Eldon Alfred Willis Fuller

 

Eldon Alfred Willis Fuller, of Edmonton passed away on Saturday July 6, 2019 at the age of 81 years in Edmonton’s General Hospital Palliative Care Unit.

Eldon is survived by his wife of 60 years, Annie; son Mark, daughter-in-law Dawna; granddaughters, Skyla and Siera; 2 brothers Carmen and Gordon; along with numerous nephews, nieces, relatives, friends, and neighbors. Eldon was preceded in death by his parents Walter and Gertrude, along with his oldest brother Kenneth.

 

The Beginning

            Eldon Fuller was born in Rocky Mountain House Alberta on Thursday Oct 7, 1937. The youngest of 4 brothers, Kenneth, Carmen, Gordon, and lastly Eldon. Eldon’s childhood in Rocky consisted of playing (often going out to the actual Rocky Mountain “Rock”), getting into trouble, and most of all fighting with his older brothers.

            Although Eldon’s dad Walter had fought in WW1, it was rarely something talked about in the family home. Everyone knew how bad it was, and how it had changed Walter’s life both mentally, and physically forever. Eldon never wanted to talk about this subject, which along with his dislike of the color green was enough to let you know his father’s story had an effect on him.

            In the summer of 1945, the family moved to Edmonton, where they lived in an apartment on 95 street and 107 Ave. While living there Eldon attended McCauley Elementary school. After a few years the family moved again to a house near the old Tyler’s Greenhouse located on 87 street, and 119 Ave. While living there Eldon attended Eastgate School through to grade 10.

            Eldon already had a keen interest in cars, and electrical work, so once he finished with grade school, Eldon began training to become an electrician. While apprenticing he took a job in Cold Lake Alberta, staying at the Roundel Hotel. His career though, did not end up in electrical work, but rather water work. Eldon was hired by the City of Edmonton in the water and sanitation department where he held various positions, including water meter installer, repairman, foreman, and other roles. No question though his priority in life was his family, and pursuits outside of work vs his career. Eldon retired in 1993 which was as early as possible with 34 years of service, bridging the last few months with unused holidays.

            Eldon met his future wife of 60 years at the Belmont Drive-In. They did not know each other prior to that night, having both come in separate cars, with separate friends. In fact when glances, jokes, and phone numbers were exchanged, Annie had to wait through other potential suiters until the boy she really wanted to get to know called. Eldon finally called, and a 2 year courtship ensued.

Eldon married Annie on the 16th of August, 1958, in Edmonton with the wedding taking place at the Metropolitan United Church and the reception taking place in the old Highlands Hall. Eldon truly loved, cared, respected, and worried about Annie right up to his last days. Even in the hospital, during his final weeks, he would perk up the most when she came to visit.

Prior to starting a family, Eldon enjoyed life with Annie. He purchased a brand new 1962 Ford Galaxy 500, 2 door hard top, with blue metallic paint and a 352 engine from Shirley Ford. Eldon was able to buy a coupe at that time, when some of his brothers were buying sedans because they had already started their families.  That was the only new car Eldon had ever bought, and he still owned it the day he passed away. Eldon and Annie traveled in the 62 to Las Vegas, Jack Pot, and Reno Nevada during numerus trips prior to starting a family. On one of the trips they even brought along Eldon’s father Walter.

Back then Eldon, and Annie, liked to throw the odd shindig in their basement which was decked out with a padded bar – that had rows of every available beer at the time displayed behind it, tiled floor for dancing, fireplace, and an aquarium built into the wall. These parties often included some live music by way of Eldon’s dad Walter on the drums, and family friends Mr. Hook on accordion and Norva on guitar and vocals. There are many photos of these times, and no question Eldon, and his friends and family liked to party. Additionally Eldon, and Annie enjoyed the sport of bowling, having won quite a few trophies back in the day.

            Just over 10 years after getting married, Eldon, and Annie were going to have a child. Hoping for a son, Eldon, declared that if they did indeed have a son, the family would take up camping as one of their primary summer activities. In 1969 their son Mark was born, so Eldon began building a camper with almost every possible amenity at the time because he knew Annie was not going to embrace any camping adventures with a tent. The family of 3 embarked on a yearly 2-4 week adventure across Western Canada, and the United states. Traveling from Alaska to California, and almost everywhere in-between. Always looking for the next spot to do a little fishing, Eldon usually liked to park for the night in the most secluded, isolated, and hard to get to, “camping spot”, or “place to park” next to a stream or lake.  Usually this required travel by; dirt road, dirt path, goat path, or creek bed to get there. Once parked Eldon would send his young son to look for some large rocks to make a campfire ring, while Eldon would break out the fishing gear to catch that evening’s supper. Nighttime around the campfire usually consisted of listening to a little 8 track music which included tunes from Jim Croce, John Denver, Simon & Garfunkel, Elvis, and maybe a bit of Chuck Berry.

