Arlesheim, Basel-Landschaft (BL), Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera/Switzerland

[1984 Nikon FE2 SLR 35-mm roll film camera, s/n 1816483, with Nikkor AI 50-mm f/1.8 lens, s/n 2336591, and 52-mm polarizing filter;
Kodak Ektar 125 (Kodak 5101 | Ektar 125-1) 36-exposure colour negative film]

© Copyright photograph by Stephan Alexander Scharnberg, November 1991

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Obituary for Uwe Kündrunar Scharnberg

Uwe with his millionth seedling sometime in 1964.

Uwe Kündrunar Scharnberg, the first-born of his siblings, came into this world in the Schwedenschanze, a thatched hut near the village of Höhbeck-Brünkendorf, Lüchow-Dannenberg, Lower Saxony, Germany on March 10, 1929 at 23:40 and crossed the threshold in Ladner, B.C., Canada on February 19, 2015 at 04:10.

Later this hut was rebuilt and enlarged, operating for many years as a café-restaurant, until it was renovated and again enlarged to become a boutique hotel in about 2007 or 2008.

Predeceased by daughter Anya Maureen (Jim Compton), sisters Raphaela (John Bicknell) and Michaela (John McHugh); our calm, quiet, and humble father leaves behind wife Doris Scharnberg; sons Stephan Alexander Scharnberg (Elizabeth) and Felix Hayo Scharnberg (Leila), daughter Alison Oona (Chris Rachel); grandchildren Cohen Isaac Scharnberg, Serena Bell, Julia Scharnberg, Christopher Compton, Simone Compton, Christian Rachel, Fiona Rachel, and Malcolm Rachel; and sisters Frohlinde (Klaus Paasche) and Arnhild (Richard Schmidt) in Germany.

Uwe’s parents, Moritz Johann Heinrich Scharnberg and Othilie Rott, were part of the original hippy movement, Germany’s “Wandering Birds” (Wandervögel) of the 1920s and 1930s. He did not have a happy childhood, shuffled between divorced parents and off to distant relatives. His father was a vegetarian and a Theosophist, his mother an early Anthroposophist, hence his parents’ split.

My father lived with his mother in a number of locations, “all over the place” as he recently told me—Niedersachsen, Riebnitz in Mecklenburg near the Baltic coast, and later in Hamburg. As a result, it was difficult for him to make and keep friends. This and his quiet, shy, and humble Piscean nature were a challenge to friendships throughout his life.

At three years old, Uwe was sent by train from Riebnitz to Oberberbach, south of Darmstadt, via Frankfurt am Main, alone with a sign hanging on his neck directing other passengers and the conductors to escort him to his next train. In Darmstadt he was met by his Uncle Hans, husband of his first godmother, Cläre Dähke. The Dähke’s were involved in The Christian Community congregations in Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt. Also, Uwe went on a trip with his mother to East Prussia. He commenced school at age seven, only completing seven years plus one year Berufsschule (apprenticeship school), as a result of the Second World War. In those days the school year started at Easter. Uwe was not often with his father. His mother was nicknamed “Schimmel” by her friends. She was born in Barmen in the Wuppertal.

Uwe lived from 1937 to 1945 in Hamburg, with his mother until 1944: Alsterdorf, the next neighbourhood north of Winterhude, in 1937; Eppendorfer Landstraße 70, Eppendorf in 1938; at Rote(?) in 1939; with Prahl at Dammtorstraße 40III, burned out in the devastating bombing raids of Operation Sodom & Gomorah, from 1939 to 1943; and with Oberlandesgerichtsrat (Judge) Rittmayer on the Süllberg, Blankenese in 1943 and 1944.

The Jugenddienstpflicht (youth mandatory service) reaffirmed the conscription of all German youth into the HJ (Hitler Jugend) in March 1939. So, at age eleven, father had to join the Deutsches Jungvolk, the junior branch of the Hitler Youth, staying with them until war’s end. 

His mother was indirectly connected and involved with the plot on Hitler’s life in the famous attempt by Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg on July 20, 1944, that saw him and over two hundred others (mostly officers of the German Army) implicated and killed by firing squad and hanging. She was also a serious Anthroposophist, a dangerous thing to be during the twelve years of the Nazi regime, as Anthroposophy and its adherents were deemed the most strident enemy and spiritual foe of and by the Nazis. She was told to disappear. She went south in the fall of 1944 to Seelbach, Kreis Lahr, Baden, to live with her friend Edith Kelber, Uwe’s godmother, until the war ended. 

