Karl Wiebe – Eulogy

Karl Franklin Wiebe was born June 17, 1968 and lived with his parents Frank and Kathy Wiebe in Vancouver BC.  They moved to the Fraser Valley shortly after, later welcoming their second son, Chris to the family. As a young boy Karl engaged in typical things like rotten apricot wars and garden soccer at Oma Wiebe’s place.  While eating borscht or vereniga with Oma afterwards, I don’t think he realized that the gardens on either side of Oma’s front yard were quite a bit worse for wear in their role as goalies.  Years later when Oma passed away, Karl was given her guitar.  He was incredibly moved by this precious connection because of their shared love of music.  Karl also adored his Oma on his mother’s side.  On a recent trip to Kelowna to visit cousins he brought along his beloved stewing pot that Oma had given him!

Those Kelowna summers also included fishing at Uncle John’s house on the lake where he would stretch his stay as long as possible until finally Uncle John smiled and said “time to go” and off he’d go fortified with his “bag of gold” candy! His cousin Ramona described him as kind, sweet, lovable, sometimes a pain in the but, however, an all around amazing good guy! He loved soccer, comic books, Marvel and Lord of the Rings, including Gollum impersonations!  And of course Karl enjoyed those summers in the Okanagan building tree forts, except for the infamous day when his cousin Dave accidentally pushed him over the side, citing that Karl was “in his way”, as Karl bounced off of tree branches rather unceremoniously all the way to to the ground!  Chris witnessed it all from below. Another time Karl thought it would be fun to put a firecracker into an apple and when it didn’t explode he of course went over to check it out, at which time the apple DID explode causing complete chaos and his mom quite hysterical, as Karl ran in circles yelling, “I’m deaf”, “I’m deaf”!

In his teen years Karl was known as outgoing, a wee bit crazy and a super fun personality. He was always making friends everywhere he went.  One time he and Dave went to Expo 86 in Vancouver with the sole purpose of looking for girls.  An unsuccessful venture. But fun times nonetheless.  They also rather unintentionally got trapped in the Kelowna Regatta Riots and may or may not have gotten Oma a bit worried as he didn’t get back to her house until 6am the next day. Then there was the time at Big White on a beautiful sunny morning, when Dave and Shane (in full ski gear) waited for Karl while he was in the bathroom FOR 45 MINUTES.  Then, of course there was the spitball wars; shooting spitballs at the wooden 3 dimensional wall hangings in Oma’s basement  while singing Pink Floyd’s “we don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control”.  Years later the spit balls were all still there.

As a young man, Karl worked at the video rental store in Abbotsford and accompanied his dad, on welding jobs.  He later was a Welder/Pipefitter in Alberta and worked for the Ironworkers Union, Boilermakers Union and UA Local 170.  He travelled regularly for jobs to Fort McMurray and Kitimat.  He met Sherry in the mid 90’s at the Vineyard Church in Abbotsford where they both attended.  They’d seen each other from time to time and he noticed her love for God during worship times.  One day after church Sherry was driving home with her friend and they noticed Karl driving right beside them staring and laughing and making faces, being all smiley and motioning for them to pull over at Robin’s donuts.  Laughing, the two girls pulled over and soon, laughing turned to love. Karl and Sherry were married on August 11, 1996.  By the way, Karl may have found other friends that way as he regularly was looking into people’s car windows with a huge grin, wondering if he might know the people inside!

Karl became friends with Greg through church and later Shan. Greg remembers Karl to be the kind of person who was genuinely authentic and despite Karl’s struggles with alcohol, through it all he was an excellent listener and friend.  They listened to music and talked around many campfires, chatting about God, life and kids.  There were deep conversations through the ups and downs in which Karl showed compassion, humility and a deep love for others.  And always, he would bring conversations back to God.  He was a steady influence who cared about his work friends and others in his life and was like an uncle to Greg and Shan’s kids, showing up at special events, their birthdays, at Thanksgiving and at Christmas.

