“Excuse me, would you come here please?” The female would usually oblige and approach Lorne. “Would you put your forehead on mine please?” and again nine times out of ten he could convince them to participate… he had them right where he wanted them… literally! “Knock, knock.” Who’s there?” “Emerson” “Emerson who?” “Emerson nice boobies ya got there”… And then came the laughter! Congratulations, if this sounds familiar, you had the pleasure of meeting the one and only Lorne Beitz! In comparison, if you are a male, you have probably experienced the “Half Nelson, Full Nelson, and Father Nelson!” 🙂
I can say confidently that anyone who was lucky enough to meet Lorne never forgot the man! He truly was one of a kind! Lorne delighted and lived to make people happy and see them laugh… and he had a hoot in the process – never worrying too much! Thankfully these stories, and his countless jokes, remain with us, as we mourn this wonderful man.
Lorne Austin Melvin was born on Friday, July 21, 1944, on the family farm on the 4th of Carrick. He was the eleventh of Anthony and Johanna (Hehn) Beitz’s fourteen children, following Joseph (1929), George (1930), Clarence (1931), Anna (1932), Harvey (1934), Florence (1935), Catherine (1937), David (1938), Melvin (1940) and Eugene (1942). The Beitz’s operated a mixed farm, and soon the family was made complete with the arrivals of Theresa (1946), Lorraine (1947), and Gerald (1951). The children attended S.S. #8 Carrick where Lorne endured school until the third week of grade 8. It was then that Lorne confronted his teacher, “If you don’t know what 2 + 2 is then why am I here?” Needless, to say, his formal education was done, and Lorne never looked back!
At the age of fourteen, Lorne took his first job with Fuller Brush as a salesman, before spending time picking tobacco in Tillsonburg. His plumbing career began when he started with Jack Blackwell in Teeswater. His next stop was with Keip Plumbing in Formosa, but unfortunately, a soft spot began to surface in Lorne. Every Friday meant lunch (and a beer or two…) at the hotel. As the story went, he was fired every Friday afternoon only to be hired back every Monday morning… only Lorne could pull this off! By eighteen, Lorne was looking for a change of scenery and jumped on a train in Mildmay and headed west. He disembarked in Camrose, Alberta where he quickly applied himself and worked hard to obtain his plumbing ticket. Lorne’s, and many others’ lives forever changed in the spring of 1965, when he attended an open wedding reception near New Norway, Alberta. It was here where he was introduced to a young woman by the name of Diane Phoebe Mae Johns. The two quickly hit it off, and Lorne was soon hired by Diane’s parents to help with fieldwork. One evening, Diane was milking cows, while Lorne sat and watched (of course). During the conversation, the topic of smoking came up, and he surprised Diane with the line, “I want to learn how to smoke!” The antics of Lorne Beitz were only starting, just ask Diane. The story included a dinner out, Diane’s white pants, and a bottle of Ketchup… I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. While we are on the colour white…
“Why do new brides wear white wedding dresses? So, the dishwasher matches the rest of the appliances!!!”
Lorne and Diane were wed on Tuesday, April 26, 1966, in Hobbema, Alberta by Father Parody. That same day, they left for Ontario, before a freak snowstorm halted their travel in Saskatchewan for three days. The newlyweds settled in Waterloo, where Lorne found work with Hadco Well Drilling. In the months following, there were stops in New Hamburg and Elmira, before heading west again and settling in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. By this time, the Beitz clan was growing with the arrival of Ray in 1966. He was followed by Rob (1968), Ken (1970), and last but not least perfection arrived in the form of Brad in 1978 (sorry boys, he paid me to write that!). Lorne always told the boys that they went to the dance with him but came home with their Mom…
Lorne operated a grader for the County of Leduc for a while, before teaming up with Rod Walton and forming their own plumbing company, Beiton Plumbing & Heating. Where did they establish this business, you might ask? Well, Aldergrove, B.C. of course, a town and province he had never set foot in before. Lorne’s strong work ethic, uncanny people skills, and his knack for building relationships allowed him to flourish in business. Although he experienced many successes, the fact that he was so far away from his family weighed heavily on Lorne. The Beitz’s relocated to Listowel in 1972, where he began working with Weishar Plumbing & Heating. The following year (73), Lorne became a partner in the business and remained in that role until 1985. When not working, Lorne was usually playing hard, or giving back. He was a proud member of the Kurtzville Optimist Club and later went on to be a charter member of the Chesley Optimist Club.
In 1985, Weishar dissolved, and as part of the agreement, Lorne could not operate a business within 40 miles of Listowel. So how many miles to Chesley you may ask? Well, 42 of course, and a new home for the Beitz family. L-Ray Plumbing & Heating was established in 1985, and Lorne never looked back. The boys followed in their father’s footsteps, and I am told Lorne taught them a “little shit too!” He would show anyone how to do things once, but then he expected you to catch on… and quickly! Lorne was by no means perfect, or should I say “perfec” – he never pronounced the “t”. On more than one occasion a furnace was installed in the wrong house… imagine!
Life was not all work and no play for Lorne. In fact, on occasion, Lorne preferred more play and less work. Together with Diane, they were regular at dances in their younger years, rarely leaving the dance floor. Lorne was also known to enjoy singing the odd song… and a particular man by the name of Stompin’ Tom Connors was an easy favourite. If the opportunity presented itself, Lorne just needed a broom, or a rake, a crowd, and his foot would start a tapping. Although it was hard to put a finger on Lorne’s favourite, “Bud the Spud” and “Sudbury Saturday Night” were performed on a couple of occasions. On a trip to the Stompin’ Tom Centre in P.E.I. Lorne was lucky enough to be introduced to Stompin’ Tom’s son, Taw Connors, better known as The Canadian Stompper. Lorne soon became a big fan and even entertained him at his hunt camp in Northern Ontario in recent years.
