Paul David Rath
Paul David Rath was born in Brazil on November 4, 1957 to Canadian Lutheran missionaries Ernest and Crystal (Hutchison) Rath. He passed away suddenly at home on June 4, 2021, at the age of 63 years.
Paul was a devoted father, grandfather, brother, son and husband, as well as a hunter, a fisherman, a joker, a toastmaster, a punster, a poet, a storyteller, a book collector, and a tremendous friend. He was the pet of two dogs, Bear and Boo, back seat drivers who also thought he was great fun.
Paul is survived by his wife Lisa Douglas, his son, Jonathan, his son Aaron and his wife Hollie (MacIntosh) and beloved grandchildren George and Emerie, by his siblings, sisters Rosemarie (Richard) Klein and Katharine (Cecil) Howell and brother Daniel (Lily) Rath, and their families, and by Laureen Baker, the mother of his sons.
Brazil couldn’t keep Paul long enough to even begin his compulsory military service as a Brazilian. Ernest and Crystal brought him to the North — Alberta’s Peace River Country — at the age of five and then to Kelowna, in the Okanagan Valley, where he learned to scout Okanagan Lake for the legendary Ogopogo instead. Later, Paul made homes of his own in Victoria, Oliver, Prince Rupert and the uppermost northwest corner of British Columbia, where he learned to scout the roadside for moose made out of trees twisted by cold and wind. It helped the miles fly by.
In addition to laughing with delight at life, Paul committed himself with respect and diligence to many jobs over his life: People’s Food Mart in Kelowna, Revenue Canada, Canada Post, and selling life insurance. When the last of those didn’t work out, he devoted 25 years to the Canada Border Service Agency and retired at the rank of Superintendent. In retirement, he was a maintenance contractor. When there was work that needed to be done, Paul always stood up to do it. His sense of ethics was of the highest order. He loved all parts of his job, except maybe shovelling snow. To him, that just didn’t seem fair. Such might just be the mysteries that attend Canadians born in Brazil. Paul shovelled the snow.
Paul was an avid traveller and rejoiced in seeing the world with Lisa. In recent years, they travelled to Antarctica, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Tanzania and Amsterdam. Yes, to him it was a country in itself! A 2020 cruise to the Caribbean was cut short by the pandemic. Gifted storyteller that he was, he turned even that slow trip into an adventure.
Paul especially loved his journeys across Canada. One of his favourite destinations was a birthday trip to Churchill, Manitoba to see the Polar Bears, which, he agreed, were just as good as the grizzly bears back home in the North, who ate dandelions off his lawn. One of his favourite Canadian treasures was a collection of red and white tulips, the colour of the Canadian flag, which he brought back from Ottawa. They had been a gift to Canada from a grateful Dutch nation for liberation in World War II. Paul was so proud to be Canadian that he dug his tulips free of the snow every spring so they could bloom before winter.
Paul came from Russian-German farmers on the Black Sea and he loved the earth. He delighted in everything that grew from the soil and loved to sink his hands into it. He was passionate about gardening, always keeping his grandfather’s antique tools polished and ready for work. Even the North couldn’t stop him. He invented bear-proof ways to compost and was intensely proud of his Halloween pumpkins. Every fall, they could be seen ripening on the windowsill, so big he never could quite wrap his farmer’s hands completely around them.
Paul was an accomplished writer. From studying poetry and short story writing at the University of Victoria in the 1970s, he wrote occasional poems and ballads for many people. He never gave up his dream of being published himself and became a contributing writer of the Arts and Entertainment Magazine What’s Up Yukon.
Paul’s greatest dream was to be a father and grandfather. In February of 2021, his second greatest dream also came true, with the publication of a memoir of white fishing on Okanagan Lake: Fishing With My Fathers. The book’s warm and wise portrait of fathers, sons, God and fish was a best seller through the spring. To be able to share his stories with the world brought Paul great joy.
Paul had all the gifts of a pastor, a talent he turned into an active life on Facebook, bringing friends and family together from across the continent with silly puns, heartwarming sayings and, every time he travelled, enthusiastic animal reports, richly illustrated with photographs. Pandemic isolation from Coast to Coast was lightened by Paul’s devotion to keeping everyone focussed on joy.
Paul touched many people in his life. He was a friend, a counsellor, a champion and a protector to so many people, and caught everyone up in his care. He left no-one out.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of Paul’s favourite Canadian charities: World Vision, Operation Smile, the Heart and Stroke Society, the MS Society, and the Red Cross.
A memorial will be held in November in Penticton. Following the service, his ashes will be spread at the fishing point across from Ogopogo’s lair, where many of the stories from Fishing With My Fathers came to life and he learned his greatest lesson, to pass on the gifts and care given to him. He did it so well.