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Carl Wathke

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Carl Gordon Wathke was born on Lot 13, Concession 12 of Sullivan Township on Monday, May 27, 1935. He was welcomed by his parents Enoch John and Sarah “Sadie” Justine (Batterman) Wathke, along with older brothers Henry (1925), Wallace (1927), George (1931), Stewart (1933). The Wathke’s home was built by Carl’s grandfather, August, from 1900 – 1904 and remains in the family until this day. In 1938, the family was made complete with the arrival of Maurice.

The boys had many daily chores including helping their father in the barn. They fed hay, chop, cleaned the stables, and then put down fresh bedding. The work was never-ending but many hands made light work! When not in the barn Carl could often be found out in the bush cutting firewood, as the Wathke family used this to supplement income. In those days, a cord of wood was $6, imagine! It wasn’t all work and no play though, as many memories were made making maple syrup each spring. Carl also enjoyed playing baseball, sledding in the winter months, as well as visiting family. Other childhood memories included the arrival of a telephone in the family home in 1948 and hydro in 1952.

In his memoirs, Carl joked that at the onset he did NOT like school very much, but he ended up going for 62 years! 🙂 He attended S.S. #8 Sullivan (Sharon School) before needing some encouragement from his parents to attend high school in Chesley. Carl’s father, Enoch, made the commute a little easier in 1949 when he bought the first “school bus” which transported kids from Sullivan to Chesley for high school. Sadly, Enoch passed away suddenly in 1951, Carl was only 16. Sadie encouraged the boys to remain in school and that they did. Away from the books, Carl enjoyed playing on the school basketball team where his height didn’t hurt, as he played Centre.

In the fall of 1954, with encouragement from Mom, Carl attended Normal School in Stratford, graduating in May of the following year. He was immediately offered a job at USS (Union School Section) #16 “Beattie’s School” where he began teaching in September of 1955. His starting yearly salary? $2,400. Carl moved often in the early years as teachers were scarce, and he enjoyed the different experiences in different areas. In 1956, Carl took a job at Victoria Public School in Owen Sound, before he applied to a “Want-Ad” in the Globe & Mail for a job opportunity in Kapuskasing. In 1960, he began at Diamond Jubilee Public School in Kapuskasing, now making $5,100. Who knew then that that would forever change Carl’s life? In his own words, Carl stated, ‘My “single” life had the beginning of its “demise” in December 1960, in St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Kapuskasing. I was worshipping at the Anglican Church when Gwen’s mother, with an eagle eye for a possible son-in-law, introduced me to her daughter Gwen, who just returned home to work in the local hospital as a registered nurse; as the old saying goes, “The Rest Is History.” While dating Carl had taken a principal’s position in Wellesley and Gwen had enrolled at the University of Ottawa Public Health Program, so to say they managed a long-distance relationship would not be an understatement. The young couple wed on Saturday, July 7, 1962 at the same St. Mark’s Anglican Church where they first met.

They soon called Guelph home where Carl worked at King George SR, Public School, and Gwen at the local health unit when Carol arrived. In 1964, the Wathke family returned to Carl’s roots and the Chesley area where he began teaching at Wiarton High School. An avid learner, Carl continued summer school and completed his BA at Wilfrid Laurier University 1964. From 1965 – 1967, Carl taught at Chesley District High School; during this time their second daughter, Kathy arrived. By 1967, Carl returned to elementary school and settled at James A. Magee Public School in Hanover where he taught Geography almost exclusively to grade 7’s and 8’s. Shortly after, the Wathke family was made complete with the arrival of Margot. In addition to creating life-long relationships with a variety of staff and students, Carl loved the many “field trips” whereby the students (and Carl) got to get outdoors and explore God’s beautiful earth. In 1975, the Wathke’s purchased a farm in Arran Township before building a new home on the farm property in 1983. Retirement for Carl came on June 28, 1989, when Gwen in cahoots with the staff organized a limo ride (with a full course breakfast and champagne…) to his final day of school. It was a very memorable day for a variety of reasons; however, all good things must come to an end and Carl proceeded to the next stage of life, retirement.

In retirement, Carl raised beef cattle on grass which he enjoyed very much! In true Carl fashion, profits were returned to some charitable cause, such as a water well in Ethiopia, or several other projects of Canadian Lutheran World Relief. Carl obtained his school bus driver’s licence using one of his brother Stewart’s school buses. For 15 years he transported local children to and from school daily.

The additional time allowed Carl and Gwen to travel more along with family. This time was known as the “travelling years” whereby they enjoyed six different overseas flights. The most memorable and significant trip however was to the Holy Land, Israel, in 2016. Carl and Gwen traveled with their entire family of sixteen including their great-granddaughter, Georgia Leigh, of only seventeen months. They had their own personal tour bus and an accompanying tour guide for their whole twelve-day stay. This trip created so many memories that will last for years to come. Other adventures took Carl to twenty-one Luther Laymen’s League Conventions throughout North America, as well as several trips to both the Maritime provinces and West to British Columbia.