Lorne also enjoyed snowmobiling and taking in an auction sale, where he was usually drawn to the antiques. He loved word searches, puzzles, and often read three different newspapers a day. When not reading the paper, it should not be a surprise to hear that Lorne enjoyed a good Western novel, with Zane Grey being a favourite. Lorne also liked to golf on the very rare occasion, possibly because he knew there would be a beer cart! On one such day, he, and Peter Knipfel (a.k.a. Likewise) were golfing, and Peter hit a shot into the rough. He walked over to find his ball and a genie pops up and says, “Hey Mr. Peter, your ball landed on a buttercup, if you move your ball and don’t hurt the buttercup, I will give you free butter for the rest of your life.” Peter looks at Lorne and back at the genie and says, “I’ll take it but where were you when I was in the pussy willows.”
In 1988, Lorne landed his piece of paradise, when he came across a piece of crown land near Nakina, Ontario. Camp Bruceter soon became a reality, and countless memories have been made there by family and friends alike! It is 14 hours from door to door and believe it or not there were weekends (Friday afternoons) whereby Lorne and a crew left for Bruceter for the weekend. After a weekend of partying, they would pack up Sunday afternoon, and start on the long trip home, only to crawl into their own bed for a few hours before getting up again and starting a new work week! Although not much for cooking at home, Lorne was known for his muffins, tarts, and treats at Bruceter. Every Thanksgiving was spent at Bruceter. However, Lorne was not big on shooting a gun or casting a fishing line, but he loved going hunting and fishing with the boys! 🙂 He was also known to like “off-roading.” On one occasion, Brad and Lori remember coming upon some rough terrain whereby they turned around on their 4-wheelers. Fast forward another year, and Lorne (with probably a little liquid courage, I might add) took his truck down the same trail. Ask Porky what the truck looked like when Lorne returned… the story is priceless!
Back at home, Lorne loved woodworking. His go-to wood was Pine, and he made a variety of cabinetry and furniture for friends and family through the years. We can’t forget to mention Lorne’s famous clocks either. I am told he constructed more than 500 of them, and I challenge you to name a Legion in Ontario that does not display Lorne’s handiwork. When talking about time, Lorne would want us all to remember it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and therefore partake in the odd treat, like an ice-cold Coors Light!
In 2012, Lorne retired, and life began to slow down a little. Together, with Diane, they enjoyed travelling more and took in a variety of sights throughout North America and abroad. Lorne always liked to reminisce about his time in New Orleans whereby he experienced Mardi Gras. As only Lorne Beitz could do, he made his way onto the Hooters float… ya, not kidding ya! He loved telling the tale of his famous mile and a half of cleavage! All joking aside, Diane and Lorne called Davenport, Florida home for the winter months for several years. Believe it or not, during this time Lorne became a volunteer sheriff in his community… I am not kidding! Sadly though, Lorne’s health began to fail him in recent years. It was during this time that his physician instructed him to begin sitting down to pee, as he was under strict orders not to lift anything heavy! Sorry – too easy! Honestly, Lorne was heart-broken when his license was taken from him, but that didn’t slow him down for long, as he still owned a 4-wheeler and a scooter which turned up on many a driveway, backyard, or business about town daily for a quick visit and joke. His new modes of transportation could still get him into his fair share of trouble. This was a tweet posted by the Hanover Police Department in 2018, “Dear ATV driver on 14th St., we like your choice of Stompin’ Tom songs, but you can’t drive on @TownofHanover streets.” It shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that Lorne did most of his praying in the back of a police cruiser! Lol!
In recent months, with health challenges mounting, Lorne sadly became a shell of the man he once was. In true Lorne fashion, he never complained and made the best of every day. Thankfully, his stories, jokes, and antics have remained with us, and I can confidently say that the legend that was Lorne Beitz will live on for many generations to come! Lorne, thank you for all the joy, smiles, and laughs you brought us all – there will only be one Lorne Beitz. Rest easy!
Lorne passed away suddenly, at home, on Monday, April 17, 2023, in his 79th year.
Beloved husband of Diane (Johns). Loving father of Ray of Beeton, Rob (Dawn) of Chesley, Ken (Connie Rands) of Courtice, and Brad (Lori) of Kemble. Cherished grandfather of David (Alyssa), Greg (Shelby), Wyatt, Carlee (Jonny), Kasen, Austin, Serinity, and Dallen. Lorne will be dearly missed by his siblings, Anna Oehring, Harvey Beitz, Florence Fischer, Catherine Grubb, Eugene (Edna) Beitz, Lorraine Schnurr, and Jerry Beitz. He will also be fondly remembered by his sisters-in-law Jean Beitz and Rose Beitz, brother-in-law Harvey Huber, as well as the entire Johns family and his many close friends. Lorne was predeceased by brothers Joseph, George, Clarence, Dave, Mel, sister Theresa Huber, and his parents Anthony and Johanna (Hehn) Beitz.
A celebration of Lorne’s life will be held at the Chesley Community Centre on Friday, April 21, 2023, from 2 – 8 p.m. with words of remembrance (and maybe the odd joke!) at 3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Chesley Hospital Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.