On March 18, 1999 Karl and Sherry welcomed little Sarah to their lives!  Karl was absolutely mesmerised by this little bundle, noting every movement and every sound she made.  He took great care with her except for maybe that time he dropped her and her car seat into the water at Cascade falls (she dried off, it was fine) and then the time he accidentally walked too close to a ceiling fan with her on his back and her head got a bit grazed…but again, she was fine!  Sarah brought out a tender side to Karl and he was over the moon happy every time he was with her.  Karl was “thoroughly enraptured” by Sarah, always talking about her and all her achievements as she grew.  He missed being with her when they were apart.  As a young family, the three of them took a road trip to Ontario to visit Sherry’s family one year and on the way home there was a huge thunderstorm, with pouring rain.  In typical fashion, Karl stuck his arms out the window, laughing in that “Karl style” while suggesting that maybe he would get struck by lightning and terrifying poor Sherry in the process.  He definitely had a silly side and always had a funny story to share!  In those years Sherry described him as charismatic, affectionate, (always hugging people), empathetic, compassionate and he always tried to understand people and relate to them.  He valued family and friends and was always wanting to learn more while he read books like “Utmost for His Highest” and other Christian and self-help books.  He liked studying the Bible with Sherry and his Bibles were covered in highlighted verses and personal notes.  He talked about God all the time and loved worship songs particularly listening to Larry Norman, Rebecca St James, Michael W Smith and Petra.  They worshipped together all the time with Karl playing his guitar.

As Karl struggled more with addictions and subsequently poor mental health, eventually he and Sherry divorced.  This was difficult for everyone, and it took several years for them to achieve a new normal and be at peace with each other.  He texted with Sherry, saying, “there’s my baby momma!” and would recognize and appreciate what a good job Sherry had done raising Sarah into a lovely young woman.  Karl continued to be a welder with consistent work trips.  Even when there was conflict, Karl ALWAYS provided for his family to the best of his ability, through the MEI years and post-secondary school.  He had goals for his own health and while in treatment achieved successes, overcame significant obstacles and was able to stay “clean” for periods of time.  He was very comfortable with expressing his emotions and wrote so many thoughtful and beautiful cards to Sarah, his “baby girl”, on her birthday, at Christmas and many spontaneous cards “just because”, saying that he loved her and wanted to express it. He had many supportive talks with Sarah and would always say just the right thing to help and even in her times of deepest anxiety he seemed to know just how she was feeling.  He was always emotionally there for Sarah. In his later years he also worked at his relationship with his brother Chris and family and showed understanding and acceptance of their differences.  And no matter what, through it all, he always loved Jesus.

AND, just so you know Sarah, HE FOUND OUT about your boyfriend and had every intention of talking to you about it, and would have loved to have a chance to do that.

He had a heart of kindness which came out as Karl became his dad’s caregiver before he passed away.  He loved his parents deeply even though sometimes their relationship was rocky.  During Covid, it tore him up inside that he couldn’t visit his mom while she was in a care home and he talked about how much he cared for her.  Karl took it very hard at both of his parent’s funerals.

Sometimes he would text Sherry and say “I’m looking at pictures” and he would describe memories of Sarah and his family and all their adventures together.  And if there wasn’t an adventure to be found, Karl would turn the ordinary into an adventure.  Like the time when he wanted to have a funky outdoorsy meal with Sarah, so he pulled out the camping stove “just because” and made one of his amazing steaks that he was so proud of, out in the backyard.  And in the midst of it, always obsessing about the vices of ketchup.  Ketchup is an awful thing, way too much sugar and food colouring.  Karl was non-stop on the dangers of ketchup, and “all for” eating your veggies and taking vitamins.  Karl loved taking fishing trips with Sarah and teaching her to slow down and relax, not join in on the “rat race”.  He also TRIED to teach her to play guitar, but that was a work in progress!  He was a good and comforting, relaxing presence.

Karl “felt deeply” and that explains his connection with music including both worship music and of course those classic heavy metal bands. And he loved his guitars.  His collection included his traveller mini guitar that he took everywhere, 4 amps, 11 other guitars and a boat load of other music stuff. It is believed that Karl actually built one of the guitars himself!

In his last years, he became close with his “Freedom Family” and joined in on many house parties and took pride in standing up for what he believed in.  This group of friends shared many laughs, talks and bonding moments together.  At a recent graduation party, he sat and played guitar for hours and in fact sat in one spot for so long that he killed the grass under him and it remained a dead patch for weeks!  He always managed to get Jesus into a conversation with any and all types of friends.  He talked about Dennis and Justin, and so many others and his deep appreciation for these friends.  If you are sitting here today, it’s probably because Karl showed his infectious enthusiasm and love to you too!

When Sarah was going through some of Karl’s things, she found documents suggesting that Karl has struggled with congestive heart failure since 2016, but he didn’t share this with his family.  About two years ago, Karl suffered a heart attack and his heart actually stopped.  He recovered and was able to continue his mission of talking about Jesus and sharing God’s love with all the people in his life.  We are grateful for this extra time we had with him and remember all the good things, from spitballs and farmer sausage, to pellet guns and fishing with Sarah.  He would give the shirt off of his back to the homeless, had a heart of gold, was incredibly sweet, hilarious, forgiving, non-judgemental to all.  We will miss you Karl.