“Life is like farming. You have to prepare the land, you have to have the right seeds, continue to water, and you have to work very, very hard to make sure that everything is right and correct.” – Vincent Golshani
Delton Elmer was welcomed into the world by proud parents Andrew and Edna (Sachs) Becker on June 28, 1942, at home. The Becker family lived at Lot 13, Concession 9, Bentinck Township, on the farm that was in the Sachs name from the Crown. Delton was a surprise for the family when he joined older siblings Orval and Dorothy, who were twelve and nine years older. On their farm, the Becker family had pigs, chickens, and cows. Delton attended Lamlash Public School (SS#5) until grade eight when he stayed home to assist his father on the farm.
The Becker family were very involved in St. John’s Lutheran Church, and Delton was involved with the youth group and the Luther League, a group that played baseball, drama, and other activities. Through this group, Delton met a young woman from fifteen miles away in Normanby Township, Helen Melinda Weppler in 1961. Helen was asked to a dance in the local area, however, she thought she was attending the dance as a date of another gentleman, until Delton showed up. He had the plan all along to show up instead, and the rest was history! The two dated for two years, and were married on July 20, 1963, one of the hottest days of the year, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Neustadt.
As newlyweds, Delton and Helen lived at the Becker family farm, and started milking cows, and shipping cream (eventually going to milk). In 1964, their family grew when they welcomed their first child Tim, followed by Nadine in 1966 and Chris made the family complete in 1968. Family and farming were the focus of the Becker family. They had a hatching flock of chickens, pigs, and tapped one thousand trees for maple syrup every year (with brother Orval). In the spring, the whole family would be helping with picking stones, hay, and straw. Delton made a round pool out of silo blocks for the family, so between each load of hay or straw, they would go for a quick swim to cool off before the next load arrived. Delton had the fun task of being in the mow, and Delton’s children quickly figured out that he was scared of snakes. When the wagon of new bales would arrive, his children would find a bale with a snake in it and send it up the elevator waiting to hear his screams from the mow! No matter how much work was to be done, the Becker family were in the pews at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Elmwood every Sunday, followed by either a stop for lunch with his Mother in Elmwood or a stop at Norm’s Restaurant for a brown bag full of French Fries and maybe a drumstick treat for the way home.
In 1970, Delton and his brother Orval started their own sawmill, Becker Brothers Lumber, on the 6th of Bentinck. In 1982, Delton made the decision to sell the cow herd and he and Orval increased the cash cropping over twelve hundred acres. The sawmill then lay idle for many years until it was refurbished to build a project for granddaughter Alicia’s wedding. As stewards of the land, Delton, Orval, and their families undertook a huge reforestation project, planting 1000’s of trees on the unproductive areas of their farms.
In the 1980’s, Delton began his new twenty-six-year journey in politics, starting in a one-year term as councillor, and then becoming Deputy Reeve for a two-year term. In 1989, Delton served as the Grey County Warden, and again in 1997 and 1998. When amalgamation of municipalities occurred, Bentinck Township became part of the Municipality of West Grey. Delton became the first mayor of West Grey, serving as mayor until 2006. When election time came around, he involved the whole family, and everyone would get together to make signs. As a part of council, he sat on many boards and assisted with many projects throughout the community. Delton was on the board that assisted with the building of the Chesley Hospital and served as the chairman of the hospital board. He was also a member of the Elmwood Community Centre Board, Elmwood Fire Hall Board, Ontario Police Commission, and Roads Committee for Ontario. Bridge and road maintenance and waste management were high priorities throughout his political career. Delton helped spearhead the committee when Grey County hosted the International Plowing Match in 2004. Delton was also a key member in the development of the Grey Roots Museum & Archives in Owen Sound. Delton received the high honour of the Governor General Sovereign Medal for Volunteers. He also served on the St. John’s Lutheran Church Board.
