We said goodbye to our dear neighbor and friend Claire Festel on June 9, 2014 when she died from the complications of her multiple myeloma. See my post “Autumn’s Claire-ity“. Only a couple of years later on August 25, 2016, her husband Eduard died and friends gathered at the Penticton Airport to bid adieu.
Ed was also diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which their medical practitioners deemed to be an anomaly for the two of them to suffer from the same cancer. Like Claire, Ed packed as much life as possible into each day. While he had some lows, he had many highlights after Claire died and just as she had hoped for him, he developed another strong relationship with a lovely lady named Leslie.
His joy of life is a lesson for us all and even as he struggled with his cancer, he continued his adventures and even succeeded in accomplishing a few new ones. For example, he finally made it to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the flagship annual airshow widely considered as the world’s finest celebration of aviation.
Given his commitment to the Penticton Flying Club and CASARA how fitting is was that his Celebration of Life was held there at the airport. I can see the smile on his face now as I recall him telling us all about COPA for Kids — a free program to provide “motivational aviation experience, initiating young people to the science of flight”. Ed was also instrumental in acquiring a club plane (1971 Cessna 172L) for eligible members to rent. Testament to his impact on the aviation scene was the fly-by to salute Ed. (See the slideshow below at Penticton (CYYF) Airport.
Here’s the link to Eduard Festel’s obituary.
Ed loved a good gathering and so folks gathered for a barbeque feast with the requisite desserts before tributes were made. We attended the Celebration of Life with another neighbour Stefan Ermair, also a friend of Ed’s and shares Ed’s love of flying — although Stefan’s preference leans to helicopters. People lovingly shared their stories about Ed and his impact. The photos below attempt to capture the love and admiration shown.
Not captured in the photos, was a loving message from his longtime friend Christoph Altherr. Their friendship went back to Switzerland and then to the Yukon. He brought greetings from all of their many Northern and Swiss friends as well as from Claire’s family. I also managed to say a few words of what Ed and Claire meant to us as neighbours; how Claire and I connected so deeply as writers and kindred spirits; and how happy she would be that he found a great companion in Leslie.
We had the opportunity to meet her once before in April when we celebrated Ed’s birthday with her and his longtime friend Marianna Keller. We were delighted to see him packing in all the flying, travel and joy that he could. It was not until I received a phone call from Claire’s family in August that we learned Ed was slipping away. Thanks to them, we had a chance to visit Ed one more time in the Penticton Hospital to pay our respects and say a personal goodbye.
When the tributes ended, we had to leave quickly because it was truly a yin and yang day. We headed off to celebrate another friend’s 50th birthday, which broke out into a wedding between her and her fiancé.