May 15, 1955 – May 15, 2022
Gregg passed away peacefully at home on May 15th. Gregg loved his life and the people in it, but sadly he couldn’t live with the agony of Parkinson’s any longer. He courageously faced three excruciating Deep Brain Stimulation surgeries in hopes of being able to live a more ‘normal’ life but all the daily activities that he really enjoyed doing were still out of reach. Losing his ability to communicate was very difficult.
Gregg moved to Vancouver from Montreal after he completed University. One of the things he brought out with him was an old BMW motorcycle that was in parts. After about 30 years of moving the boxes from home to home, he finally started assembling and restoring the motorcycle. The time he spent on it and chatting online with other motorcycle restoration hobbyists brought him a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction. He created a blog for the restoration which attracted a lot of followers. He once said in jest “if only I could monetize the blog”.
After the bike was finished, he loved riding around the Fraser Valley and doing day or early evening trips. He went on a few road trips to the Interior, Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula with a few guys which he said were some of the best times of his life. The guys were wonderful in stopping when Gregg needed his meds to kick in and he really appreciated being included in these trips.
Gregg loved music and playing his guitars. He was always noodling and creating in his head. He could sit for hours just playing. He loved playing in bands and considered himself very fortunate to be allowed to play with a great group of guys locally. Even when he struggled to play, they included him and that meant the world to him.
Gregg and I saw a lot of the world together. We shared many great memories from trips to Mexico, Hawaii, Thailand, China, Spain, France, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Turkey. His travelling days really started though as a teenager when he hitchhiked around Europe. That was in the days of hitchhiking around Europe on $10 per day. He actually came home with money once.
Gregg loved being a Dad and raising Ryan. He talked about falling in love with Ryan at first sight. He had lots of great memories taking Ryan camping and fishing and Ryan still loves to do both. There was something about a pet iguana in there too. He was very proud of Ryan for the man he has become and for making Ryan’s partner Jessica and son Jaxson the main priorities in his life.
Gregg was an entrepreneur to the core. He said that he was a terrible employee and unemployable. He owned a few different businesses – from a pump company to tech firms. His last business was Bekke Systems – selling patio furniture to the hospitality industry. He and his partner Dave Wang had a lot of fun systematizing the business and growing it. Dave turned out to be not only a great business partner, but a great friend. As Gregg’s Parkinson’s advanced, Dave filled in for Gregg more and more. They both retired after selling the business to one of Gregg’s bandmates.
Everyone who met Gregg liked him. It seemed like everyone he met became a friend. He was a genuine person who held life-long friendships. He considered himself very fortunate to still have a close group of friends from elementary school days. He also considered his Uncle Stu to be like a brother and got into all sorts of trouble with him after moving to Vancouver. I believe there was a lot of beer and parties involved.
As a spouse, Gregg was the best ever. He was supportive, loving and always up for whatever I wanted to do. He made sure I knew that I was loved to bits and that he would always be there for me. He taught me to be goofy. I used to tease him that he was actually only 8 years old. We were best friends who loved each other every day.
At dinner on our last night together, I said ‘it would really be nice if you could send me a sign that you’ve found peace’. I joked that maybe it could be a purple butterfly that was out of place somewhere. He responded that he would come up with a sign that I would definitely recognize as being only from him. At 8:50 pm on the night that he passed away, he sent me the sign. All of a sudden the light above the special picture he bought that’s above the fireplace inexplicably turned on. It was the perfect sign. The picture meant a lot to both of us and I was so happy to know that everything was good with him and that he had found relief from his body. It must have taken a lot of strength to keep that commitment to me, but that was Gregg. He always did his best to come through.
Ryan will be spreading some of Gregg’s ashes at their favourite camping and fishing spots, and the rest will be put directly into the ground at Heritage Gardens’ Willow Garden on 16th Avenue in Surrey. At this point, I don’t know when that will be or what it will look like. More information later.