September 10, 1939 — February 18, 2023
John Bittner passed away on February 18, 2023, surrounded by his loving family, at the age of 83.
He is survived by his beautiful wife of 60 years, Evelyn; children Melinda (Les) and Gordon (Marla); grandchildren Claire, Dhakota (Jessie), Tyson (Lauren), and Dayton; great-grandson Colter; siblings Olga (Joe), Marie, and Herman (Linda); and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was predeceased by his parents; two older brothers; one older sister; two brothers-in-law; one sister-in-law; and one nephew.
John was born in Chitomir, Ukraine on September 10, 1939. He immigrated to Canada in 1952 with his parents and six siblings through a Lutheran Church sponsorship program. The family settled on a 35 acre sugar beet farm near Picture Butte, Alberta. John worked hard alongside his parents and younger siblings, quitting school at the age of 16, in order to help repay the immigration debt. In 1956, he relocated to Calgary, Alberta with his family. A proud Canadian citizen since 1961, John worked a number of jobs, including at the Calgary British American (BA) Oil Refinery. He spent a few years working for the City of Calgary as a “Garbologist” as he liked to call it. Due to his love of the Shuswap, he relocated his young family to Enderby, BC in 1971. He worked at Surecrop Feeds in Grindrod until his retirement in 2000.
An honourable and generous man, John’s jokes, stories, and laughter could always be counted on. The arrival of his grandchildren really showed us all just how big his heart was. His last words included telling us all just how much he loved us, after which he joked with the medical staff “don’t speed” as he was whisked away to surgery. The medical staff, who knew him so briefly, referred to him as “a real swell guy”, we couldn’t agree more.
Known by many names: John, Dad, Opa, The Candyman, Mr. John, and JB, he lived his life to the fullest. He took his family on many adventures: boating, camping, and road trips. Among these, the very memorable family RV trip around the western United States along with his mother and his brother Herman. The 2000 holiday to Cuba with Evelyn was very special to him.
John “The Lawn Ranger” was meticulous with his grass mowing. In winter, he was always on top of snow plowing activities and making sure the toboggan hill was groomed for the grandchildren. He loved watching the birds and maintained many self-built bird houses and feeders, including building an owl house. He eagerly awaited the arrival of the hummingbirds each year, and you could always find him outside, sitting on the patio watching their antics.
He loved curling. He became an avid, passionate golfer; he was very proud of his two hole-in-ones at the Salmon Arm Golf Course. He looked forward to his annual golfing trips in the fall around the Kootenays with his golf buddies and was known to play 11 courses in 10 days.
A lifetime collector, his attitude was, “you never know, that might come in handy.” An incredible and highly skilled, self-taught tradesman, he built, designed, modified and repurposed many handy and useful things. He loved spending time in his shop “puttzing” and often offered to “make something up for you”. He often asked over the last few years, “Do you have any projects for me?”.
The family gives special thanks to the responding ambulance attendants and paramedic, to all the emergency staff that cared for him during his short stop at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, and especially to the Kelowna General Hospital emergency medical staff including Vascular Surgeon Dr. Jeremy Harris and ICU physician Dr. Julian Mackenzie-Feder and the incredible nurses and other care professionals for their outstanding and compassionate care of John and his family.
John is deeply missed by his loved ones.
A private Celebration of Life for family and friends will be held later in the Spring/Early Summer of 2023 at John’s Happy Place. At a later date, his ashes will be interred in a private ceremony at the Enderby Cliffside Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to John’s favourite charity, The War Amps.
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