Horst Wirsig

March 27, 1926 – January 7, 2021
Horst died peacefully in Calgary on Thursday, 7 January 2021. His beloved wife Joan predeceased him in 2016. Horst, born 27 March 1926 in Niederlangenau, Germany, was part of a large family now extending over several provinces, the United States, and Germany.
His life adventures are many. Upon coming to Canada as a young child, he left an advanced education system to live in a small cabin where proper roads were as rare as the vehicles that used them. Rather than learning philosophy and art and science, he learned to hunt, fish, trap, plant, protect and harvest edible food, to raise livestock, to maintain and repair the few farming implements they could afford, to cut and mill timber — and to do so many other things we take for granted today.
Horst always chose industry, initiative and team building as his persuasions to the world. As others of his generation, he believed in positive action over shiny words.
Things he accomplished, particularly in a certain, deeply independent kind of entrepreneurship are extraordinary — helping build from scratch a much needed, successful, and productive sawmill with an exemplary safety record, moving next to ranching in the Rocky Mountains where the wilderness stretched literally as far as the eye could see. And there were creative partnerships with like-minded men as they brought to the market many agricultural innovations. He was a pioneer many times over.
In later years, his character truly shone through when his wife was permanently hospitalized. Everyone at St. Martha’s Place (part of Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff) knew Horst. On an almost daily basis for 12 years he visited, spending hours with Joan while becoming an unofficial occupational therapist to her and her community there. Every afternoon he made tea for all the residents — using his own tea cups and kettle!
The residents, the staff — all were entertained by the many special-occasion signs he created and displayed so they could be seen both outside and inside the large glass windows of St. Martha’s. Signs not only for the big holidays, but also for times like Chinese New Years, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Canada Day, and others — they were all cycled in for the appropriate occasion and everyone looked forward to the next one.
Horst’s love of growing things never ended, and his taste for a quiet scotch always remained. No summer was complete without geraniums on the steps and a few carefully protected tomato plants against the side of his house. And no warm gathering was complete without that sip of scotch!
There may be thoughts of writing or sending tributes, but this spring, why not also plant a geranium or a tomato plant in Horst’s honour! And if you are so inclined, raise a glass of scotch to him this coming March 27th — which would have been his 95th birthday, he’d be pleased.
A private family graveside service will be held.
Messages of condolence may be left for the family at www.myalternatives.ca
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403-216-5111
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