John Nelis

November 17, 1931 – September 15, 2020
November 17th, 1931 – September 15th, 2020

Without warning, our beloved John Nelis departed this world on September 15th, 2020, having lived much longer than he had ever expected. Each Christmas for the last 10 Christmases he has informed us that this would indeed be his last. It is with unimaginable sadness that we announce this time he was right.
With family always foremost in his heart, John is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joanne, his son John Jr, daughter Wendy, granddaughter Holly (Rob), great grandchildren Johanna and Chase John, brother Willem, sister Areke, and the many friends and neighbours with whom he built treasured bonds over the years.
John was born on November 17th, 1931 in Drunen, The Netherlands. The 9th of 10 siblings, John spent his childhood getting into all sorts of mischief and was no stranger to “the strap” in school. John was drafted into the Royal Netherlands Army at a young age and it was then, on leave one weekend, that he met the love of his life, Joanne.
Leaving Holland a few years later, they went on to build a new life together in Canada. Beginning initially in Spences Bridge, they then moved to both Ashcroft and Merritt before settling permanently in Soda Creek. Close to Gibraltar Mine for John, with ample space for their family, gardening and animals, they went on to spend their next 5 decades peacefully in the home they loved.
John spent the bulk of his career in mining. In 1979, having found a passion for mine safety years before, John led his team to win the Provincials for Mine Rescue. He remained in the role of Safety Supervisor until 1987, when a serious heart attack forced him to slow down. After retiring, John realized how much he actually missed work and promptly returned as a first aid consultant, travelling around BC to various mines. After several more years of this, he decided to truly retire for good.
Full of direct comments, John was also a wonderful storyteller and could have a room full of people in stitches. The twinkle in his grey blue eyes and the smile of his pearly false teeth lit up the room everywhere he went.
Often doing as he pleased, John preferred to have his family & friends shout at him rather then deal with the inconvenience of wearing his hearing aids. It was with that same unhindered personality that John never let his Type 2 diabetes get in the way of his love for cookies, chocolates, and especially, cake. There was always a Kit Kat bar to be found hidden underneath the seat of his car, away from Joanne’s disapproving eye.
Recalling his youth, John spoke fondly and frequently of “the old country,” never having forgotten where he came from and the hardships of being raised in a time of war. In his middle years, John loved camping with his family, being outdoors much of the day, bee- keeping, and spending time at the lakeside cabin. John was an avid gardener and a brilliant wood worker his entire life.
In his later years, he enjoyed fishing with his son, coffees with his daughter, and going for weekly visits to his great grandchildren. His other notable loves included frying bacon at 3 AM (when his day began), Western novels, Storage Wars and Survivor, sudoku puzzles, canned meat, and a wool sweater knitted by Joanne 40+ years ago.
In addition, the family wishes to thank Dr. Werner Engelbrecht for all his care (and patience!) with John over the past years.
Following his wishes, there will not be a service, as he was never one for sentiment. Beyond anything we can ever express into words, our beloved John will be missed immeasurably.


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