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Yarrow, British Columbia

Edited by
Esther Epp Harder, Edwin Lenzmann, and Elmer Wiens

Biographies and Obituaries


Born: July 7th, 1947, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Passed in: Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
Passed on: August 3rd, 2012

Elmer James Froese--husband, father, grandfather, brother, teacher, coach and friend-- passed peacefully late Friday evening, 03 August 2012, at the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Hospice in Kamloops after a long and remarkable battle with cancer.

Elmer was born on July 7, 1947 in Chilliwack, and raised in Yarrow by his parents, Henry and Ann Froese. Elmer and his two older sisters, Lorna and Evelyn, were first generation Canadians; he recalled many stories of his family's working farm and the time and effort needed to put down roots in the Canadian landscape.

Elmer and Linda met while skiing at Tod Mountain and were married in June of 1974 at Linda's childhood home on Deer Lake in Burnaby. They lived in Kamloops for three years, before finding their dream property on Little Heffley Lake, close to skiing, hiking, fishing and canoeing. Elmer designed and built their house, which stands proudly today looking out over the lake. He enjoyed working on projects, tennis, and relaxing with friends and family on Hornby Island-the family's incredible retreat for close to 35 years. He spent many hours watching the sunset, picking blackberries, and playing cards with his children, Jordana and Nathan. Hornby was one of his favorite places in the world and it was the only time of the year that he would take his watch off to fully embrace "being on island time."

In 1976 he found his true calling as a teacher, first in Barriere, then in Kamloops, where over the years he was a Computer Coordinator, then Math Teacher, Career Preparation Counselor, and Basketball Coach at SaHali Senior. (Anyone who was ever in his math class was taking a course in Froese jokes as well, and received an automatic 'A' in Humor…or was that an 'A' for tolerance of said humor?) He volunteered an immeasurable amount of time and energy to his students and school, always with remarkable passion and perseverance; he remained committed to teaching and coaching until he was unable to work three years ago.

Elmer lived and breathed basketball but he loved all sports (except volleyball, because it interfered with basketball season): playing with his kids in the basement; establishing the first spring league in Kamloops; taking the SaHali Senior Boys to the Provincial AAs many times, and to Gonzaga for team camps. He was a great coach, a kind mentor, and a passionate advocate for the development of the game. He recently received the Jack Buckham award in recognition of his outstanding dedication to athletics, as well as a special award of merit from Basketball BC.

The cancer that finally cut his life short also revealed his optimism, exceptional mental discipline and resilience. He considered himself "a healthy man living with cancer" and pursued the fullest life possible in spite of the disease. This attitude, combined with his dedication to natural and holistic treatment helped him to live with cancer for more than a decade, far beyond anyone's expectations.

Throughout this journey he was always grateful and amazed at he love, support, teachings, cajoling, guidance and encouragement of young and old alike: so many people impacted his life in so many positive ways, helping him to live his best life 'High Off the Glass.' Elmer and his family are thankful for the unconditional support of Drs Bantock, Street, Pukhey, Herzog, Klimo, and Bachand, as well as the nursing staff at Royal Inland, Vancouver General, and Lions Gate Hospitals; and the support of Kamloops Home Care staff. The nurses and volunteers of the Marjory Willoughby Snowden Hospice were all that one could ask for, offering compassion, dignity and grace to Elmer in his last seven months. Rob in Penticton, Miri on the mountain, Sandi on the river, Lance and Sue, Norm and Margaret, Phil and Shannon, and Jim and Bev, offered Elmer continued support love and support, making a profound difference in his life.

Left to love and remember his many talents, his pursuit of excellence (and sometimes over-the-top attention to detail), his dry wit ('Need to borrow my glasses, Ref?), and wisdom are his wife, son and daughter, son-in-law, sisters and brothers in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews. Elmer was a new Opa and there will be many stories that we will share with his grandson as he grows up. He was a good man, dearly loved, and we will miss him.

In accordance with Elmer's wishes, a celebration will be held on Saturday, August 18, 2012, from 10:30am until 12:30pm in the Mountain Room at the TRU Conference Centre. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to a charity of your choice. To share memories of Elmer please visit

Raise a glass, remember a precious moment, give thanks for what you have, and hold on to those in your life whom you cherish. Live your best life: no moment is ever wasted when you're with those you love.