            Eldon also embarked the family on a number of boating adventures, from a sport/fishing boat, which he completely re-built from a leaking, rotten, pile of fiberglass into a modern boat for the time to a canoe that was not as well received by the other 2 family members. Back when lakes still had plenty of fish Eldon would love to take the boat and catch a couple of buckets of perch with his family. He would then sit in the driveway and clean them on the bumper of his camper, with all the neighborhood cats hanging around for the scraps.

            Always one to have an interesting take on the normal events of life, including parenting. Eldon would help his young son with “show and tell” by sending him to school with; a jar full of mercury, some gold flakes, sand, and a gold pan to show how mercury can help you find gold when panning for it, or better yet with a jar of sand, and a blow torch so Mark could show the kids in grade 2 how glass is made. Helping his son in Scouts consisted of showing his son how if you hollow out a hand built wooden model car body and fill it with lead,  the car will actually go faster in the downhill race finale.

            As his son Mark grew older, Eldon started to introduce him to the world of cars. This included; taking him to the old Speedway dragstrip located on 127 street in North Edmonton (always getting themselves “pit passes” so they could go behind the scenes and see the cars getting worked on), enlisting his young son’s help to change the oil in the 62 Ford, letting Mark and his friends smash a junked car Eldon had pulled the motor from in his driveway, and eventually helping Mark fix up some muscle cars through his high school years. One car project Eldon particularly enjoyed was helping Mark and his high school friends cut the roof off of an old car Mark bought to turn into a “high school grad car”. Together, they turned it into a “homemade” convertible, and painted the car orange and brown tiger stripes- the colors of Mark’s high school.

Eldon was a fantastic dad to his son. In addition to some of the more unique parental lesions and adventures mentioned above, Eldon was always willing to love, nurture, mentor, and help his son. From building an ice rink in the back yard, to teaching him how to chop wood and build a campfire, to helping Mark build his own BMX bike. Later in life Eldon mentored Mark in buying his first car, his first personal home, and accepting his first serious job after college. Eldon was instrumental in fostering his son’s entrepreneurial spirit, pushing him to purchase a house while still in high school and helping on many of the first projects Mark and his business partner started. This included their first business venture of building a portable ice-cream stand from an old freezer which they cut the top into sections and built a trailer out of. Eldon helped the boys renovate numerous rental homes, and bar/restaurant projects over the years like a 3rd partner, without ever wanting anything but to help make them successful, to pass-on his knowledge, and be part of the excitement of a build.

 Additionally Eldon helped provide a very patient, non-judgmental and open environment for Mark to grow up in. Having endured countless times where Mark pushed the boundaries while growing up, including many late night loud parties with his friends in the basement, crashing a few cars, disappearing for hours on his bike with friends, and a few others that cannot be spoken about here.

            As Mark grew older, and the need for disposable income increased within the family Eldon decided he needed a second job, so he started his own bobcat excavating business (never having owned or operated a bobcat before). He ran this successful side business for about 6 years.

            When his son Mark married, and eventually had children with his wife Dawna, Eldon’s playful, and mischievous side really shined. He loved putting together mischievously wrapped gifts at Christmas for Dawna, but reveled in meeting his match with his daughter-in-law, who once placed a large amount of gravy packets within 4-5 boxes inside of one another, plus the addition of adding in various items that made noise to throw Eldon off the trail. Then Dawna had wrapped it all multiple times, making sure to rotate the boxes each time. Eldon loved it, and knew his son married an incredible girl. In his more active years Eldon loved interacting with his granddaughters, particularly when they were being fun, carefree and mischievous.  He loved when they would be a touch unruly or defiant with their parents, or when they were having a disagreement with one another. It may have been bringing back memories for Eldon of when he was a child, fighting, and bickering with one of his 3 brothers.

            When Mark, and Dawna outgrew their first home, Eldon made sure to keep his granddaughters close to him and Annie by continually presenting homes to Mark and Dawna in his neighborhood. Eventually Eldon found a deal too good to pass up only a few blocks from where Mark grew up. It was a house that was a bank repossession and of course it needed a full renovation. Eldon once again spearheaded this renovation project for his daughter-in-law, and granddaughters.

 

Eldon’s Interests

            In additional to his strong commitment to family, Eldon had a number of other passions, and interests which included:

Aquariums and Fish Tanks. At one point Eldon had 4+ fish tanks in his basement, breeding his own fish, and figuring out how to best get live plants to grow which included injecting CO2 into the tank.

Panning for Gold, where he built his own sluice box, and mined for Gold in the North Saskatchewan River.

Computers, with Eldon, and his neighbor across the alley “Willey” purchasing the various internal components of a computer and with some help from Annie’s Nephew putting them together made their own PC’s – back when they were just beginning to become popular.

Reading Books, in particular books by Louis L’amour, and other “Westerns”. Eldon had taught himself to speed read, so he would finish a pocket book within an hour and when tested he would be able to talk more about the story than most other people having read every word.

Campfires, even in his back yard.

Putzing around the garage or his work station in the basement.

And..

Growing tomatoes, with Eldon building a hydroponic greenhouse behind his garage so he could grow the best and juiciest tomatoes many have ever tasted. Apparently he grew some pretty good catnip as well, because all the neighborhood cats would hang out by the greenhouse door waiting for Eldon to give them all a small pinch. If you believe in re-incarnation, maybe Eldon will return as a cat because they sure did like him.

 

Eldon Fuller was one of a kind to be sure.

            Determined, Willful, Resourceful, Intelligent, Inspirational, Inventive, Fun Loving, Adventurous Hard Working, Tuitional, Mentoring, Caring, Old School, Tough, Stubborn, Independent, Mischievous, Loyal, Loving, and Helpful.

Most people who knew Eldon would know his strongest attribute would be Determination – with a strong dose of hard work.

Eldon believed…

If there is a will there is a way. Very little, if anything got in the way of Eldon’s determination to get something done.

If you wanted something done – you did it.

If you wanted something built – you built it.

If you wanted to buy something – you found a way to make it happen.

When there is no obvious way to do something you create one.

If you wanted something that seemed impossible you willed a way to make it happen.

And most of all. If someone says it can’t be done, then for sure, Eldon knew it can be done.

Some additional examples of Eldon’s determination in life:

When his son bought a house with a dirt basement and wondered if it was worth fixing, Eldon dug and built a basement by raising the house on stilts, digging out the basement with a bobcat, poured a concrete basement, and then set the house back down. (Funny side story, Mark’s business partner also named Mark, but last name Fitton lived on the same block, so he would come and help Eldon on the house. One day while helping Eldon at the house “Fitton” mentioned the precarious safety situation with the house up on stilts literally swaying in the wind, and Eldon underneath digging out the basement in a bobcat, all while “Fitton” was under the house moving items out of Eldon’s way. To this Eldon replied “not to worry but if you see me run just follow”, with virtually no actual concern about safety. Fitton knew that day that he could work with the “Fullers”.)

The strongest example of Eldon’s determination was when after suffering a heart attack, and it was said he would never be able to live back home again, Eldon did indeed move back home again. –

Eldon essentially had passed away once already. In November 2017, he was home alone, and noticed he was extremely out of breath. He called 911, opened the front door, and then collapsed, stopped breathing, and then his heart stopped. When emergency services arrived they revived him. He went to emergency and then ICU. They figured he was without a pulse for about 9 minutes, at age 79.

In ICU, because of his age, and the amount of time his heart was stopped the head ICU doctor was concerned Eldon was taking up an ICU unit with little to no hope of any sort of recovery back to a normal life. It was suggested by this doctor that he should be taken off support. The family declined, and the next day Eldon started to wake up showing strong early signs of a recovery by writing on some paper “get me out”.  Eleven weeks later, after a second heart attack, and many more  medical staff suggesting it was still highly unlikely Eldon would recover enough to live life independently again, Eldon left the hospital. Still not quite having reached his final goal of returning home he endured 4 weeks in a nursing home. When the suggestion was brought up with the nursing home that Eldon could try moving back home again with the use of “Home care”, they asked if he could be picked up by 5pm that afternoon. I guess the nursing home may have felt the same way about Eldon, as he did about them. Eldon had one last hurdle before his independence could begin again – a group of geriatric experts needed to see that he could look after himself at home. Well…the experts were no match for Eldon, and his self-determination. After showing them how he would clean himself, go to the bathroom, and make his way around the house in a wheelchair, the final test came – preparing his own meals. The experts had noticed some cans of “Chunky beef soup” in his cupboard, and suggested he make a bowl of soup. Eldon replied he would be happy to, and promptly pulled out a frying pan and fired up the burner on the stove. WELL you should have seen the look of the experts, jumping full on the “Eldon what are you doing”, “sorry dear you must be confused”, “you need a pot to cook your soup”, etc. Eldon just looked at them, and calmly asked how the hell they expected him to see what was going on in a pot from a wheelchair, and then explained that with a frying pan, he could more easily stir the soup, see the soup, pour the soup, and cook the soup faster.  When confronted, the experts could not disagree, and even liked his method of cooling the soup off on a phone book with a towel over the top of it instead of using a pot stand. Eldon had his independence back again, and won-over a couple of skeptics in the process. Within a couple of months, Eldon was out of the wheelchair, fixing things around the house, driving again, and living life as if nothing had ever happened. The power of self-determination!