Uwe lived at the Jugendwohnheim Holzdamm (Holzdamm Youth Hostel) and on the Alster in 1944 and 1945. He did a kitchen apprenticeship in the famous Hotel Atlantik in Hamburg during the last year of the war, from April 1944 until early May 1945, the end of World War II. He also lived in Hamburg-Harburg, across the Elbe on the south shore, and in a WE-Lager (Wehr Ertüchtigungs Lager) (HJ indoctrination and training centre) in 1945. There were not enough guns for each Hitler Youth, only one gun shared by every two boys, guarding railway bridges. These were either the small-calibre Czech rifles, of high quality, or the inferior small-calibre Italian rifles. On one of his outings during free time, Uwe crossed to Hamburg, hiding the gun he and his friend shared, under a stairwell in some back street or alley as he did not want to be caught with a weapon once the hostilities ended. The boys lived in a Kaserne (barracks) of the Hitler Youth in Harburg, only two kilometres from the battle front and close to being sent into the fighting in a last desperate attempt by their commanders. The boys all knew when the British army was advancing to occupy the area. In the night of May 5, 1945 (the laying down of arms and the end of the war), Uwe and his friend were rounded up and put in the back of a British army lorry (truck) and driven north of Hamburg into the Schleswig Holstein countryside. They awoke in the crisp morning air, finding themselves laying in cow dung in a muddy field. Uwe and his friend hiked about forty kilometres to Ratzeburg where his friend’s mother lived, caring for four siblings while their father worked at the Blohm+Voss shipyards on the Hamburg docks. The British soldiers told them to make themselves scarce and left them with a large tin of biscuits which the boys brought to the mother.

Some addresses and locations I found, printed in neat hand in my father’s maps and notebooks, are: Grünmannsweg Tanzbär; Rothenbaumchaussee 39 (street running south from Eppendorf through Harvestehude to Rothenbaum); Dammtorstraße 40 III with Prahl; Esplanade 40 with “Oweh” (Otto Westphal, father of two of his sisters, Raphaela and Michaela).

He lived through the terrible bombings of Operation Sodom & Gomorrah in Hamburg during WW II. 

After the end of the war and a short time in a DP (displaced persons) camp, Uwe travelled south to his mother in Waldenbuch between Stuttgart and Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg. 

Uwe did an apprenticeship as Gärtnerlehrling (garden apprentice) in Vaihingen a/d Enz, Baden-Württemberg from August 1945 to August 1948 and then worked at Karl Hirsch’s Biodynamic Vineyard (Biodynamischer Weinbau) in Alsheim, Rheinhessen for two years.

He then learned English while he lived, worked, and studied as a garden apprentice and an anthroposophical student at Camphill Newton Dee, near Aberdeen, Scotland from February 1951 to February 1954, sharing in the community life with Children and Adults in Need of Special Care and co-workers including Karl König and Thomas J. Weihs. He was surprised he got into the UK with his temporary passport, but Camphill had a lot of pull with the authorities.

Uwe then worked at Suchodolsky Landscaping Nursery in Stuttgart for one year before he emigrated to Canada through the Assisted Passage Program in May 1955 by ship to Montreal and by train to the West Coast, arriving in Vancouver with $8.00 in his pocket. 

He first lived on Manor Street, between Willingdon Avenue and Douglas Road, in direct sight of B.C.’s Lower Mainland freeway section of Highway 401 (now Trans-Canada Highway 1) then under construction, in Burnaby for one year. He worked in Forsel’s greenhouses at the foot of Royal Oak Avenue in the Burnaby Bend area.

Uwe then started work as a tree planter for BCFP in the Nitinat area of Vancouver Island on April 2, 1956 and at Harris Creek Camp in Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, B.C. on February 11, 1959. For a short time, father lived at 1362 Comox St., Vancouver in January 1959 on a seasonal lay-off due to winter weather conditions. He eventually became foreman of the Caycuse and later Koksilah crews.

Uwe planted the valleys, plateaus, and steep slopes of Port Renfrew, Jordan River, China Creek, Sooke, Nitinat, Caycuse, Mesachie Lake, Youbou, Koksilah, Englishman River, Kennedy Lake, Ucluelet, Tofino, and Knight Inlet. Bosses included Web Binion, Rod “Pinetree” Panczyszyn, Gerry Burch, Lloyd Kiss, Bob McMillen, and Art Walker; crew included Sven Clausen, Frank White, Eldon Werk, many of European descent, a number of local First Nations people including Seymour Charlie, and hippies and the first women in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. He always got on well with the Cowichan natives. Uwe was strict but fair as a diligent, conscientious worker and foreman.

Father’s forestry crew vehicles were known as “Crummies”. Over the years I remember a yellow Fargo van, a yellow VW Kombi, a Ford crewcab pickup with one in yellow and later one in the company’s white-orange-green colour scheme of the 1970s and 1980s, and a white Toyota Land Cruiser.

He worked on a forest fire in the late 1960s in the Alberni area. Possibly it was the Taylor River “Tay” Fire from August 16 to September 1, 1967. It had started while blasting was done to remove rock in the improvement project of Highway 4 between Port Alberni and the Tofino–Ucluelet junction. A total of 2,535 hectares burned for two weeks until extinguished by heavy rain.

He retired in autumn 1983 with the unofficial world record for most trees planted by one person, over 2.5 million trees in twenty-seven years, already reaching a milestone of one million trees in 1964!

Uwe only returned to Germany four times: to meet his future bride and visit his mother in Ostendplatz, Stuttgart in early 1961; the family road trip through the Netherlands, West Germany, and Switzerland from late July to early September 1968 and scrambling home in fear of the Czech revolution; to see his mother in December 1974; and to see his father, 100 years old!, in October 1996.

