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General News · 22nd August 2018
Ester for Erika
He was a gentle man. Thoughtful and quiet. Talented but modest. A hard-working DIYer. He touched a lot of hearts in a generous, unassuming way. He had a sense of humour. Tried always – and mostly succeeded – to be open-minded and see all sides of a situation. Loved the challenge of solving a problem – except for undoing knots which frustrated him no end! He loved cats. He was a pro at power-napping. What better way to spend twenty minutes after lunch than with legs up and a purring pussy-cat on his lap.

Walter August Grundmann was born in Montreal, Québec on 15 August, 1938. Barely a year old, he and his older sister were taken by their immigrant mother back to Germany to meet grandparents. When WWII broke out, they were stuck. Their father joined the family via a circuitous route through New York, San Francisco, Japan, Siberia ending up in what later became East Germany. In 1949 the family bribed Russian border guards and crossed under cover of night into West Germany where they lived till they re-immigrated to Canada in 1951.

A year spent in Montreal was followed by a move to Toronto. There Walter attended a technical high school, then Ryerson Institute of Technology. He completed his engineering degree at Michigan College of Mining and Technology and began his P.Eng career with a consulting firm in 1963. Initially he worked on the National Research Council Wind Tunnel in Ottawa. In 1969 he was transferred to Vancouver – with his wife, Erika, and son, Erik – as a design engineer for TRIUMF, the cyclotron at UBC. By the time that project was completed, the family had added a daughter, Sigrid. By then a confirmed west coaster, he refused to return to Toronto.

In the early 1970s, he broke new ground and for three years became a house-husband, while Erika had the company car and the sales territory of BC. It was during this time that he began creating wooden ware which he sold through Bowring gift shops.

When in 1974 he obtained a job at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, the family moved to Victoria. The focus there was the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope project for which he designed, among other assignments, an award-winning high resolution spectrograph. The sudden, unexpected death of Sigrid, along with a changing work climate at DAO, led to his questioning the urban, nine-to-five lifestyle and prompted the decision to change course. The move from Victoria to become full time residents of Cortes Island occurred in summer 1994.

Walter designed, and with Erika, built the house they have lived in for twenty-two years. That undertaking completed, he turned his attention to fashioning useable art out of local woods. His great pleasure and satisfaction came from people who had bought his one-of-a-kind creations and returned to express admiration and appreciation of his work.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2017, he returned from a final hospital stay at the end of May for “end-of-life” care. After a few bumpy weeks, with the introduction of a palliative care regimen he enjoyed several more weeks at home – and even managed to be at couple of Friday Markets. He died quietly and peacefully with Erika, his wife of fifty-two years, at his side, the evening of Monday, 20 August, five days after his eightieth birthday.

A life well lived...


We would like to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Cortes community at large and to dear friends for all the warm thoughts and wishes, the offerings of meals and company, the help with jobs that needed to be done, the hugs. The palliative care Walter received through Cortes Community Health Centre was second to none, as was the public assist service of the ambulance crew.

In lasting gratitude,
Erika and Erik Grundmann
From far away...
Comment by Ulf Uchida on 3rd September 2018
Sadly I never met Walter in person in the end.
There would have been a lot to talk about. From the land of Kiwis my deepest sympathies for Erika.
Sending our love
Comment by Chloe on 27th August 2018
Remembering Walter. Thinking of both of you ,Erika and Erik. Sending our love and deepest condolences. We are mourning with you.
~ Chloe, Tom , Ruben and Mia
I will miss him.
Comment by Gary Cork on 27th August 2018
I enjoyed my conversations with Walter, I remember at a recent potluck when I made an "Alsatian Torte"
and he made a bee line up to me and asked Where did you learn to make this? I promised I would bring it to every potluck.
I will miss him.
We love you Walter!
Comment by Nikki Smorodin on 26th August 2018
A beautiful homage to a beautiful person. We love you Walter and Erika!
Thank you
Comment by Patricia Vosper on 24th August 2018
For the opportunity of meeting you both. I have many of Walters woodworking gems, and warmest hugs to you Erika.
A grounding presence
Comment by Scott Mercs on 23rd August 2018
So sorry for your loss Erika. In my interactions with Walter, he was always a calming influence, and a voice of reason. Much love.
adios amigo !
Comment by norberto rodriguez on 23rd August 2018
My deepest sympathies for Erika. I have many beautiful memories of Walter, a dear friend, a wonderful person.
will miss him
Comment by Kate M on 22nd August 2018
Walter was always kind and friendly to me, and I especially appreciated him during my first winter here on Cortes, just getting to know the community. 0242
Comment by Sujon on 22nd August 2018
My condolences for your loss and my gratitude for having met this kind and gentle giant.
Our sympathies
Comment by Ian and Jean le Cheminant on 22nd August 2018
Our sympathies, Erika. He will be missed.
Comment by Nicola on 22nd August 2018
I am so sad! We knew this was coming, but still . . . . I'm happy to own a unique 3-legged table he custom built for me especially for the end window of my unit at the senior's village. Sad for you Erika. what a beautifully written obit. Sad, is all I can say. Lovely human being.