Leonard Kettner: 1921 to 2021, 99 years and 9 months
On February 3rd at 7:25 AM, our dad, Leonard Kettner went gently to sleep for the last time. He was buried beside our mom in Salmon Arm on Saturday, February 6th at 10:00 AM, long time friend and Pastor, Malcolm Pedlar presiding.
Here’s to celebrate our dad, grandpa and great-grandfather. 4 Children. And our collective of 14 children and 11, soon to be 12 great-grandchildren.
Here’s with a ton of admiration for a man who was at various times referred to as boss, “Mr. Faithful” (by his employer of 33 years), mentor, confidant, amazing friend and leader. 5’10” and never more than 147 pounds, he was a giant in terms of his scope of influence for good.
Those who knew him well have quite correctly referred to him as a truly gentle man. Those who perhaps only knew him for the past two or three decades might have assumed that he got gentler and kinder with age. That would be incorrect. That was just who he was . . .
A book could be written about the Manitoba farm boy who left Grade 6 following the passing of his dad to become the sole provider for his mom and invalid (polio) sister.
He was a self-taught mechanic, welder, chainsaw operator and homebuilder with a wealth of practical skills. Capable of rebuilding a car front to back, putting it back together better than factory. “If a man built it, a man can fix it.” That attitude spoke more than words in giving others around him the confidence for life’s journey – particularly because he not only took the time to teach others relevant skills – whether about building, repair and rebuilding equipment or other objects but also about navigating the path necessary to obtain the life skills required for success in life.
He was a giver – committing fully 20% of his gross earnings to the causes he believed in – no matter how much that stretched his modest budget. He converted his household to a fully vegetarian diet in his early 20’s. Never smoked. Never drank alcohol or even a single cup of coffee, preferring simply water or milk.
In 1955, having moved to BC several years earlier, he joined Jacobson Bros. Forest Products in Horsefly/Williams Lake as a millwright and rose to Plant Manager over the course of 33 years and his retirement at age 67. In the early years, his ability to do what it took, periodically working 24 to 36 hours straight to effect emergency repairs and keep the crew from missing a shift was aided by his mental and physical stamina –the ability to catch a 10-minute nap, standing up and leaning against a wall.
He never spoke of things like this or bragged. These and other stories emerged from friends and co-workers over the years. Specifics, about his patience, generosity, endurance, the ability to work despite an accident that broke the arch of his foot, and his personal will to test his ability to endure pain by always declining any form of pain control, even when having a root canal or a tooth prepped for a crown, was just part of who he was.
Then there were the conversations he would have with college students in his employ for the summer – one by one convincing them to avoid the short-term allure of the top-dollar wages provided in the forest industry, and return to university and what that would deliver long term. And then witnessing the results in graduate teachers, accountants, doctors, dentists, engineers, pastors, missionaries and more.
Enormously introverted, but out of his sense of duty and community he would regularly take on the responsibility of church board and private school board chair. His children would always smile and marvel at the irony of that – a school board chair that executed the office with calm confident competence, with nothing more than a partially completed Grade 6 by way of formal education. He committed to lifetime learning and leaning into sometimes enormous personal discomfort – provided that’s what was required to be of service to his church, community and family.
Genuinely humble – always shunning public recognition – to the extent that Verna Jacobson who always had a wonderful sense of who our dad was quipped “Knowing Leonard as we did, I’m not surprised that he died now rather than submitting to being in the spotlight, receiving the accolades and congratulations that come with turning 100”. If our dad had heard that, he would have just quietly nodded and smiled.
Here’s with thanks and appreciation to the Williams Lake and Salmon Arm Church families and their members for their friendship over the years.
With love and a lifetime of memories,
Dorothy and Don Holland
Howard and Coral Kettner
Calvin and Tamara Kettner
Dean and Cindy Kettner
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