John George Off, age 93 years, formerly of Thunder Bay, died peacefully on Tuesday, October 30th at Fleetwood Place, Surrey, BC. Born in Regina, SK on May 13, 1925, John was the youngest son of Francis and Agnes (Buhlin) Off who came to Canada from Germany, and brother to Frank, Larry, Agnes, Anne and Charles, all who predeceased him. John grew up on the prairies and joined the war effort in 1943, serving on in HMCS Sault Ste. Marie, a minesweeper, in the Battle of the North Atlantic. After the war, he moved to Fort William to live with his brother Frank’s family. Here he met the love of his life, Elsie (Semenick), at a church dance; they wed in May of 1954. Elsie passed away the summer of last year and John has now joined her. Today, we are all confident that they are holding hands again.
Married for 63 years, John and Elsie started their life together first on Christina Street and then on Walnut Street. Together they raised a family, built a community, fostered beautiful friendships and grew a garden together. They moved to BC in the fall of 2014.
John is survived by his daughter Louise and son-in-law Edwin Klaponski of Surrey, BC; son Raymond Off and daughter-in-law Angela Fong of Edmonton, AB; daughter Rosemary Off of New Dundee, ON; and daughter Shirley Anne Off and son-in-law Bill Jeffery of Ottawa, ON. He will be greatly missed by his 11 grandchildren, Matthew, Jill, Laura, Peter, Allison, Erika, Karl, Paul, Quinn, Lauren and Mason, as well as his five great-grandchildren, Jacob, Sarah, Hannah, Andrew and Dominic. His family and all of his nieces and nephews were dear to him. John loved being anywhere outdoors. With him at the “helm”, the family went on camping and canoeing adventures taking them from coast to coast. He loved fishing, baseball and playing cards and shared this enthusiasm with loved ones and across generations. John was a pillar of his church, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where, over the decades, he ministered to the sick, was a lecturer, and an active member of his prayer group. It is here where he and Elsie fostered the friendships of a lifetime.
A funeral mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, 211 Archibald Street, Thunder Bay, Ontario, on Friday November 9th at 11am, with visitation for family and friends starting at 10am. If you would like to make a donation in lieu of flowers, please consider L’Arche Canada, an organization that supports individuals living with intellectual disabilities and helps them live in a more joyful world.
John was a devoted and loving husband, father, grandfather, Gigi and uncle, as well as a loyal friend. He loved deeply, possessed remarkable faith and strength, and believed in and lived true compassion. He was someone who, once you met and took time with, you never forgot. He was generous, kind, determined and loving. We will all miss him, but are truly greater for having loved and been loved by him.
Memorial Mass will be celebrated for John Off on Saturday November 17, 2018 at 2 p.m. at St. Matthew’s RC Church, 16079 - 88 Avenue