Well played, Elmer; onto The Finals.

August 9, 2012
Kamloops Daily News Sports Editor

Lindsey Karpluk was remembering a basketball game from more than 30 years ago.

Karpluk had only been teaching for a couple of years when he found his team playing against the Barriere Cougars.

After the game, Barriere coach Elmer Froese strolled over.

"Like everyone who is young, you get all fired up and don't always see the big picture," a chuckling Karpluk said Wednesday. "I remember him coming over after the game and saying, 'You did really good at this and this . . . just stay a little calmer.' "

Froese, who had been teaching and coaching basketball at Sa-Hali Secondary since 1992, died Friday at the Marjorie Willoughby Snowden Memorial Hospice Home. Froese, 65, had been battling cancer for a number of years.

"You would see him at Christmas at the Fulton Cup, and he was always so optimistic," said Karpluk, who teaches at Brocklehurst and coaches the NorKam Saints senior girls team. "He would tell you, 'I'm just battling this thing and enjoying life for the moment.'

"He is definitely going to be missed. He's going to be missed so much for all the stuff he has done."

Froese, who was born in Chilliwack and raised in Yarrow, first began teaching and coaching in Barriere in 1976.

In Kamloops, he established the city's first spring basketball league. He also helped with the AA provincial high school basketball championships - "He ran all the video-taping," Karpluk said - that are held here every spring, and was involved with the junior national basketball championships and the 1993 Canada Summer Games.

Every summer, Froese would take local players to the Gonzaga University basketball camp in Spokane.

In March, Froese was honoured with the Jack Buckham Award for his dedication to athletics and youth. He also received an award of merit from Basketball BC.

"What a great man the guy was," said Karpluk as he collected his thoughts, having been greeted with the news upon his family's return from vacation. "He has been great for the community and for his family and for basketball."

The thing that was so striking about Froese's involvement, Karpluk said, is that it was always about the young people.

"There are a few who do as much for kids . . . Elmer was always one of those guys," Karpluk offered. "He was always doing something for kids, always developing coaches."

Karpluk said that Froese did a lot more than just coach basketball teams.

"Elmer was always looking out for kids who wanted to get involved in coaching. He'd get coaches out," Karpluk said. "I can just think of all the young coaches who came out of TRU that he would nab and give them direction and mentorship. Ryan Porter, Sean Garvey . . . any of those guys. He helped those guys to stabilize. . . . they're a lot of fire . . . he would always make sure they knew what was important.

"He was a real mentor for those young coaches."

Garvey, who co-coached the Sabres with Froese starting in 2006, once told The Daily News: "I stepped into a great program. All I have to do is show up and coach and then I leave. All the day-to-day operations are up to Elmer."

In early 2008, Froese told The Daily News that his coaching philosophy wasn't all about winning.

"My reward is seeing the kids be successful and the gratification they get," he said. "I don't coach for myself."

Larry Read, the sports information officer at TRU, worked with Froese as a member of the media and with the AA championships.

"Elmer was one of those few individuals who we find in the school system that was not only truly passionate about his profession, but sports as well," Read said. "He spent countless hours in the gym with the boys basketball program at Sa-Hali. He gave of himself for the betterment of all basketball players at Sa-Hali Secondary.

"He'll be sadly missed. The Kamloops basketball and sporting communities have lost a great man."

Ken Olynyk, TRU's director of athletics and recreation, said Froese had a huge impact here.

"Elmer was a great contributing member of the Kamloops community," Olynyk said from New Brunswick where he is coaching the B.C. girls team at the national U-17 championships. "His basketball leadership within our community was recognized this spring with Elmer most deservingly receiving the Award of Excellence from Basketball BC.

"Elmer will always be remembered in basketball circles across this province."

Froese is survived by Linda, his wife of 38 years, their daughter Jordana and son Nathan.

A celebration of Froese's life is scheduled for Aug. 18, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the Mountain Room at the TRU Conference Centre.


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