In 1990, Carl constructed a two-story woodworking shop on their property. Here he spent countless hours working on a variety of creations. White ash was his favourite wood and he had an abundant supply around the farm. Today, many of Carl’s creations can be found in local churches, or in the homes of family and friends. His talents will be treasured and enjoyed for many years to come.

Carl’s faith was strong and ever-present throughout his entire life. From his early days attending St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Marmion Carl knew that the most significant legacy that anyone could have given him was to know Jesus and believe in Jesus as his Saviour. He attended Sunday School, with the yearly Christmas program acting as a highlight for him. Carl was confirmed on May 28, 1950 in Desboro Lutheran Church. and later enjoyed being active in the Young Peoples’ organization, better known as the “Walther League.” In his years away from home he enjoyed Baptist and Anglican church services as his “substitute” and at no time did he ever miss worshipping somewhere. He later became involved with “The Lutheran Laymen’s League” and as mentioned previously attended many conventions, often with Gwen and the girls. In recent years he remained active in the promotion of outreach ministries, and also became involved in The Gideons, and the Queens Bush Rural Ministries. All these commitments were in addition to his active involvement with his own church, Faith Lutheran Church in Desboro. Carl’s most recent honour was receiving the Delta Chi (Servant of Christ) award in 2020 from Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, which recognized his service to the church throughout the years. What an honour!

Carl loved his family dearly and enjoyed spending time with him. It could have been a family outing, a holiday gathering, or attending worship together, it didn’t matter. If he was with family, Carl was happy. He was always there to help, offered encouragement when needed, and was extremely proud of everyone’s accomplishments, especially his grandchildren. Most recently, he enjoyed getting to know the most recent arrivals, his great-grandchildren. Although his time with them was limited, Carl will live on in them through the many stories and life lessons that will be passed down to them.

Carl did not have any regrets. He had no claim to fame, however, his desire for everyone whom he shared Jesus with, was “Believe” in Him, “Trust” Him, “Obey” Him – and we will meet in Heaven where we will live together forever. Carl peacefully went to be with his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with his wife by his side, on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. He was 86.

Beloved husband of Gwendolyn (Haack) for 59 years. Loving father of Carol and her husband Bill Kuhl of Keady, Kathy and her husband Tom Kuhl of Vineland, and Margot Wathke of Hanover. Cherished grandfather of Mark (Allison), Matthew (Christina), Sarah (Alan Reif), Rachel, Nicholas, Christian, and Nathan and great-grandfather of Georgia Leigh and Ethan Alexander. Carl will be dearly missed by his brothers George (Maxine) of Port Elgin, Maurice (Lois Ann) of Kitchener, and sister-in-law Lloye Wathke of Desboro. He was predeceased by his brothers Harry, Wallace, Stewart, and his parents Enoch and Sadie (Batterman) Wathke.

A public visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Sunday, July 25, 2021 from 6 – 8 p.m. A graveside funeral service and committal, officiated by Pastor Brian Dunlop, will be held at Faith Lutheran Cemetery, Desboro on Monday, July 26, 2021 beginning at 11 a.m. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Lutheran Hour Ministries, The Gideons or a charity of your choice would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

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Scott Christopher
August 18, 2021

I remember him well from the mid 1980’s teaching us at James A. Sometimes he would even sing. Great teacher. My condolences. He had a joy in his heart .

Joan. & Alex Cruickshank
August 1, 2021

We wish to express our sincere condolences in Carl’s passing. Our mother Clara Klages was so proud of Emma and her being Carl’s godparents. The Wathke family was always a big part of our lives when we were growing up. We’ll never forget him. He was one of the ‘best’!

Ruth Davis(Sheasby)
July 31, 2021

Dear Carol, Bill and Family, My condolences to you and your Family at the passing of your Dear Dad. I know he was so very special to all of you.
Sincerely, Ruth

Howard and Kathy Tedford
July 30, 2021

We are so sorry to hear of Carl’s passing. Our Sympathies to the entire family. Peace be with You.

Phil Taylor
July 29, 2021

It was a pleasure having Mr. Wathke as my teacher. Thank you Carl for your support during my formidable years. My sincere condolences to the Wathke family for their loss.

Joleen Nickel
July 27, 2021

My deepest sympathy Gwen, Carol, Kathy, Margot and family.
May your memories give you comfort and strength.

Mary and Darryl Klages
July 27, 2021

Our deepest sympathy to Gwen and family at this sad time..Carl will be missed .