Uwe and Doris had already exchanged some letters from 1959 to 1961. This matchmaking was concocted by a mutual friend, Eve Marie (von Rüschen). As they already knew much of one another through this exchange, it was soon established that they would marry. 

Mother was born in Geisweid (Siegen), (Siegerland), Hessen, Germany on October 22, 1936. Her parents were Fritz Spillecke and Ottilie Martha Papke.

Doris did a garden apprenticeship in Siegen from 1952 to 1955, continued at a Rudolf Steiner home for special needs youth and adults in Bussigny, near Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland from April 1955 to autumn 1956, and returned to West Germany to work as a gardener at the first Waldorf school, Hausmannstrasse 44, Stuttgart, Baden-Würtemberg until 1961. 

Mother emigrated to Canada in August 1961, starting her voyage on the ocean liner SS Homeric on July 24, 1961. She crossed the Great White North by train, arriving late at night in Kamloops, B.C. where she was relieved to be met by father, as promised. Let us not forget: here was a young immigrant, in a new, completely foreign country thousands of miles from home, going on the trust and the word of her husband-to-be. The black rail porters asked her, “Are you sure you will be met in Kamloops?” Father’s word was always good.

Mother asked the day off from work at a nursery on the outskirts of Victoria, in the direction of Saanich, and father was on his annual seasonal winter lay-off from tree planting. Father and mother married in a civil ceremony at the Parliament buildings, B.C. Legislature in Victoria on October 27, 1961, witnessed by father’s boss and wife, Rod and Val Panczyszyn. This was followed by father’s sister Michaela and John McHugh marrying fifteen minutes later. They all celebrated at a wonderful Swiss restaurant in nearby Esquimalt. It was the only decent restaurant in the Greater Victoria area at the time.

They drove down the US west coast on their honeymoon trip in a teal blue 1961 Volkswagen Beetle, through Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona, to northern Mexico, for four weeks in January 1962, visiting the states of Sonora and Sinaloa.

Uwe and Doris first lived on Pandora Street in Victoria, then rented a former bunkhouse on Neva Rd. in Lake Cowichan from October 1961 to early 1964, followed by a rented flatroof house on March Rd. in Honeymoon Bay until April 1966. Here they were befriended by Alan and Claire Corrigal, local pioneer farmers Charles and Alison March, and already in Lake Cowichan, Trevor and Yvonne Greene, and Hildegard Wood and her husband and two daughters. We moved to Duncan, residing in a 1938 wood bungalow at 5237 Koksilah Rd., just south of Duncan, later known as the City of Totems, in the sunny Cowichan Valley from April 2, 1966 to July 2007 when Uwe and Doris reluctantly gave up the dream and moved to Ladner, B.C.

Many wonderful years and many memories were created in Duncan, even if finances were seasonally tight. I think I speak for all of us siblings and our parents when I say that we cherish the years lived on those 3.3 acres of woodland and garden. Ironically, our parents once owned a parcel of land in the Ladner area in the 1960s, but sold it to finance the family trip to Holland, West Germany, and Switzerland in summer 1968. And our maternal grandmother, Ottilie Dapprich, visited us in the mid 1970s and then emigrated to Canada, almost 70 years old, in summer 1976. We picked her up from the cross-Canada train in Kamloops, B.C.

Uwe took his growing family went on many road trips throughout Vancouver Island, B.C. and beyond, “roughing it” with VW Beetle and later VW Bus and a large tent, including four road trips into northern Mexico: with co-worker and friend Neil Bagot in winter 1959, January 1962, December 1973 to January 1974, and December 1978 to January 1979.

Father was well read in English and German literature, held a wide interest and understanding of history, politics, and current events. He enjoyed classical music and opera, but also some contemporary music. Favourites included Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Billie Holiday, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. He enjoyed one daily unfiltered Philip Morris virginia tobacco cigarette (homeopathic prescription) for most of his working life, the occasional beer, and less occasionally a scotch whisky.

A favourite piece of advice from him was: “Measure twice and cut once.”

Uwe suffered increasingly from Parkinson’s for almost 35 years. After many years of devoted care by his wife, Doris, he was well cared for in the last several years in his nursing home nearby, where Doris still visited him virtually every day.

Cremation by First Memorial Funeral Services, Aldergrove, B.C. “The Act of the Consecration of Man” at The Christian Community, 5050 Hastings Street, Burnaby, B.C. on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 11:00 am. Rev. Susan Locey officiating. Followed by a lunch and the sharing of memories, downstairs. Flowers accepted, or contributions made to The Christian Community. The family wish to thank his doctors in Duncan and Ladner, and the nurses and care attendants at West Shore Laylum Residential Care Home in Ladner.

Uwe at home in Ladner, B.C.

© Copyright photograph by British Columbia Forest Service, 1964
© Copyright photograph by Doris Scharnberg, July 2007

1 comment:

sarakalisgilbert said...

I love this. I am a VW enthusiast and just met someone with a double cab bay crummy from MacBlo in Nanaimo. So I started researching and came across your page. It's wonderful. Thanks for sharing.