In memory of Anton Kappmeier, born January 12, 1925 in Fohnsdorf, Austria, who sadly passed away on October 27th, 2020 from a brain bleed due to a fall, Leukemia being the main cause.
My Dad is sorely missed by Romana, his wife of 73 years; by his children Robert (Bob) Kappmeier (wife Carolyn Wood), Rick and Marg Aubertin, as well as Evelyn and Clint Kappmeier-Kitchen. Also greatly missed by his grandchildren Ryan Kappmeier (wife Stephanie Garret), Jeremy Aubertin (wife Jennifer Burke), Jessica Aubertin (husband Ryan Stranberg) and his great grandchildren, who Dad so dearly loved, Sophie and Kye Stranberg. We all love you and miss you Opa!
Anton, Tony, Opa, Dad, Papa was born between two great wars. He survived a childhood of extreme poverty and hardship, with no father and orphaned at age 17 when his dearly loved mother, Julianna, passed away. Shortly before her passing Dad apprenticed and trained as a tool and dye maker. He was working in a local factory when Hiltler’s army conscripted him. Here he learned morse code and went into the ski patrol communications division. During World War II he was deployed to Northern Finland, where he was wounded with shrapnel in his back and shoulder. Sent to the South of France to recover he was there taken as a prisoner of war under horrible, cruel conditions, working in a coal mine. The war ended and Dad was released and sent home with only the clothes on his back, no shirt, simply an American bomber jacket he somehow acquired to keep himself warm.
He returned to his hometown where he was well remembered. Friends thought he had died and were surprised and joyful to see him alive. They immediately took him in. Now began a new time, a new beginning; rebuilding, sharing, celebrating life, survival and friendship.
There was a dance in town, everyone was going and Dad’s friends invited him to go. There was a girl they wanted him to meet. Dad refused because he had no appropriate clothes. His friends managed to get him there anyway and introduced him to the young lady. She wanted nothing to do with him so they introduced him to her sister, Romana, his wife to be. She invited him to dance but not knowing how, he refused and soon left. At a later date and another dance he connected with Romana again. She taught him how to dance and they stayed and danced together from then on. Romana gave him a love of music from classical to folk; with his favorites being Austrian Polka’s, Presley, Abba and Andre Rieaux. As well, a love of dance from Tango, Waltz, and Polka to Modern dance that endured with joy throughout his life.
Romana and Tony married and had a son that tragically passed away a few months old. His second son, Robert (Bob), was born soon after; strong and healthy.
Family was very important to Dad and so he decided to leave war torn Austria to make a new and better life in Canada. In 1951, Tony, Romana and Robert, along with Romana’s sister and brother in law boarded the M.S. Anna Galen destined for Halifax, Canada.
They experienced the worst Atlantic winter storms seen in many years and saw Christmas Eve on board the ship, which managed to rescue a fishing vessel floundering off the Canadian coast before finally making landfall.
Having no English, only the luggage they could carry, sixty dollars, which they had sewn into the collars of their jackets and a two year old toddler, Romana and Tony bravely and with a sense of adventure boarded a train to cross the Maritimes and Quebec to their final destination of London, Ontario. Here they had to stay at the YWCA and YMCA separated until they found a room in a boarding house that was rented to immigrants. Their new life in a new world began.
Mom took on cleaning jobs, Dad took on whatever job he could, wherever he could from machinist to construction, from Northern Ontario to Quebec. Doing his best for his family until they bought a house in Goderich, Ontario where they settled for a few years. His two daughters were then born. Dad worked with his brother in law and rented rooms during this time. The partnership with his brother in law did not work out so Mom and Dad ever adventuresome and resourceful decided to try introducing Austrian Cuisine to Canadians. They bought a restaurant/bakery in Saint Thomas, Ontario. It failed. Never giving up they opened up another business in partnership with a friend; a delicatessen, the first of its kind in the town. It was a huge success but due to unfortunate and tragic events they were forced to sell to their partner and moved to London, Ontario.
Though knocked down once again, Dad kept his strength and determination, stood up, brushed off the dust and resolutely kept moving forward. He began work at General Motors until he was laid off. At this time Romana was managing things at the London German Club, cooking in the kitchen. Things went smoothly, there was time for fun; Mom and Dad joined the German Club where they once again attended dances Saturday nights, where he taught his daughters how to dance and did a bit of soccer coaching, enjoyed October Fests and travelled back to Austria, showing his kids where he came from. It was a good time. This is when we saw his sense of adventure and joy of exploring outdoors, and his love of travel; not the kind with a destination in mind but the wandering sightseeing knock about. Dad loved a road trip and we often called him a Gypsey. The story goes that when Dad was a child, a group of Gypsies approached his mother wanting to buy him from her but she of course refused. It’s believed that they saw the Gypsy blood coursing through his veins. When we took the family trip to Austria, Dad’s wanderlust took us on a spur of the moment trip into Italy, all the way to Rome with stops in between.
During the “Deli” years, Mom and Dad criss-crossed the North American continent first by van, then by RV, being sure to take at least a month every year to travel.
In the early 80’s, after their grandchildren were born, Mom and Dad moved to Los Angeles and began a business there with Evelyn which was also successful. At this time they bought an RV and lived in the desert commuting into Los Angeles.
They found a place in San Felipe, Northern Baja where they settled into a winter home. They loved the warmth of the south and from their “Casita” they explored the desert they had fallen in love with.
In the early 90’s, they were forced to move from Los Angeles and retired to Texada BC. Once again displaying fortitude, strong work ethic and pioneering spirit, Dad helped his son clear and clean a couple acres of land and build a couple of houses and with the help of Romana a beautiful yard and garden; a little paradise. For this he was admired, loved and respected by many. His hard work, love of family, sense of humour and quiet demeanor were seen, appreciated and inspiring.
Mom and Dad loved and lived in their island paradise, gathering salal, mushrooms, gardening and selling their pickings and produce. They explored the island and the coast as well, enjoying people and traveling until they were once again and for the last time forced to move due to illness.
In 2015, Tony and Romana moved to Cedar on Vancouver Island with Rick and Marg. Close to their granddaughter and great grandchildren, doctors and hospitals.
Dad, though shy and quiet, always had a twinkle in his eye. He was quick to smile and often had a little prank up his sleeve. He was gentle and a gentleman, well respected for his frankness, honesty and humbleness. He was there when needed, ready to help. He stayed strong right to his last day. He loved photography,(having an artistic streak),hats, gadgetry, dance, music and travel.
We all here on Vancouver Island, enjoyed a lovely Sunday evening together before Dad fell in the night, had a brain bleed and never woke up. He passed away with Romana and Evelyn at his side at Nanaimo Palliative Care.
We sorely miss you, Dad, Opa, Tony and will keep you always in our hearts.
This is the story of my Dad, if you have something, a story or anecdote please add to this so we have more to keep in our hearts. Love Marg.
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