PALEN, Fredrick Ivan

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April 28, 1938 – May 30, 2016

If we are lucky in life, we might get to meet one person who is truly extra ordinary, that is: completely out of the ordinary. Fred was that kind of guy. He started life in a family of 12 kids in the Rural Municipality of Odanah in Manitoba. He grew up playing hockey, plucking chickens and attending a one room (grades 1- 12) school house in Carberry. It was in that little school that he first began to shine. It was impossible to tell what grade he was in as he absorbed knowledge like a sponge! This casual approach to learning may have been detrimental in some ways but it nurtured a free spirit that blossomed as Fred reached out in every direction to stuff his mind; making him a virtual ‘Mr. Google’ before most of us were even aware of the breadth and depth of the universe… and as a consequence, Fred had opinions.

On one level Fred could be seen as a ‘regular folk’ working away at a variety of jobs (chicken plucker, RCAF Navigator, Certified Engineering Technologist, road construction technician, insurance salesman, university lab tech, entrepreneur (his wife worked!), printer, greeter… whatever was needed to keep bread on the table. But, all the while, his heart and brain were working overtime. Always sticking up for the underdog, he championed and won decent and equitable pay for highway workers while he worked at Manitoba Highways and he was passionate about local and national politics wherever he was. Always asking: ”How does this affect the little guy?” An ardent nationalist, he firmly believed that he had been blessed to have been born at the best time in the best country in the world (blessed by whom, we might ask!). Dare we say he was a Liberal? …but one who would go out pounding signs in for a friend who was running for the PC’s! Fred’s library would make Stephen Hawking proud. While he was cracking concrete cylinders or testing circuits he would be off in his multi-dimensional world wrestling with the concept of singularities, black holes, general relativity and quantum mechanics. Fred was different. He actually understood this stuff.

Notwithstanding his complex lifestyle, Fred’s major focus remained his “Palen” family of which he was fiercely proud. He saw his family as being bound by invisible bonds of love and loyalty and being an open community with the ability grow by accretion. He started to build his part of it with Lorraine in Stoney Mountain, Manitoba in the 60’s and continued when he embraced Rosemarie Schmidt (Rose) the love of his life (1978) and they blended their families into one. Fred walked the talk. He fought for women’s equity and, at home he strongly encouraged and fully supported Rose to go back to school and get her Accounting Certificate.

Fred’s Dad, Hugh, was a chicken farmer in the days before quota’s and everyone had to work to keep the family afloat. Fred’s early years were tough but he learned some important lessons. One, after his mother, Helen, died when he was just 4, he learned from his new Mom, Margaret: that you simply love children for who they are. He applied this lesson to his own life, embracing all his kids Susan (Mike), Ken (Soraya), John (Missy), Angela (Paul), and Naomi (John) with equal affection and similarly delighting in his grandkids (Corbin, Paxton and Hadrian Carroll, Yukina Holmes, and Hugh and Jaxon Palen).
Fred is predeceased by his brothers, Dwight and Wesley, and also his sister, Ann Eurich. He is survived by his brothers Alexander, Ken, William (Pearl), Hugh (Candace) and Alan; and sisters Louise Berglund, Kathy (Jan) Renwick and Margaret (Ron) Gay.

Fred loved life. He loved living in ‘greater’ Cochrane and embracing all that the town had to offer: the Bearspaw Fair, working with Rose in her printing shop, running for council (and coming in last – what a loss that was! … not for Fred, but for Cochrane!), joining the Debate Club at A&W, the Saskatoon pie contests, antique auctions, meeting folks at Walmart and biking… man, did he enjoy biking and his biking buddies! True to his character, Fred didn’t just ‘bike around’. No, for Fred, it was off to Texas on his ‘Ching-Chang’, across Canada with his Yamaha rig, off to Winnipeg on his can-am Spyder, and a great trip to Winnipeg was planned for this summer. When Fred had an idea he didn’t just talk about it, he went ahead and did it… with every detail planned out. He was a friendly, outgoing member of the community with a tight network of family and friends, and his dynamic presence will be missed by all who knew him.

Fred is gone. He has found his singularity and he remains a part of us all.

His loving wife, Rose, and his family invite all those who have ever shared with Fred their enthusiasm for life and ideas to join them for a visitation on Sunday, June 5th from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at Cochrane Country Funeral Home (#6 402 Railway St W Cochrane AB).

A Celebration of Fred’s Life will be held at Cochrane Alliance Church (902 Glenbow Drive, Cochrane AB) on Monday, June 6th, 2016 at 11:00 am.
If friends so desire, memorial tributes in Fred’s memory may be made directly to Kids Cancer Care or charity of your choice.

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  1. On June 3, 2016 at 5:21 am Paul Gallinger Said:

    To the Palen family

    Please accept my sincere condolences on the lose of Fred. Although I did not really know him I know what kind of a man he was through his daughter Susan who forwarded me some of Fred’s blogs when he was on one of his bike trips. He was truly a man to admire for his sense of adventure.

    I will be making a donation to Kids Cancer Care in Fred’s memory as requested.

  2. On June 3, 2016 at 6:58 am Georgia Meyers Said:

    The one thing we often hope for is to pass away peacefully in our sleep. The sad part is not being able to prepare for the loss. I truly will miss being greeted by your beloved Fred. What a treasure of a man. God Bless you all as you go forward in the days ahead. So sorry for your loss.

  3. On June 3, 2016 at 3:58 pm Gus Yepiz Said:

    Joel work at Walmart during the time Fred was there. When Joel came home from work the first thing he would always mention was something Fred would say to him. As he went to work Joel would always say “Well dad, I hope Fred is working”. They would talk at work all the time. So much so that I had to go in and meet this man that always made Joel’s day. He was very gracious indeed. Thank you Fred for being a friend to my son when he really needed a friend…

  4. On June 4, 2016 at 3:19 pm Diane and Steve (Limoges, Ontario) Said:

    Dear Susan,
    May it help to know that we’re thinking of you with deepest sympathy. We have never met your father, but we know you, and you are a extraordinary person who is sensitive and caring. We do understand the pain of losing a loved one, so please do not hesitate to call on us if there is anything we can do for you and Mike. With heartfelt condolences.

  5. On June 4, 2016 at 9:55 pm Mary Lou Davis Said:

    Rose and Angela, there will always be an empty space in Cochrane now that Fred is gone. He was one of those people that was easy to talk to, comfortable to be around and just belonged here. Our thoughts are with you. Mary Lou and Roy Eckmeier

  6. On June 5, 2016 at 11:02 am Lesley and Chris Said:

    Dear Sue and Mike and Family

    We never met your father, Sue but he had a wonderful daughter who is a very dear friend we thank him for giving us you. Losing a loved one is so hard. We are so sad for your loss, take time to celebrate your dad and grieve properly. We are here for you in our thoughts and any other way we can support you. Love Les and Chris xx

  7. On June 6, 2016 at 8:02 am Diana Dowie Said:

    Rose I am so sorry for your loss of Fred – Bob and I send our sincerest condolences. My first memory of Fred was when he halped me to pick out Bailey from your litter of puppies!

  8. On June 9, 2016 at 4:34 pm Colleen Bedbrook Said:

    My deepest sympathy for you and your family, sincerest condolences for your loss.

  9. On June 12, 2016 at 6:05 am Andrew, Charmaine and family Said:

    Dearest Sue, we are so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Our deepest sympathy to you and Mike. We are here for you if there is anything you need. Please do not hesitate to ask.