            Eldon did not like many doctors, however there was at least one he came to trust, his geriatric specialist who appreciated Eldon’s determination. She had mentioned shortly before his passing that she had seen few people if any in her travels that had the self-determination of Eldon. She said she was honored to have met him and got to know him well enough to see what all he was made of.

            Eldon was intelligent, beyond his schooling, even beyond his personal learnings. He had a second, 3rd, and 4th gear of intelligence that was mischievous, and well disguised – “Sly like a fox”. Just when you thought you might have him on something, BAM there it was. It may have been a question about; the way something is done, or the exact number of volts an electric motor has in a certain type of furnace, some medical fact or procedure, a political question, or how to leverage one house to buy another,  or even something obscure like what the difference in taste and ingredients were for some brand of maple syrup sold under the same name in 2 different grocery stores, but one was made differently than the other, and of course Eldon noticed the difference. NEVER could someone fully dismiss what Eldon had said because most likely he would be right and he would revel just slightly in his win. If he explained to you how to do something, and you decided not to take the advice when doing it, you could feel the “I told you so” if it did not work out the way you wanted. The good thing was Eldon would then stay up all night helping you fix, or rebuild it. Eldon also liked to debate. More often than not he would win, or at least put up a good fight. It was like a form of communication for him, the more you pushed him in a debate the more he would give back in knowledge, like a form of bartering. He could debate all night if needed.

 

Eldon’s willingness to help.

            Often forgotten, especially in his elder years was Eldon’s heart of gold, his desire to pass on knowledge, and his willingness to help family, friends, and neighbors.

Eldon helped no one more than his own son Mark, however, he shared his helping ways with almost everyone who knew him. Most likely if you had a relationship with Eldon, he helped you at some point in a significant way.

When his daughter-in-law Dawna purchased her own hair salon business, it was Eldon with some help from Mark’s cousin Warren who built all of the new stations, the front desk, display shelves, and display cabinets out of birch plywood.

Over the years, he helped people with everything from painting their cars, to building garages, renovating basements, doing electrical work, digging bushes, fixing engines big or small, towing people, you name it, he most likely helped somebody do it. Even in his later years, Eldon bought a car off of a neighbor who needed to raise money quickly for an emergency move back to Ontario, and another time during his brief stay in a nursing home where he gave another resident one of his watches, because the watch of his friend had stopped working.

            Like an ancient guru of handyman skills, he was always willing to pass on his knowledge, techniques, and ideas to all those who were willing to listen. He would explain how something worked, or how he felt was the best way to tackle a problem, or what not to do, based on his personal experience. Eldon was a wealth of handyman knowledge. Often, his suggestions would seem unorthodox, or from another time, but almost always, if given a chance the suggestion would work in practice.

 

Eldon Fuller, One of a kind.

Old School, Black Coffee, Canadian Whiskey, Craven Menthol Cigarettes, Louis L’amour books,  Clint Eastwood movies, Fish Tanks, Bad Doctors, Great White North pizza’s, FORD cars and trucks, Camp Fires, Walks down the alley, Trucker Hats before they became hipster, Boxer Dogs, Lazy Boy Chairs, CokenotPepsi, Good Fish & Chips, and last but not least Blueberry Pies.

 

In Memory

We know in heaven, Eldon is keeping watch over his family, and friends while sitting around a campfire in the sky, maybe with a whiskey and coke, having spent the day either putzering around his garage there, or fishing a great stream.

Good bye POPS, thanks for everything, especially your love, support, mentoring, and encouragement. I would not be who and where I am today without you.

Good bye Eldie, I love you. Thank you for being a good husband and father. Thank you for all the adventures, gifts, and memories.

Good bye Grandpa, Good bye Eldon, Good bye Brother, Good bye Mr. Fuller – thanks for the help, the good times, the laughs, the knowledge, the hospitality, the conversation, the stories, and the chance to get to know you well enough or long enough to see all the great and interesting pieces that are you.

 

 

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