"Accept the things to which fate binds you,
and love the people with whom fate brings you together,
but do so with all your heart.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
July 24th, 1943 – October 20th, 2018
Helmut was born on July 24 1943, to Rudolph and Olga (Barth) Welsand. The family owned and operated a farm near Jakobow, Poland.
The Welsand family immigrated to Canada aboard the ship "The Beaverdale" which sailed into Quebec City, on September 3rd, 1951. They settled in Hespeler, Ontario, joining extended family that had arrived prior to WWII.
As a young boy of eight, Helmut had to overcome many challenges—a new language, a new culture, making new friends—in order to adapt to his new home. But his determination to overcome these things would help to define him in the years to come. Like many other young boys, his first job was as a paper boy, which instilled a strong work ethic that he never forgot. Whatever he did, he gave it his best, which included his favourite sports of baseball, and of course, hockey.
As a young teen, he set about transforming himself through weight training at the Galt YMCA and boxing in Cambridge and Kitchener. These interests developed strength and confidence, earning him a "reputation" as a "capable" young man, and these characteristics would define him throughout his life.
During this time, he discovered the game of pool—his first love. In fact, he became exceptionally skilled at the game. So much so that he became known to some as "The Minnesota Fats" of Cambridge, a character in one of his favourite movies "The Hustler". At Shanos billiards hall, he would develop his passion for the game....and make a "little extra pocket change” on the side.
By chance or fate, the billiards hall was next door to The Cozy Restaurant, where in 1960, a cute waitress named Alice, would catch his eye. They would become soul mates and constant companions. Alice would become his new love. Helmut’s flare for style would ensure they were always well dressed on any occasion.
Helmut became a father and husband. Over the next seven years Helmut and Alice would have four children, Valerie, Sandra, James, and Christine to round out the line-up. They purchased their first home in Hespeler, affectionately named "The Ponderosa". Along with the four children there where numerous pets, one of which was a goose named Matilda. Matilda was a very effective watch dog, she would eat out of any outstretched hand and she would wait for breakfast at the kitchen door. The much-loved Matilda was originally destined to be Christmas dinner entrée; however, Helmut would end up raffling her off because the family could not bring themselves to eat her.
Not only did Helmut look after the pets he was a hands-on father. He did everything from cloth diapers to laundry and bedtime routines because Alice and Helmut worked opposite shifts for many years. Helmut would have a variety of jobs but the one he enjoyed the most was working for the city of Cambridge at the Hespeler cemetery. Helmut took great pride in landscaping, opening and closing grave sites and meticulously maintaining the grounds of the cemetery which were always groomed to perfection for the public.
Seasons change, and so too does life. In 1974, Helmut and Alice moved the family up to Bruce County, briefly living in Tara, then ultimately moving to Chesley, where he would live the remainder of his life. During the middle part of his life he worked as a labourer in the construction of Bruce Nuclear and followed that by the physically demanding work at the Findlay Pallet Factory in Chesley.
With children, fun and games are mandatory, but Helmut never had to be grudgingly forced to play. He loved all games, for skill, for competition, and simply for entertainment. And he would bring the fun with his faux serious attitude, jesting, baiting, and using absurd strategy and play—all to befuddle and amuse friends and family.
A surprise to no one, he was a Montreal Canadians fan. He received much good-natured ribbing for this over the years, that he of course responded to in kind. Knowing Helmut's sense of humour, one may suspect that he simply liked the contrarian position, enjoying the debates with, and chiding, of rival Maple Leaf fans. Of course, that is not the case, he would regal memories of their past glories, and bemoan their unfortunate times. He loved hockey his entire life, and it would be a poignant circumstance that the Stanley cup would come to Chesley, and he would he get to see and touch it just a few months before his passing.
Helmut enjoyed a beer or two, and the Chesley Inn sold beer, it could be as simple as that. Alas, it never is, for it was the two billiards tables in the middle of the room that was the real draw. Whether with peers for fun or competition or with others—young or old, new to the game—the tables allowed him once again to enjoy the game he loved and excelled at in his youth. With a few tips and pointers or simply demonstrating the sport, he peaked some interest, generated some fun, instigated some competitive spirit, and in some a passion of their own, which can be fondly attested by his son James. And when he wasn’t playing pool, he was having a quiet pint with Alice or discussing the latest goings-on with acquaintances and the locals.
As he grew older, Helmut developed a deep inner life and became more solitary and reflective. Summer was his favourite season and he loved having bonfires while listening to music with family and friends. Memorable times spent at "Bluewater" with cousin Heinz and Jean highlighted summer weekends for more than 20 years.
On a practical side, a good fire was essential to his ritual of turning the task of barbequing on the small hibachi into an epic culinary process. Something we hungry bystanders could never truly appreciate. However, in his view there was nothing better for relaxation than a comforting fire in the yard, especially at night. He would pass many an evening simply reflecting on life by himself, or conversing with Alice, family, and friends—all drawn to the flame and Helmut's company. Time spent by the fire also provided lots of opportunity for star-gazing, and to ponder and muse over extra-terrestrial goings-on, a topic he loved to discuss.
Sue Laver's music always stirred his love to dance and he favoured Yanni for peaceful times. He had a close relationship with Alice’s family, especially her sisters Gene Martin, Betty Karn, Dorothy Schultz and their families. Helmut made a lasting impression on two generations of nieces and nephews. He was “Uncle Helmut” in every sense of the word.
Diabetes complicated by Parkinson caused many health issues, and Helmut moved into Parkview Manor in 2012. Alice’s daily visits, chats with the residents and staff, visiting family and friends, day trips, movie nights, and of course televised hockey games, were all interwoven happily into his days there.
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard,
but must be felt with the heart.”
Helmut H. Welsand of Chesley passed away suddenly at South Bruce Grey Health Centre, Chesley on Saturday, October 20, 2018 in his 76th year.
Beloved husband of 54 years to Alice (Robinson). Loving father of Valerie Welsand of Kitchener, Sandi (Dave) Conner of Kingston, James of Etobicoke and Christine (Jeff) Borton of Elmwood. Cherished grandfather of Sabrina MacDonald, Stephanie Vetero, Wyatt Borton, Alicia Fischer, Zoe Conner and great-grandfather of Nathan and Vienna MacDonald. Helmut is survived by his siblings Gerhard (Karola) of Kitchener, Bruno of Cambridge and Anita (Bob) Banyard of Waterloo. He will be fondly remembered by his aunts Jean Welsand and Greta Barth and the entire Robinson family. Helmut was predeceased by sisters Erica Welsand, Irene (John) Alt, sister-in-law Charlotte Welsand and his parents Rudolph and Olga (Barth) Welsand.
Please join Helmut’s family and friends for a casual gathering celebrating his life at the Chesley Legion on Friday, November 2, 2018 between 3 - 7 p.m.
Memorial donations to Parkview Manor Residents Fund, Diabetes Canada or Parkinson Canada would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend