A Celebration of the Life of

Words from the Memorial Service at the
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa,
Ottawa, Sunday, January 14, 2018

Memories from John Hefler
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My parents got to know Roy and Sylvia through the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa as well as their shared interest in social causes throughout the 60s and 70s. My mother, Kathleen Hefler, wished she could be here and asked me to pass along her condolences to the family. She shared with me many fond memories of Roy and was very saddened to hear the news of Roy’s passing.

When I learned of Roy’s passing, three words jumped out immediately… Kind, Considerate, Caring. Roy was someone that loved life!

Roy and Sylvia owned a cottage on Pemichangan and had another piece of property on a more secluded part of the lake and were looking for another family to build on the adjacent lot. They helped make the arrangements so that WE became THAT family. Without Roy’s “kindness” we would never have had the opportunity to be on this very special piece of land, next to this very special family.

As a teenager, with my parents working on our log cabin being at Pemi wasn’t always my first choice of what I wanted to be doing on a weekend or summer holiday. I would often spend time sitting on the point watching Roy guide his small Arrow sailboat effortlessly across the bay and he would always give me a friendly wave and a big smile. He also had a small boat with an old 3.5 hp motor and he and Sylvia would often putt putt along the many bays of this secluded part of the lake. I could always tell it was Roy because he wore a straw hat, held tight to his head with a lace. I thought he was the coolest dad ever.

Roy was a master with a chain saw. When my father and I would go down to seek construction advice from Roy, I was always amazed to see what he had done or was doing with his saw. He made this amazing ladder, splitting logs and making these rungs. In the eyes of this adolescent, this wasn’t an ordinary ladder but a work of art. I also loved how Roy repurposed materials and I marveled at his creative ingenuity. He used an old washing machine tub, some screening and pipes and sourced spring water right into their cottage. I really admired this because was I was the one who carried the buckets of water from the lake up to our cottage on a continual basis and wished we could also have such a contraption for our kitchen.

Each Saturday evening our whole family would be invited to the Sanders log home to play games and one of our favourite games was called “the Dictionary Game”. The Saunders had this very old dictionary with obscure words and we would take turns finding a word nobody knew and we would make up our own definitions and try to get the others to vote for our definition. You may know the game now as Balderdash. The Saunders were ahead of the times in so many different ways.

My mother and I remember the “mouse story” from one of our games night at the Saunders. We were all sitting around the living room, with the fire blazing and playing “the Dictionary Game” when we all spotted a mouse carefully making its way down the stairs where our dog was laying. The mouse would come down the stairs look at the dog and scurry back up. My mom said to the group “You don’t have to worry; our dog will get that mouse”. Well, that mouse went up and down the steps over and over and over again. Finally, Roy said, in his low steady voice “WELLLLLLL, when is she going to catch that mouse Kathleen?”. We all broke out laughing and that mouse went on to live another day. For some reason that incident is seared in our brains. It was the fellowship, the ambiance, and the silliness of the situation and we still get a chuckle as we remember with fondness that evening.

Roy’s love and appreciation for nature was very evident in how he worked with the land up at the lake. He adored working on projects, and you could always find him building and creating. There was a wonderful sense of harmony between the land and Roy. All you have to do is explore the property at 145 Baie Noir and you will see evidence of Roy all around. And now, when we go over to the Saunders cottage for games night we can see that these qualities have been passed down from father to son.