Randy & Sharon Vanwyck
July 26, 2021

Carol and Bill and family: Our sympathy to you at this sad time. May the memories of happy times shared with your father stay with you forever.

Marcia Burt
July 26, 2021

My condolences to the Wathke family. I had the honour of being both a student and then many years later a colleague of Carl’s. He was always interested in learning new techniques and being relevant to his students. A true mentor for me. May God bless you during this time of loss.

Janet and Bill Hatten
July 26, 2021

Gwen, Carol, Kathy, Margot and your families – sending along our condolences. We are thinking of you all. I remember the skating rink Carl made in the backyard. What fun we had! Countless cherished memories become so special, may they give you comfort.

Jack and Ellen Cavill
July 26, 2021

Our sincere sympathy in the loss of a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will be missed.

Stephen &Lara Dow
July 25, 2021

I always enjoyed a chance to speak with Carl at any Watke Family events I was able to attend. My sincere sympathies to all my Watke relatives on your loss Stephen Dow, on behalf of our family.

John and Janice Klages
July 25, 2021

Gwen, Margot and Carol, Cathy and your families. Sending healing thoughts, prayers and comforting hugs to you all at this difficult time. Carl truly loved his family and had such a positive impact on everyone he met. He touched the lives of many through his faith and being the kind gentlemen he was. Looking back recently at some pictures of the church 100th Anniversary with Carl in costumes made me smile and brought back lots of great memories. God’s Blessings to you all.

Carley Family
July 25, 2021


Sympathy for you and your family from my sisters Margaret Anne (Stan Zagrodney) Sarnia, Phyllis Smith, Nelson B.C., and me Stewart Carley, Toronto. What a wonderful thing to have met each other . . . and at church!

Vicki Litt dickert
July 25, 2021

Thankyou mr watke for making geography fun my condolences

July 25, 2021

Mr. Wathke was a wonderful teacher. Always looked forward to his class. ( James. A. ) My condolences to you.

George and Norma Klages.
July 25, 2021

Our thoughts and prayers are with family. Carl will be missed

Dan, Lisa, Robert, Ryan, and Mark Hardman
July 25, 2021

Our deepest sympathy. We will miss Carl very much. He was a very good friend.

Allan and Gerry Galbraith
July 25, 2021

Our thoughts and prayers are with you Gwen and all the Wathke family at this sad time. Our sincere sympathies to everyone

Glenna Buĺlock
July 25, 2021

I knew Carl from our high school days.My sympathy to the entire family.

Peter and Ann Clements
July 25, 2021

What wonderful memories we have of our times with Carl and Gwen while directors on Queens Bush. Our excursions to meetings or pot lucks where always memorable with so many stories, some true and I am sure some exaggerated. He certainly loved raspberry pies and always headed back for the last piece. We had such good times and he will be fondly remembered as a good friend and confidant. We will keep your family in our prayers.

Louise E Kazarian-Hodder
July 25, 2021

Carol and family,
Our condolences to you and your family on the passing of Carl. We are going to miss Carl at the Village Seniors Retirement Community. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. Louise & Will Jr Kazarian-Hodder and Willis Hodder

Carol and Jack Patterson.
July 24, 2021

To the Wathke family we send our condolences. I heard many stories from Jack as they spent time together in the school bus on the ride back from Chesley. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this trying time. Carol and Jack Patterson.

Christine & Henry Winkels
July 24, 2021

Gwen, girls and family, our sympathy goes out to you all. I remember you being neighbours in Chesley. Carl always made sure he’d say hi when ever we saw him. Sorry for your loss, Thinking of you.

Tom & Karen Sweiger
July 24, 2021

To Gwen, Carol, Kathy, Margot & the entire Wathke Family. Sending our sincere condolences. It was always such a pleasure talking with Carl on the farm. Carl was involved with many different things and was a very community oriented person. We always looked forward to seeing our neighbour, and his elaborate seasonal outdoor displays (before he moved to Hanover). We have many fond memories and are saddened to hear of his passing. He will be missed.

Joan Whitney
July 24, 2021

My mom(Grace Ruhl) and I used to walk with Carl at the Keady arena..I mentioned to him that I had my dad’s old Desboro ball uniform and asked him if he would like it..he was so happy to get that uniform and took a picture of him dressed up in it..a nice memory of him and my dad..Joan Whitney and Grace Ruhl

Tony Clark
July 24, 2021

He leaves a big hole to fill -My sympathy to Gwen, Carol and Margo

Karen Porter
July 24, 2021

So sad for the Wathke family. Glad to have spent a bus trip with him and Gwen and Margo to Noah’s Ark, Kentucky. Will miss him!!

Brent & Cheryl (Hammell) Leifso
July 23, 2021

Sharing our sympathy with Gwen and the entire Wathke family. We are so sorry to learn of Carl’s passing. He was a friendly neighbour and bus driver always happy to say hello and ask how we are doing. Thinking of you all during this difficult time.

