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February 11, 1932 - March 24, 2022
In loving memory ~
Leo was born in Workheim, Prussia on February 11, 1932 (near present day Gdansk, Poland), as the youngest child of Leo and Johanna Klafki.
In March 1945, his parents and four siblings left behind their family farm as part of the evacuation of German civilians in East Prussia to escape advancing Soviet forces. Separated from his family along the way, he was taken in by a Polish woman who, along with her own children, fed him and also nursed his recovery from Typhus; he later worked for a Polish town mayor, boarding with his family. In 1947, the Red Cross reunited him with his mother and four siblings who had been relocated to northern Germany after the war.
After five years of agriculture training, Leo immigrated to Golden, BC to work on a dairy farm in 1953. A year later he found employment with construction of the Trans- Canada Highway east of Golden.
In 1955, he put a down payment on the McBeath Farm near Nicholson, later splitting the farm with his friend Hans Sanders. The following year, he started working for the Golden Lumber Company. Introduced through a mutual friend (Uncle Philip Spaens), he met and married Rita Nolan, recently arrived from Ireland to join her sisters Nellie and Mary, in October 1958. They began their family with the birth of their first child in 1959.
In the early 1960s, the Golden Lumber Company sold out to Kicking Horse Forest Products. Soon after Leo, working as the quality control supervisor became the Interior Lumber Manufacturer's Association lumber grading instructor for the Golden region. Over the years, he participated in annual lumber grading championship contests, placing second or third twice and in 1970, proudly winning the Interior Grade Championship in Kamloops.
In 1970, Leo became a full-time rancher in a partnership raising Limousine cattle. He sold and showed stock at the Calgary Stampede and the Edmonton Farm Fair, along with other agricultural shows. During this time, he and other local farmers started the Golden 4-H Beef Club, and he became a member of the board of directors of the BC Limousine Association.
Leo returned to work for Evans in 1976, regaining his Grade A lumber grading diploma and obtaining his BC Log Scaling Licence.
Soon after he was appointed to sit on the Quality Control Committee of the ILMA, based in Kelowna. Over the years he attended numerous upgrading courses including a workshop at the Forest Products Training Institute, eventually retiring in 1996.
Meeting up with friends for morning or afternoon coffee at the Golden Baker, the Moon Cafe and in recent years, at the A&W, to attempt to solve problems of the day in this world of ours was very dear to him.
Following in the deep faith of his parents, Leo was a devout Catholic serving many years on the Sacred Heart Parish church council and as a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was also a longtime member of the Kinsmen Club of Golden.
Leo was pre-deceased by his beloved wife Rita in February 2017; he missed her deeply and we know they are together again. He will be lovingly remembered by his six children, Trudy (Chris), Jenny, Greg (Leslie), Stephan (Laura), Patricia and Richard (Carol); seven grand- children (Jaret, Dawn, Markie, Ty, Spencer, Anya and Nadia); and one great-grandson (Case), his Irish sisters-in-law Joan and Kitty, along with nieces and nephews across Canada, Germany and Ireland.
His family celebrated his 90th birthday with him in February. He was deeply touched that his A&W coffee friends and staff feted him on his birthday, and he shared how blessed he felt with the numerous birthday cards and greetings sent his way, and phone calls he received from relatives in Germany and Ireland.
The family would like to thank Dr. Clark for her steady support of dad over the years, and also his dedicated home care team. You enabled him to live independently at home until his death.
Should anyone wish to mark Leo's memory, please make a donation to the Golden Food Bank or the Red Cross.
Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.
-Meister Eckhart