February 24, 1938 - January 4, 2024
In Loving Memory ~
It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of John Henry Dressler on January 4, 2024. John was a beloved and devoted husband, father, grandfather, father-in-law, brother, uncle, and great-grandfather, and family was everything to him.
John was born in Melville, Saskatchewan, on February 24, 1938. He moved to Burnaby with his parents, Fred and Marie, when he was 15. He obtained a Bachelor's degree in Education from UBC and completed his Master's at UVic when his children were adults.
John met his future bride and the love of his life, Claire, in 1959; they married in 1961 and had their first child (Kirsten) a year later. Sons Matthew, Leif, and Kirk followed. He was ever a romantic, a gentleman, and a true Renaissance man, and all his life was a crusader for positive change. He was an idealist and a man of deep-rooted principles who gave generously of his time and energy.
He had many and varied interests, but his priorities were always his marriage, family, and community, and the well-being of the planet and of future generations. John's first great-grandchild, Sophie, was born in October 2023, and we know he had high hopes for the future she would live in.
John started his education career as an English teacher and went on to become a department head, vice principal, principal, and district principal at schools in the lower mainland and the Cariboo. He also sat on the school board in Maple Ridge for two years.
Teaching was more than a job to John; it was a true vocation. He saw the intrinsic worth in all young people and cared deeply about helping them recognize and reach their potential. He also made many lasting and valued friendships among his teaching colleagues. He was gregarious, personable, and inquisitive, and loved to chat with everyone he met, whether a new acquaintance or an old friend.
Throughout his life, John was a voracious reader as well as a writer, researcher, and library aficionado, and his last outing on this earth was to his beloved local library. He was a Cariboo Chilcotin Elder College founding member and instructor and planned to take another of its courses in 2024.
John loved nature and the outdoors and spent as much time as possible outside. He enjoyed camping, hiking, and exploring by foot or on road trips. Two years ago, he got himself an e-bike and regularly rode it on day trips around the region with family members.
John worked as a forester in earlier years and volunteered as an environmentalist, promoting recycling and other projects such as Fraser Valley river cleanups. He once rode his Arabian stallion from Maple Ridge to Coquitlam, where he taught at the time, to raise awareness about pollution and climate change. He was an Arab horse enthusiast and international horse show judge for more than 20 years, and raising, riding, and showing horses was a huge part of his and his family's lives.
In 1977, he fulfilled his dream of moving to the Cariboo to embrace a more rural lifestyle and to try his hand at raising cattle (as well as all kinds of other animals); he was always interested in agriculture and farming. He and Claire were lifelong avid gardeners; John supported Claire's passion for flowers, and their vegetable garden at Soda Creek was something to behold. After he retired from the education field, John worked for the PNE as director of agriculture for two years.
John and Claire also started traveling, which included trips to Eastern Canada and the Caribbean. He became a member of the WL and District Credit Union Board as another way of contributing to the community.
His most enduring passions were social activism and the promotion of social justice, and he continued to support these causes through his volunteer efforts and his work with community organizations. He loved to engage in deep philosophical discussions with his children, grandchildren, and other family members and to challenge all he knew to live thoughtfully and with purpose. His most profound love was for his soulmate, Claire, with whom he shared 62 years of marriage and family and about whom he wrote his most eloquent poems.
John is survived by his beloved wife Claire, siblings David and Martha, children Kirsten (Rob), Matt, Leif (Sarah), Kirk (Kim), grandchildren Connor (Nicole), Kiera (Dan), Rowan (Marissa), Finley, Caris, Freyja, and Leo, and great-granddaughter Sophie.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to a charity of your choice. A celebration of life will be planned for a later date.
"And as I was green and carefree,
famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing
as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman
and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills
barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams."
- (Dylan Thomas)