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GEHMACHER, Franz (Frank)

June 12, 1925 – Bergen, Bavaria, Germany
October 1, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

Franz (Frank)  Gehmacher of Calgary, Alberta passed away on Monday, October 1, 2018 at the age of 93 years.

He was the beloved husband of the late Elisabeth (nee Hensel). He was the father of Evelyn Gehmacher (Russell), Cordelia Hare (the late Joe), Doris Gunnell, and Arlene Gehmacher (Dave), all devoted to him. He was a kind Opa to Antonia Kalmacoff Jennings (Andrew), Marissa Maitland Hare (Peter), Courtney Mo (Thomas), Crystal Hare (Andrew), and Lauren Gunnell, all of whom impressed him. Their personal and professional successes gave him great joy and pride. He was much amused by the antics and sweetness of his great-grandchildren Caleb and Audrey Maitland, Jake and Nolan Jennings and Ophelia Mo. He leaves behind a large extended family in Germany, including Erhard and Sebastian (Wasti), his two surviving brothers.

Franz was born in Bergen, Upper Bavaria, Germany, June 12, 1925, the eldest of eight children (seven boys, one girl) of Johanna Osenstetter and Franz Gehmacher. His love of life was in part defined by both mountains and the seas. Raised on a family farm in the Alps, he spent the leisure time of his youth hiking and skiing. He was fascinated, however, by a marine picture hanging in the family home and longed for the wide-open seas. While attending high school in Freising, where he was gifted in languages, he joined the Navy, an experience that reinforced his anti-authoritarian tendencies. Drafted into the army late in the war, he spent time in an American POW camp, cutting hair in exchange for cigarettes. Circumstances post-war prevented Franz from pursuing a post-secondary education, but his facility with English opened a door wide for work on the US base at Erding, near Munich.

When Franz and Lisbeth Hensel met in Freising (also near Munich) on a perfect spring day in 1946, it was the beginning of a long life together. They married in 1947, and although Franz’s boss at the base in Erding wanted to sponsor their immigration to the U.S., they opted to immigrate to Canada in 1952. The song “Don’t Fence Me In” became their anthem. Life in their adopted country was good: work and a home for Lisbeth and their two daughters was secured, and two more daughters would be born. Houses were designed and built, fishing embraced (Georgian Bay, and the rainbow trout was delicious) and, later on, sailing. Opera and classical music were part of his heritage, but he also enjoyed the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Trips were important – often back to Germany and Austria, but also on the road throughout Canada and the United States. Cross-country skiing, carpentry and refinishing, and gardening became leisure pursuits.

Franz worked for Ontario Hydro for over thirty years, in Port Elgin, Pickering, and Toronto, where he was highly respected and appreciated by colleagues for his strong work ethic and trouble-shooting talents. Despite his lack of a university degree, he was promoted at head office to a management professional position normally reserved for professional engineers. His retirement allowed him to resume downhill skiing (his grandchildren were in awe of his technique) and hike the Rockies, both until age 80. He built yet another home (whistling all the time), gardened (whistling some more) and, at age 83, finished the basement of the sixteenth and final home with Lisbeth.

Franz and Lisbeth were happily devoted to one another for sixty-eight years, until Lisbeth passed away in 2014. Franz missed her terribly, but took life day by day, enjoying it to the fullest possible. Slowed down by severe arthritis in recent years, he was always stoic about it. Day trips to Bragg Creek or Harvey Heights were a treat. He read more than ever, watched the news and Jeopardy, and continued Lisbeth’s tradition of tackling crossword puzzles. Although he was a bit of a curmudgeon at times, he could still laugh at the vagaries of life. He was sharp to the end. We so wish he was still with us but take comfort in knowing that Pap and Mam have found each other on a star, and are once again dancing beautifully together.

An act of kindness to a person in need would be a wonderful recognition of Franz’s kind and gentle soul.

A private family dinner to celebrate his life is being held on Thanksgiving weekend. Condolences may be forwarded through

In living memory of Frank Gehmacher, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Fish Creek, 14441 Bannister Road S.E., Calgary, AB, T2X 3J3, Telephone: 403-256-9575.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Bob & Johnena Quirke, Newfoundland

    Cordi and Family: Bob and I extend our deepest sympathy on your dad’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the family as you deal with your very sad loss.

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  2. To Cordi and family….Our sincere condolences on the passing of your special it must have been to have him in your lives!

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  3. What a lovely write up of a life well lived.
    Our scincere sympathy to your entire family.
    Love Nigel Anita Wes and Laurel.

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  4. THANKSGIVING IS a great time to give thanks for the GIFTS WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN, and your dad sounds like he was a GIFT TO MANY IN THE WORLD. a long life he did have,and your family from young to older,were so lucky to have such a long life with him.

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  5. Sandra and David Annesley

    What an impressive and adventurous life Frank had. The obituary included so many interesting details of his life.
    The best is knowing of the kindness and generosity of character that he passed onto his daughters.
    In memory of Frank Gehmacher, we are even more inspired to deliver and demonstrate kindness and generosity to those in need.

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    EVELYN&FAMILY, It is with great sorrow we send our condolences on the passing of your dad. We had the honor of knowing him for a short time. He was such a pleasant and kind man,full of zest for life. He was so loved by his family,he will sadly be missedbut left so many wonderful memories to be cherished.

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  7. Steve and Janis Jmaeff

    We wish to send our deepest sympathies to Evelyn, Russell and their whole family in the loss of Evelyn’s father, Frank. It is very difficult to lose your parents who have been so much a part of your lives for so long. We pray for God’s peace and love to comfort you!

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