Janice Deremiens & Francois Labelle
July 23, 2021

Gwen, Carol, Kathy, Margot and respective families. We are so sorry to learn of Carl’s passing. He will be remembered for his faith and quick wit. I recall doing the labyrinth behind Barbara Chadwell’s church in Midland years ago. He was very competitive!
We recall his visit to our farm years ago. He will be missed. Love, Janice & Francois ♥️

Lloyd W. Leonard
July 23, 2021

Gwen, Carol, Kathy and Margo and the whole Wathke family;
So sorry to hear of Carl’s recent passing. I know how much love there is in your family , and while that helps in days like these, I also know how much he will be missed. My heartfelt prayers and condolences go out to you. May God bless you all !

Lloyd Leonard

Mary Oswald-Swartz
July 23, 2021

Gwen, Carol and family. My deepest sympathies to you and the entire Wathke family.

Jim Lang
July 23, 2021

Dear Gwen and family, my condolences. Carl was a friend and a friend of the Lang family.. Carl was an inspiration to me as we worked together in the Lutheran Laymen’s League. Till we meet again.

Jim & June Gowan
July 23, 2021

So sorry to hear Carl passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Rita Cronkwright
July 23, 2021

Gwen, Carol,Kathy,Margo,
Our deepest sympathy, on the loss of Carl.

Adam & Janice Gateman
July 23, 2021

We are so very sorry for your loss

Adam & Janice Gateman
July 23, 2021

We are so very sorry for your loss.

terry murphy
July 23, 2021

I always will remember the good talks we had together, while helping produce his own history of the family, we felt in a way like part of the family, many good stories Carl was a very generous man, he will be missed we would like to give Gwen our prayers ,remember all the good times and there were many.

Jim and Patricia Golem
July 23, 2021

We always enjoyed chatting with Carl and Gwen and especially Margot. You have been near and dear to us over the last few years, especially with your visits. Memories can never be taken away so hang on to them. You have so many after such an interesting life.

Steve, Angela, Jessica & Nicole Westman
July 23, 2021

Gwen, Margot and Family. So sorry to hear about Carl’s passing. He was one of my favourite teachers at James A. Magee and then we always had great chats at the Watke/Wathke reunions. He was a true Gentleman and will be missed.

Peter & Jacqui Knipfel
July 23, 2021

We were so saddened when we heard of Carl’s passing. He was a loyal customer at the Grocery Store for years. We always looked forward to his shopping visits with Gwen. His smiling face and quick wit will be missed by all of us. He loved to guess the weight of the Bananas before they were weighed at the checkout. He said if he guessed the weight correctly he should get them for free. We had a wonderful visit with him recently in the Parking lot while Gwen shopped. So glad we had that last chat with him. A great way to remember him. Our sincere condolences to Gwen and the entire family.

Beatrice Sacks
July 23, 2021

I used to go on the school bus with him. His brother drove the bus at that time.
I know he will be greatly missed

Gary & Carole Rahn
July 23, 2021

Our sympathies and are prayers are with you and your family at this time.

Kathy fry Hachey
July 23, 2021

Condolences for your loss. prayers for your family at this time. He was a man who helped and touch a lot of people lives.

Ron Fischer
July 23, 2021

Dear Gwen, Margot and family
Sorry to hear of your loss in Carl’s death. Take heart in the promises of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We have enjoyed many wonderful experiences together from Teachers’ College to work with the LLL. Carl was always a straight shooter with a wonderful sense of humour. Blessings as you continue your lives through His grace.

Rhonda and Stephen Klinck
July 23, 2021

Our sympathies to your whole family. May the faith in Jesus that we share, be your strength and comfort now and in the days to come. Carl was an inspiration and a good friend to the LLL, to us, and many others.

Liz Kueneman,
July 23, 2021

So little space and so much good to say about Carl ! As a colleague , at James A Magee, I am able to say that he was a perfect example of what a teacher should be – respect, a teacher , a mentor , as well as teaching more about life than just from a book. He would greet everyone with a smile and shake your hand . A true gentleman ! Certainly enjoyed those years . Condolences to his family and friends. Liz

Desboro Agricultural Society
July 23, 2021

Thinking of you Gwen and all of the Wathke family with our deepest sympathy on your loss of Carl. We have lost a long time exhibitor, dedicated supporter and fair day helper of our society. Carl will be greatly missed on the platform announcing fair day events and the special events committee will miss his entertaining commentary for the frog jumping contest. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Dave & Jennifer Bryson
July 23, 2021

Dear Gwen, Margot & Family,
We have enjoyed our conversations with Carl and the wisdom he has shared with us. Sending our condolences and prayers to your family.

Emily McLean
July 23, 2021

My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.

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