It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of our dear father Ralph Earl McPeek. Surrounded by his loving family, he passed away November 9, 2019 at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook, BC. Although his health had not been good for the past few years, he was a trooper till the end.
Dad's life began in the small Saskatchewan town of Mazenod. He was the seventh of nine children, born to James Earl and Dora (Née: Schobert) McPeek on January 31, 1938. Dad grew up on their family farm with many siblings and family around him. Many great stories were shared over the years of that part of his life. His strong Christian heritage played a big role in his upbringing, which carried him through his final moments.
On November 8, 1957, Dad married the love of his life Iris Shirley Thurlow in Coronach, SK in a double ceremony with Iris’ brother, Russell and his wife, Donna. Mom and Dad were blessed with five daughters over the years.
Dad was an extraordinary entrepreneur. He was ever evolving to provide for his family of seven. One of the first jobs he held was working for the Co-op lumberyard in our hometown of Coronach, SK. He also ran the local movie theater there and put on a large Christmas party each year for the town’s children. Each child got into the movie for free, got a bag of candy and got to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. Dad of course played the part of Santa.
When we moved to Regina, he did everything from campaign manager for the Ross Thatcher government, to selling life insurance, and was a liquor board inspector, along with custom combining in the summers in the heartland of the USA. Life was always an adventure with Dad. From there, the next move was to North Battleford, SK to run a KFC. Mom and Dad spent endless hours building their first new home there to give us a better place to live. Next on the list was Camrose, AB. While in Camrose, he worked for Beaver Lumber. There was a short stay in Leduc, AB, which lead to Edmonton to work for another lumber company. Finally, dad got his wish of moving to BC. The summer of 1971 saw us move to Fernie, BC to start the rest of his life. He lived forty-eight years in this town we call home to this day.
When we first moved to Fernie, Dad did construction work for a few different companies. He then decided it was time to start his own. R&M Construction was that very company. The crew worked on many of the Italian family homes in Fernie and made Dad many good friends over the years. The next business was East Kootenay Concrete, which was combined with the Apex Truss Company.
Dad reinvented himself after that, opening up his first restaurant, “Capones”. He always loved cooking, and this was his chance to get paid to do it. From there he bought a hotel/restaurant called “The Motor Inn” and ran the restaurant, bar and hotel. After several years, his health started to cause him issues and he sold the business. However, it didn't keep him down for long and off he went to Kalispell, MT to run an optical store and build fourplexes.
When he closed that part of his life off, he got the idea that he should start a fruit stand. It started with selling cherries out of the back of his van (with the help of a couple of his grandkids) to the fruit stand it is today. “Earl's Fruit Stand” went on to be in the location in West Fernie for over fifteen years. Dad finished out his final season this fall. Many people knew him as that man that sat behind the counter. He always had a smile on his face, and could start up a conversation with just about anyone.
Dad was always proud of his American ancestry and was a diehard Trump supporter. He loved to debate the political climate whether it was locally, federally or internationally. You had your work cut out for you if you tried to debate him!
Left to mourn his passing and celebrate his life are his five daughters and their families, Kim (Len) Serwatkewich, Brenda (Billy Hunter) Wagner, Sonia McPeek, Shelley (Darren) Hornquist, Angela (Tim) Campbell; eleven grandchildren, Jean Paul Milley, Alisha Trebinskie (McPeek), Jennifer (Wade) Huber, James (Sara) McPeek, Lee Campbell, Chantal (Jesse Huisman) Serwatkewich, Deanne (Grant Rhodes) Milley, Brock Hornquist, Erika Hornquist, Loralyn (Chad) Johnson, and Laryssa (Jared) Lewis; eight great grandchildren; three sisters, Irene Johnson, Hazel (Ed) Loewen and Shirley (Al) Heslop; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and countless friends.
Dad was predeceased by his loving wife of fifty-nine years, our mom Iris, in 2017. He is also predeceased by his parents, James Earl and Dora (Née: Schobert) McPeek; sisters, Evelyn, Ruth and Linda; brother, George; and great-granddaughter, Camrynn.
As per Dad's wishes, there will be no funeral service. There will be a celebration of his life in the late spring of 2020. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations will be gratefully accepted by the East Kootenay Foundation for Health “Elk Valley Hospital” (13 – 24 Ave. N, Cranbrook, BC V1C 3H9, or www.ekfh.ca). Condolences may be registered at www.fantinsfuneralchapel.ca.
Fantin’s Funeral Chapel entrusted with the arrangements.
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