October 17, 1926 – June 24, 2013
After an extended hospital stay, (Arthur) Kurt Hengstler passed away quietly the evening of June 24, 2013 at Lady Minto Hospital on Salt Spring Island at the age of 86. Kurt will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 64 years, Esther Hengstler, and his 4 children—Walter, Ray, Arnie, & Marlene. He will be fondly remembered by his 6 grandsons, Ben, Chris, Kevin, James, Jameson, and Connor, as well as his great granddaughters, Samantha, Brooklyn & Ellery.
Kurt was born in Punnichy, Saskatchewan on October 17, 1926. After growing up on the farms of Saskatchewan, Kurt traded farming for West Coast fishing in 1942 with his first boat the 124 where he had to pull salmon net in by hand. He returned to Saskatchewan in 1947 during which time he met and married Esther Bratushesky. Kurt returned to BC fishing in 1955—gillnetting for salmon on the Fraser River and chasing herring in Georgia Strait—while raising a family with Esther in Richmond. In Richmond, Kurt named his 4th boat, the Marlene H –for his daughter. Kurt named a later boat, the Marita Lea, after his first daughters-in-law. (Esther suffered from perpetual sea-sickness—so she was glad no boat was ever named for her—or she might have felt obligated to travel in it!) Kurt moved to Saltspring in 1972 with Esther and youngest son, Arnie, where he fished both salmon and crab. Here he built his salmon gillnetter, the Gulf Isle, with his sons, Ray and Arnie—whose own boats came from the same mould. From 1984 to 1994, Kurt spent winters on Salt Spring building approximately 50 fishing boat hulls with his partner, Pat Fraser. During the summers, Kurt & the Gulf Isle served as a test fishing boat for the Pacific Salmon Commission on the “Cottonwood Drift” of Fraser River from 1969 to 1995.
Throughout his hospital stay, Kurt often spoke of the remarkable kindness and attention he received from all the nurses, aides, staff, and doctors at Lady Minto—and as his family, we witnessed it firsthand. The family would like to say a special thanks to Dr. David Woodley who supported Kurt throughout his various health issues and extended hospital stay, as well as the other doctors who cared for him. Perhaps our greatest thanks goes to the many nurses of Lady Minto whose care and attention eased Kurt tremendously in his last days. Only in a community such as Salt Spring could we be blessed with such a professional, caring lot of special individuals who tend to our sick, elderly, and dying, with grace and love.
At Kurt’s direction and request, there will be no funeral services. Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation in recognition of the wonderful service Lady Minto Hospital provided to Kurt over the last year.