Balzar Sperle passed away on Tuesday, January 3, 2023. The Memorial Mass for Balzar will be held Saturday, January 7, 2023 at 11:00AM at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Unity, SK.
Balzar Don Sperle was born, Balthasar Don, on April 24, 1927 to immigrants Kasper and Bertha Sperle. His parents had come over from Odessa, Russia with their families and eventually settled in the Reward area. Dad told us that every family that came over was given a plot of land by the Canadian government to get them started in the farming sector. Dad was the 5th child in a family of 10....6 boys and 4 girls. His parents worked hard supporting their family through the dirty ‘30s and dad shared many stories of those years when they received ‘relief’ clothing and food from down east. He said they’d meet the train and bags of beans and boxes of clothes would be handed out to the families. He said he and his siblings would run barefoot all summer because there was no money for shoes for all of them. He said their spending money was one dime that he was given once a year for their school playday. He said that dime went a long way and could buy a bag of chips, an ice cream and some gum. Dad’s mom would sell or trade cream and eggs at the local grocery store for flour and sugar for baking for the family.
When dad started school at the age of 6 he only spoke German. It was tough to learn to speak English at school and school work at the same time. He said they continued to speak German at home and English at school during his school years. He only went to grade 8 in school because that was the highest grade for the country schools, and from there he started working for local farmers in the area. At the young age of 17 or 18, he travelled out to Ontario alone, and got a job working in the bush. He said he arrived by bus and had two bits in his pocket, so he headed to the Salvation Army for a bed and a warm meal. This is where he met Vasil Krylinko, a nice Polish man, who helped him get a job at the local lumber mill and took him out to the camp, where the work days were long, but the food was the best he’d ever had. He always tells us that he grew two inches in height that winter from all that good food!!
When dad came home from the bush he purchased his first half section of land 7 miles west of Unity. For the next 10 years or so he continued to farm, purchase more land, and work every winter in many different places....Intercon packers in Saskatoon, taxi driver in Edmonton, bakery and a chicken hatchery in Edmonton, and a lumber mill in Kitimat, BC. Dad was never afraid of hard work and made sure he always earned enough in the winter to support and pay for his land purchases and farming for the next year. He always told us that first year he started farming with $5.00, a crescent wrench and a grease gun. Not quite the same as nowadays that’s for sure.
On April 11, 1961, dad married the love of his life, Marjorie Vetter. He married into her big family of fun-loving people and over the years there were many names days and birthday celebrations bringing the Sperle and Vetter families together. Many nights of heavy handed card playing as well, dad always loved playing cards! In the first 6 ½ years of their marriage,
Balzar and Marj were blessed with 5 children, Leita, Bradley, Shelly, Cheryle and Melissa. The next many years were busy with children, farming and a new venture for dad, Charolais cattle. Dad loved his cows!! He had anywhere between 300 and 500 cattle over the years and had a special bull named Elite Caid, who helped him to earn many ribbons and trophies over the years at Regina and Saskatoon Agribition, as well as Denzil Stock Show. As the children got older, there were always small jobs to help out with on the farm, like rolling and stacking bales, picking rocks (by hand!), trucking and shoveling grain and running equipment for the farm. There were a few times over the years, when one of us children would have an activity after school and mom would ask dad to pick us up while he was in town for parts or something, and without fail, he would arrive back at home without that child and we would head to gramma Vetters to wait for him to come back and get us.
Dad and mom retired from the farm to Unity in 1985, with dad continuing to be active in the farming life until his late 80s. In these later years, he greatly enjoyed his many grandchildren. He would surprise them with many different wild animals over the years (including crows, mice, rabbits, porcupines, moles and even a baby calf for the kids to bottle feed), and taught them how to snare gophers. He loved playing jokes and teasing the grandkids, and they all loved it too. Every year he made Easter baskets out of straw and placed them around the garage in town. He would find some bush rabbit fur in his walks in the pasture and place a little around the baskets. He told the kids he had cut the tail off the Easter bunny for that fur, but that it would grow a new tail for next year.
The last 3 years of dad’s life he battled some health issues, with repeated bouts of pneumonia and congestive heart failure. In January 2022, we made the difficult decision to have dad move into Longterm Care in Wilkie. This was a hard time for him and mom both after 60 years together. We were grateful for his excellent care in Wilkie, but were happy when he could come back to Unity in July. He was happy to be back in town with some of the residents that were old friends and familiar to him. He was active in the home with Bingo and other games and loved the bus tours they took out into the country. We are grateful to the activities girls, and the care aides for the great care received in Unity as well.
Dad passed away peacefully on the morning of January 3rd, just as he had always wanted. He used to say, I’m not sure why God hasn’t taken me because I’ve been a gooder boy. God heard and answered his prayers. Rest easy dad, you’re a gooder boy!!