July 12, 1928 – Feb. 18, 2016
Ben passed away suddenly and peacefully at 87 years old in his own home after stoically battling heart failure for a number of years.
He is survived by his wife Bernice, son Chris, grandson Samuel, sisters Britta, Eva, and Berit, brother Göthe as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and their children.
Ben was born in Sweden, one of eight children born to Rickard and Milde Karlsson. (Brothers Sigge, Sven and Ove predeceased Ben.) He was raised on a working farm and left school after grade 5 to work full time for his grandfather on a neighbouring farm. He later completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter and became a woodworking teacher. He excelled at sports and collected medals as a highly-ranked light heavy-weight amateur boxer.
In 1959 at age 31, Ben left Sweden to immigrate to Canada after reading about Canada and seeing promotional posters illustrating its wildness and beauty.
Once in Canada, Ben taught himself to speak and write English using a Swedish to English dictionary. He worked as a carpenter in various places and as a prospector on Vancouver Island. He met Bernice in Nanaimo, and they were married in 1965. With Bernice’s help Ben opened a Danish furniture import store in Nanaimo and he built a house there. But in 1972, Ben decided he wanted to move to the Cariboo to be a cowboy. Ben and Bernice sold everything and bought the Lac La Hache Guest Ranch, which they ran as a dude ranch for a few years. Ben eventually returned to carpentry to pay the bills. However, at age 50 he decided to take up truck-driving and never looked back. He drove truck (highway, logging or dump truck) until he was 81 years old. Even after that, it took years for him to accept that his trucking days were over.
Ben was known for his work ethic, generosity, strong Swedish accent, and his sense of humour. He remained very independent to the end, living alone in a house overlooking the Lac la Hache lake and Highway 97, where he could watch the trucks drive past.
He never fell out of love with the Cariboo, particularly the rolling hills visible from Highway 97 near Lac La Hache. To him it was the most beautiful place in the world.
In his last years Ben was grateful for the help and companionship from several home care workers whom he called his “girls”. He was also grateful for the help of his dear friend Susan Zack, who, among other things, faithfully took him shopping weekly after he lost his driver’s licence.
Ben remained close to Bernice even though they had lived separately for many years. They talked frequently on the phone and were always there to support one another. Periodically, Ben enjoyed visits from his son and grandson. He also kept in touch with his family in Sweden.
Ben would have happily continued to work forever. Sadly, it was not to be.
He will be remembered for his gentle strength and the sparkle in his eye.
We will always miss you, Ben.
A celebration of Ben’s life will be held on April 30th from 1 to 4pm at 4043 Bjornson Rd. in Lac La Hache. Ben’s family can be reached by email at email@example.com.