On the evening of June 20th, 2014, Keith Raymond Ebbern passed away peacefully of natural causes in Invermere, BC. Keith was 88 years old. He is survived by his wife of 63.5 years, Elizabeth Ebbern and their five children and spouses: Stephen (Judy), Jane (Kevin), Laura Donatelli (Terry), Thomas (Linda) and Andrew (Diana) as well as by 8 grandchildren and a first great-grandchild expected this week. He is predeceased by his four sisters: Evelyn, Muriel, Gwendolyn (who died in childhood), and Mildred.
Keith was born in the small town of Alexander, Manitoba on February 9th, 1926. He was the fifth child and first son of Lucy and Thomas Ebbern. He moved almost every year for his first 16 years as his father worked in contract teaching and principal positions throughout Manitoba. He was a bright student and did his first year of civil engineering at the University of Manitoba at age 17.
Then at age 18 in the summer of 1944, he enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force as he was keen on becoming a pilot. However, by November of that year, it was clear that more pilots were not needed and he switched to the army, and was just completing training when peace was reached in August of 1945. He returned to his studies at the University of Manitoba and completed his degree in 1948. He then did a one year Master of Engineering at the University of Toronto in 1949. While in Toronto, he corresponded a lot with the lovely Elizabeth (Liz) Guest of Winnipeg, whom he had met at the Young Street United Church several years earlier. Keith returned to Winnipeg and started working for Dominion Bridge in their drafting office and married Liz in November 1950.
Keith spent his entire 38-year career with Dominion Bridge, being promoted quickly into management positions in Montreal, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto and Calgary. He retired in 1986 as Chief Operating Officer of Western Canada.
During his retirement, Keith took three 30-60 day management assignments from CESO (Canadian Executive Services Overseas) in Panama, Romania and Czechoslovakia. He and Liz also travelled extensively and started their retirement with an around-the-world trip.
Though Keith never did become an RCAF pilot, he learned how to fly at age 49 and, for the next almost 25 years, he owned a plane. He looked for every excuse to fly: search and rescue, long trips up north, vacations south in winter to see snowbird friends, or just afternoon joy rides over his beloved mountains.
Keith and Liz custom built a lovely vacation home in Fairmont Hot Springs in the Columbia valley, BC and they moved there permanently in1989. Keith loved having great ski slopes and golf courses nearby and continued enjoying both till age 80. Having the Fairmont airport a 5-minute drive away was a huge plus. Keith also found time to research, write and publish a family history book called “My Family and Me: A Story of Two Pioneer Canadian Families: Troops and Ebberns 1750-2010”. Keith and Liz developed a strong group of Columbia Valley friends both in Fairmont and Invermere, and when declining health became a challenge, they relocated to Invermere in 2012.
He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Services are being held at Christ Church Trinity (Windermere Valley Shared Ministry), 110 7th Avenue, Invermere on June 27th at 2pm.
If friends so desire, in lieu of flowers please make a donation in Keith’s name to a charity of your choice.