Robert Arthur (Zeke) Clements

Robert Arthur (Zeke) Clements

Linda, Barb and Rob announce the death of their father on his 96th birthday at Trail, B.C. As there will be no service, this is our eulogy for our dear old dad. Bob was born on March 8, 1920 to Harry Edward and Vera Rose (Allebone), an English war bride, in Moose Jaw, SK. The family later relocated to Regina. Bob is predeceased by his wife of 69 years, Jean in 2012, his sister, Pat Campbell, and his infant brother, Allan. He is survived by his grandchildren – Moira, Jim, Bill and Gord Tod; Craig and Alison Holm; Tad and Tim Clements; nine great- grandchildren and his son and daughter-in-law, Ron and Sharon.

As kids we could never understand why Dad (a product of the depression in the dustbowl of the Prairies, as he would frequently remind us) squeezed the Queen’s eyes until they were bloodshot. As we entered adulthood, we finally understood where he was coming from when he announced “you are because of what you were – when”. He and Mom never stopped pinching pennies even when they could afford to indulge themselves in finer amenities like a real steak!

Bob was very athletic, excelling in swimming, golf, baseball and his favourite pastime, hockey. He and his friends used to practice their skills on iced ponds playing with frozen horse turds. This is when he was nicknamed “Zeke”, which stuck with him for the rest of his life. He played semi-professional hockey for the Moose Jaw Canucks and Millers, and the Regina Rangers as a junior. One of his many hockey stories was the time his Rangers played Father Althol Murray’s Notre Dame team from Wilcox. Money had to be raised before the game and whoever won got to keep the spoils. Dad’s team was the victor. To settle the bet, Father Murray took Zeke into his office. The winnings lay on the table until Father Murray swept the cash onto the floor and told him to pick it up. There were as intense rivalries back then, as today. Dad caused quite a hullabaloo when he went to play for Gonzaga University in Spokane. The Canadian Hockey Association became very concerned about the Americans stealing their players. He was asked by Red Dutton to try out for the New York Americans, which he did. He just didn’t have it in him. By that time he had fallen in love with Jean, and with the advent of World War II, he decided to join in the cause and became a flight instructor with the RCAF. They married in 1943.

With first-born Linda in tow, Zeke and Jean were lured to Trail in 1946 with the promise of a job at Cominco and a spot on the Trail Smoke Eaters lineup. Zeke “the Deke” (as he was known) was a colourful defenseman there for five years, retiring at the ripe old age of 30 – considered old by hockey standards of the day. He traveled often, playing as far away as Los Angeles. We never saw much of him during that time and, being a typical male of his generation, he played while Mom stayed. She was the rock of the family and saved his skin many times as his handyman skills were sadly lacking.

Our family grew up with many unprintable sayings. We had the rare gift of being able to ridicule each other and still come out reeling with laughter – and no hard feelings. We were all taught to skate at an early age. When our dad grabbed our hand and swirled us around the Cominco arena, it was magical and better than any carnival ride you could ever imagine. Besides, those cost money! Dad and Mom taught us to stand up for ourselves and to be fair to others. Dad was never one afraid to speak his mind. When he coached the Trail Juniors to two consecutive B.C. provincial championships, his philosophy was to allow each player the same ice time and to just have fun. Growing up we also endured several lectures from our father. After hearing his full repertoire many times over, we began asking him which lecture number he was going to give us this time, much to his chagrin. Patience was not one of his virtues.

Dad was very active in the community and lent his accounting expertise to the Trail Athletic Association, Kiro Manor and the Corinthian Lodge #27 for many years. He also belonged to the Kiwanis Club, the Legion and was on the Board of Directors for the Birchbank Golf Club and later the Castlegar retirees (yes, they too got lectures about their financial situation). After moving to Castlegar in 1985, Mom and Dad enjoyed golfing at the Castlegar club where Dad organized many retiree tournaments.

After losing his driver’s license, which was very traumatic as you can imagine, Dad talked the Department of Veterans Affairs into providing him with a motorized scooter in which he could be seen driving the sidewalks of Castlegar looking like the Red Baron. There were many incidents on that scooter – some humorous, some not – that are worthy of a lengthy book.

Zeke was a character who had a life full of interesting stories. Dementia robbed us of our father a few years ago but we were lucky he recognized us to the end. Dad, in death, we have lost a guiding star. Our hope is that the fascination you had with the Hubble telescope and the mysteries it unveiled with all the galaxies in the universe will finally be revealed. We are very grateful to have had our parents (Gramps and Granny Goose as they were affectionately known to their grandchildren) for such a long time. We are heartbroken. But it is healing to know that the laughter and good times at Christina Lake we shared, and the many enduring friendships our parents nurtured — especially our wonderful neighbours for many years, Frank and the late Lina Cupello and family — will far outweigh the heavy stuff.

A big thank you goes to the caring staff at Rosewood Village for being so patient with Dad under trying circumstances at times. Anita, you are the best and we can’t thank you enough. You were so diplomatic when Dad would sit by your desk and implore you to give him more money out of his comfort fund to stick in his wallet, which was washed many times over along with the money – you can see where it came from.

Gwen Ziprick of Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Services has been entrusted with the arrangements. You are invited to leave a personal message of condolence by visiting the family’s register at

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