various ways. To come together as family and friends and enjoy each other’s company and tell great stories and enjoy companionship because we all know that these opportunities do not happen often enough anymore. So let us celebrate him by living up to the legacy that he has left us and demonstrating the values that he so exemplified in his life. Let us be humble, and praise others before taking credit ourselves, let us be perseverant and work hard to accomplish our goals and find ways to overcome obstacles no matter how big, let us be selfless and put others and their needs before ourselves, let us serve our families and communities and find ways to help and support them always, let us be people of action over words, And finally just as dad did may we all find a way to leave this world a much better place than it was when we came into it!
Thank you dad for everything that you were to all of us, we love you and we will miss you!