Tuesday, 9 October 2012


1935 - 2012

Today, I paid my respects and said goodbye to a wonderful man and mentor. I met Elmer many years ago, during my tenure at Red Deer County where Elmer served on Council for 18 years, including one term as Reeve.
While not everyone prescribed to Elmer's philosopies -- and some might have even found themselves on opposite sides of the table -- Elmer was a man of deep conviction and principles. He stood up for what he believed in, often at great expense to his political career. He was a committed farmer who never missed an opportunity to advocate for agriculture, even though it cost him dearly. Elmer knew it isn't always easy to stand up for something you believe in but he did it because he knew it was the right thing to do.
Elmer was also very forward-thinking. I recall him talking about 30th Avenue which, at that time, was still a mile or two on the outskirts of the City of Red Deer. Elmer wanted it protected all the way to Highway 42, several miles away, because one day it would serve as a major route into the city (I just might have dated myself with that story). He also wanted to make sure that nothing ever compromised McKenzie Road, also still a few miles south of the City, because it would be needed as a major transportation link to the regional airport. I distinctly remember rolling my eyes when he spoke of 30th Avenue; by the time we were talking McKenzie Road, he was preaching to the converted. And don't you know, he was right on both counts. A decade or more later, these very suggestions were raised by others who considered themselves to be visionary -- it made me smile, and reminded me of Elmer, the real visionary.
During the celebration of Elmer's life, we heard wonderful tributes from his children, nephew and grandchildren. They left no doubt that Elmer was a Papa, father, husband and brother.  He was also a good friend and mentor. There were a couple of things Elmer loved almost as much as his family. One was his music. He always carried a harmonica in his pocket and was more than happy to bring it out and play a tune. He also had a deep love and affection for his farm, where he was raised -- where he raised his children, and where they brought their children to him to learn the value of working the land and working with animals.

As I sat at Elmer's funeral, reading the Farmer's Creed on the back of his funeral card, I knew I was saying good-bye to someone who spent many countless hours on behalf of his community because he loved it and was confident he could make it a better place. Clearly, he lived by the Creed; he left this earth a better place and he left me a better person for having known him.


I believe a man's greatest possession is his dignity and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming. I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person's character.

I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth.

I believe farming nurtures the close family ties that make life rich in ways money can't buy.
I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no
other way.

I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth, and maturity in such a variety of ways.
I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free: the splendor of a sunrise, the  rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.

I believe that true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feel the pride that springs from their shared experience.
I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it, an honor that does not come to all men.
I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellowman, and by this standard I fear no judgement.

I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he's lived.
I believe in farming because it makes all this possible.