I feel like I am supposed to give you a biography of my Dad. To tell you all about his life and times growing up. But the truth is I don’t know too much. He wasn’t much of a talker in that way. Sure, we all know him as a great storyteller but he was never one to sit and answer questions about his life and usually his stories that he did share were full of fun and humour or sharing about someone’s recent achievements, or the latest project he helped someone with. Glen, Dave, Bill, and Barry have all given you a great idea of who my Dad was from their unique perspectives and experiences with him so I’m just going to give you mine, with some facts that I do know, thrown in.
Dennis Robert Pringle was Born on August 26, 1945, at 3:00 pm in the afternoon, weighing in at 7lbs, 7ozs. A second son for Malcolm and Hazel, and a little brother and built-in best-friend for Gary. I like to imagine what that day must have been like; the day that Dad entered the world; to experience the shift his presence created. The world became a place filled with more love than measurable and a whole lot of stubborn opinions.
He later became a big brother himself, first to Carolyn and then to Tracy.
According to a baby book kept by my Grandmother Hazel, Dad “was a very good baby and never kept Mommy and Daddy awake at night. His fussy time was afternoons when he was very little.” He had very little hair until he was about one year old and didn’t walk until he was 17 months old because he found that crawling was a faster and more direct way of getting things done. Little did my Grandmother know that this was just a precursor to how Dad would take on life.
Dad was raised in Vancouver and spent summer holidays in Boundary Bay. He loved model trains and learning all about electrical, carpentry and other trades in high school. As a young adult, he’d spend many weekends living it at pubs in Point Roberts and simply enjoying life with his friends. And at all ages, he was a getter’ done kind of guy with a strong work ethic and a gift for helping others.
Christmas 1968 Dad met the love of his life. He knew within moments of meeting Maureen Ann Wakely that she would be the one. Even Dad’s friends knew that she would be the girl he would marry. Dad was so taken with her that this very weekend, 50 years ago, Dad cut short a trip away with his friends because he missed Maureen too much. Just as the first men were landing on the moon on July 20th, 1969, Dad came walking up the path to Mom’s family’s home to surprise her.
While it took mom a little longer to give her heart away, ultimately it was Dad’s kind heart, that won her over. His willingness to help others in their need and the genuine way Dad cared for her and the people she loved was unmatched by anyone else she’d ever met. Though different in many ways, they have been a perfect match and tomorrow Mom and Dad would have celebrated 47 years married. And what a beautiful life is had been.
In Dad’s own words, taken from a speech he wrote for my mom’s retirement:
“We started out building our hobby farm in Langley on 2 ½ acres. During that time we raised 3 children, 1 dairy cow, 5 day-old calves, horses and baby fouls, pigs, wiener pigs, chickens, goats and sheep, a beef cow and her 2 calves.
One time, we had a vet to our farm and he noticed that even Maureen was pregnant so we nicknamed our farm, “Pregnancy Acres’.”
Dad and Mom embarked on many adventures together in life. From building the hobby farm in Willoughby to building the house in Murrayville. From family road trips to Disneyland and Tofino to the infamous family vacation aboard a houseboat on the Shuswap with Johnny and Jeannie, when Dad shaved his mustache and all the parents kicked all the kids off the boat in the middle of a rainstorm just so they could have “a moment of peace!”
Together they collected countless friends along the way, adding to the growing community of people they loved and enjoyed life with. They won a horseshoe throwing contest at the Kelly’s annual tournament and purchased a cabin in Point Roberts – a little bedroom community where they both spent time as children and young adults and worked hard to give Matthew, Marshall and me the opportunities and experiences they had as children, and even more.
Their adventures of married life continued and included buying their first motorhome and dreaming only of retirement to actually retiring, selling their home and embarking on one last great adventure together: motorhome-living and traveling the world. Between Dad’s dream of traveling throughout North America in a giant motorhome and their involvement with the Friendship Force, Mom and Dad embraced many opportunities to travel and see new places and to expand their community of friends across the globe.
Mom and Dad’s relationship was real, it was human (aka not perfect) and it was inspiring to witness especially this past year. The way