Delton had a passion for antique cars (Hudson, of course!) and tractors. He had a 1947 Hudson truck and 1947 Hudson car, two Chryslers, a 1966 Imperial coupe, 1966 Imperial convertible, and his latest passion project was working on his 1951 Hudson Step Down. Delton was a proud member of the Hudson International Club and the Maitland Valley Chapter of HASC. Delton owned two antique tractors, both John Deere, one of them being a 1957 JD 620 that his father originally bought new. Delton restored it, doing the body and paint work along with family and friends. He often went to flea markets on the hunt for parts and pieces for all his antiques. Delton loved to tinker in his shop and had spares of everything in it. Delton always had three of the same tools. One to loan out, one to use, and one in case you can’t find your other one! In fact, he also had an extra set of tools in his shed in Florida, and the neighbours often came over to borrow tools, referring to his shop as “Becker’s Hardware!” Delton was one of the only people that had four lawnmowers for two people!! He also dug a pond at the farm for the kids to skate on. Many field stones of all sizes and colours were gathered to be used as a fieldstone front on the new house and shop, built in 2002 on Concession 6, West Grey. In 2007, Delton and Helen bought a mobile home in Poinsettia Park in Fort Myers, Florida, which consists of many friends from the Grey County area. Unable to sit still, Delton and Helen worked to renovate and repair other homes and help friends.
Delton was an avid history buff and loved learning history about his family. When he was young, his father and their neighbours started a “beef ring,” which consisted of pitching in with neighbours every week to butcher a cow or pig to supply their family with meat for the week. This was a tradition passed down through the generations. The families would get together to make their own summer sausage, frying sausage and a favourite (for some) head cheese. They also made a lot of cherished memories from their time working together producing the family recipes. This tradition also taught Delton at a young age the value of sharing with your community and showed that being involved with neighbours and others is a rewarding way to live. This lesson was something that stuck with him his whole life and was a large part of why he became so involved in helping others. Delton enjoyed reading council minutes, Ontario Farmer, Farm Show Magazine, and Hudson magazines. He liked watching videos of how to fix things on YouTube and checking for Auction and sale items online. He was also known to check with “Dr Google” for information. He enjoyed country and gospel music, and many gospel programs were attended while in Florida and at Carrick Camp in the summer. Pies (or “round things” as he called them) were something he loved and was always up for a good (slightly burnt) hotdog with his French Fries.
Delton was an ideas man and a problem solver. He always had a new idea or invention. Delton could go to bed with a problem, and in the morning, he could wake up and have the solution. He was known to many for his large hands. Delton was a very kind, generous and calm man with a depth of wisdom and was a mentor to many. He never complained, and stated it is important to “put your shoulder to the wheel and figure out a way to fix it” and “there are very few hills worth dying on.” Delton had many lessons and sayings that he lived by. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” “Always tell the truth so you don’t have to remember what you said.” “Don’t drop the ball.” It should come as no surprise that Delton was very committed to his family and his community. His family was so important to him, he took pride in his children and his grandchildren’s accomplishments.
While at his home in Fort Myers, Florida, Delton passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on January 31, 2024. Delton was 81.
Beloved husband of 60 years to Helen (Weppler) Becker. Father of Tim (Rebecca) Becker of Elmwood, Nadine (Michael) Schwandt of Hanover, and Chris (Jennifer) Becker of Woodstock. Poppa to Alicia (Cliff) Becker-Pynn, Ryan (Vicky Pratt) Becker, Ethan (Klaasje Prins) Schwandt, Connor Schwandt, Samantha (Cameron) Groenendijk, Shannon (John) Falkingham, and Cassandra Becker. Great Poppa to Jameson and Peyton. Fondly remembered by his sister Dorothy Dickison of Burlington as well as by his in-laws, Harvey (Evelyn) Weppler of Port Elgin and Harold (Kathy) Weppler of Neustadt, and many nieces and nephews. Predeceased by his parents, brother Orval Becker, sister-in-law Marion Becker, brother-in-law Gordon Dickison and parents-in-law Herman and Elizabeth (Huehn) Weppler.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley, on Friday, February 9, 2024, from 2 – 4 and 6 – 8 p.m. A funeral service celebrating Delton’s life will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Elmwood, on Saturday, February 10, 2024, at 11 a.m. Delton’s funeral service was recorded and will be available on this page of the funeral home website on Monday, February 12, 2024. Interment in St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery, Elmwood.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to Grey Roots Museum and Archives, Farm and Food Care Ontario, or St. John’s Lutheran Church (Elmwood) would be appreciated by the family as expressions of sympathy.