Eternal optimist, doting grandfather, gardener, gentle man. Born Sept. 28, 1925, in Bruno, Sask. Died July 4, 2011, in Sudbury of cancer, aged 85.
The summer of 2010 was the last time Ben Greuel planted a vegetable garden. It was a beautiful and productive garden, the culmination of 54 years of working the soil and improving the land. Even after the sale of his house in 1989, the next two owners were more than happy to have Ben continue to grow his garden.
For several years, he would say in the fall that he didn’t think he’d plant again, but over the winter he’d get enthusiastic enough to order seeds, and once the seeds arrived he was committed. He didn’t order seeds last January. Everyone knew that Ben and the garden were intimately tied and one could not exist without the other. It was no surprise that when Ben could no longer plant, he passed away after a 10-year fight with cancer.
Ben was born in Bruno, Sask., one of seven children of Henry and Theresa (Koffing) Greuel. Growing up on the family farm, Ben learned to work hard. By the age of 13, he was working like a man, and that ethic carried him through his life. He never shied away from a job that needed to be done. Hopefully, all who knew Ben learned a little of the benefits of hard work and had the chance to hear a story about milking or haying on the Prairies. He once said that you are “either making money or spending money” – you were either working to make something better or you were spending money to occupy your time.
In the early forties, Ben spent winters in Ontario working first as a lumberjack and then at Inco. Each summer he would return to Bruno to work on the farm. In 1954, he settled in Sudbury. He met Elsie Domaratzki of Ethelbert, Man., who was also working at Inco, and they married in 1956. They purchased a piece of land west of Naughton and the name Bruno was brought to Ontario as Bruno Street. Over the next nine years, Ben and Elsie brought Jeff, Jim, Catherine, John and Jessica into the world.
Ben was not a scholarly person but he was a smart person. He was an avid reader of books and The Globe and Mail, an eloquent speaker and a great card player who could anticipate the cards in your hand by your play. The chance to talk to Ben on a wide range of subjects is greatly missed.
The produce of his garden will also be missed. The first asparagus, carrot, potato, corn and tomato were anxiously awaited. When he no longer needed to feed his children, the produce would find its way onto neighbours’ plates and to the soup kitchen.
Ben was always proud of the family he and Elsie raised and the 10 grandchildren who followed. When you leave this Earth, the world should be a better place for your having passed through, and in Ben’s case that is true.
By Ben’s children.
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