It was a sad day in Golden on Tuesday Oct. 9 when news spread about the loss of one of the community’s most outstanding citizens, Paul Werner Ernst Eugen Hambruch (April 6, 1927 – October 8, 2012).
Born in Germany in 1927. He was drafted into the military at a young age, during the last few weeks of the Second World War, he was captured and became a prisoner of war.
“He lived through that, and decided he wasn’t going to war again. He had done his time,” said Paul’s son Chris. After his training as an Agriculturist the opportunity to move to Canada came about and he took it. The voyage by boat took 12 days, eleven of which he was seasick, followed by 4 1/2 days by train with the final destination in Brisco in 1953 , and he has lived in the Columbia Valley ever since.
Three years later his wife Ingrid and daughter Sabine joined him and a year later their son Chris was born. Since then their family has grown to include six grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
“His passion was family, first and foremost,” said Chris. “Some of my favourite memories from childhood were of us camping together… We would just set up a tent and camp for a week or 10 days.”
An Agriculturalist by trade, Paul loved to nurture and help things grow. When he was a teenager, living in a three-storey building he packed soil on the roof and made a big garden to grow vegetables.
“Gardening and growing things, he did that all his life. He always found a way… It wasn’t work, that was what he enjoyed to do,” said Ingrid.
Paul wasn’t bored a single day in his life, and whether it was gardening, wood working or contributing to community projects he always had something meaningful to do. Even in retirement he was always working on one project or another.
Wood working was an interest of his since childhood. After he retired he started making all kinds of things, including furniture.
“He ended up with all these little pieces of wood, because nothing ever got thrown away so it progressed into making toys. He made the best use of it. You don’t throw things away.” said Chris. “That is a trait I definitely got from him. You do the best you can with what you’ve got.”
Paul loved sharing his knowledge and his passions, and that was most evident with his volunteerism. From Invermere to Brisco to Golden, Paul was involved with countless groups over the years including; the Brisco Recreation Committee, the Windermere School District, the Edgewater Credit Union, the Windermere Hospital Board, the Columbia Basin Trust Advisory Committee, Community Futures, the Historical Society, New Horizons, the Seniors Society, Communities in Bloom, and the Rotary Club.
Colleen Palumbo, executive director of the Golden Historical Society, told a story at Paul’s memorial service about how he came to be involved with the society. He had gone to a society meeting to make a presentation for the CBT, but they were one member short of having a quorum, so they were going to have to cancel the meeting. Paul asked how much it cost to get a membership. Next thing you know he was a member, and spent the next 10 years serving as their treasurer.
“That’s just how dad was. They had to have a quorum, so he did something about it,” said Chris.
“He would never say ‘why don’t they do something?’ If it needed to be done he would do it,” said Ingrid.
During a “get to know each other” presentation at the Rotary Club, Paul created a power point presentation with photographs from his life, and shared stories with the club. It was very fortunate that Chris (who was in charge of recording the minutes at Rotary meetings) recorded the presentation, and saved it.
At Paul’s memorial service on Friday Oct. 12, family and friends were able to hear about his life in his own words when the recording was combined with the slideshow (special thanks to Mike Pecora for putting it together).
“It was a very powerful piece,” said Chris. “The inspiration for saving it (the recording), I actually have to thank Marco Shehovac. He told me quite some time ago how important he thought it was to get stories from our elders. Write them down, record them, whatever it takes.”
The Hambruch family would like to express their appreciation to everyone in the community who has shown their support during this difficult time, as well as extend a thank you to those who spoke at the service; Karen Cathcart, Colleen Palumbo, Ron Oszust and Jon Wilsgard.
“The world is less without him, and a better place because of him.”