Monday, July 30, 2007

Funerals, Television and Imagination

I have attended too many funerals lately. A few days I ago I attended the funeral of the father of a good friend and this morning I attended Dr. Paul Bookhalter's funeral. Dr. Paul was a good man - I have included his obituary below as it appeared in today's Regina Leader Post.

My connection to Paul was through the synagogue but more directly through the Regina and District Jewish Senior's group. He had been their president for 17 years providing inspiration and leadership. As always I am amazed that competent, caring people can have such a profound effect on the lives of the people around them - Paul was one of those people.

Published: 07/30/2007
Regina, SK

BOOKHALTER, DR. PAUL, D.D.S._Dr. Paul Bookhalter, a prominent Regina dentist, passed away on Saturday, July 28, 2007, at age 84, peacefully and with family at his side. Born in Winnipeg, Dr. Bookhalter served with the R.C.A.F. and Royal Canadian Artillery during the Second World War. At the end of the war he attended the University of Manitoba and the University of Oregon Dental School, graduating in 1949. He then joined the dental practice of his older brother Ben. They were later joined in practice by his brother-in-law Jack Kanee, and worked along side his sister-in-law Myrtle Bookhalter for 40 years. Dr Bookhalter retired in 1990 when he lost his eyesight. Dr. Paul, as he was known by many, was a leader in the Jewish community in Regina, and a very active volunteer and philanthropist in the larger community. He was an energetic member of Regina B'nai Brith, acting as chair of their charity fundraising dinner and as coordinator of their monthly bingos for residents at the Wascana Veterans' Hospital for several decades. In honour of his efforts, he was named Citizen of the Year by the B'nai B'rith in 1994, and an honourary member and "special mentsch " by Hadassah-Wizo in 1999. Dr. Paul was also honoured to be recognized for his volunteer work and community service when he received a Commonwealth Medal in 1992. More recently, he served as president of the Regina Jewish Seniors Group. Even after he became blind, Dr. Paul remained an active volunteer, working hard to organize the CNIB's Golf Classic for many years, and as a member of the Saskatchewan Blind Sports Association. Dr. Paul did not let his disability slow him down. He participated in blind bowling, was a member of the Saskatchewan Blind Golf team, and was also a familiar figure at the Regina YMCA, where he exercised early every morning. Dr. Paul also remained a tremendous support to family and friends from across North America, keeping in touch by tape and telephonel Dr. Paul was predeceased by his two beloved siblings, Ben Bookhalter and Sophie Kanee. He was a very proud and loving uncle to his niece Marylin Kanee and nephew Lyle Kanee, and his two grandnephews, Ben and Joseph Kanee. Paul will also be missed by his sister-in-law Myrtle Bookhalter of Kelowna, B.C. and his dear friend and caregiver, Dianne Newstead, who has been his constant companion for many years. Paul's warm, gentle smile, his endearing sense of humour and his insatiable desire to help others, will be missed by many. His family would like to extend their deep appreciation to everyone at the Regina General Hospital Cardiac Care Unit, where Paul spent his final days, and to the Regina community as a whole which so warmly embraced him and supported him for over 60 years. A funeral service will be held at Beth Jacob Synagogue, 4715 McTavish, Regina, at 10:00 a.m., Monday, July 30, 2007. Burial will take place at 8:00 p.m. on the same day, at the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery in Winnipeg. Shiva on Monday, July 30 will follow the interment, at Gwen Sector Senior Centre, 1588 Main Street, Winnipeg. On Tuesday, July 31 and Wednesday, August 1, members of the family will sit shiva in Regina, at Beth Jacob Synagogue, beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night. If desired, donations may be made to a fund to be established in Dr. Bookhalter's name at Beth Jacob Synagogue, 4715 McTavish, Regina, SK, S4S 6H2,, or to the CNIB, 2550 Broad Street Regina, SK., S4P 3Z4, An online book of condolences may be signed at

After the ceremonial part of the funeral there was a lunch in the synagogue social hall. We sat with friends including Steve and Penny Wolfson. I have written about them before - they are the creative force behind the television series Edifice and Us. I asked Steve if they had been picked up for another season and he responded by saying they had and were filming more episodes. He told us about some of the exploration he was doing in the province.

I wondered if he was going to run out of buildings and said that if he ever did he'd just have to 'make up' a building.

I've been thinking about that so if Steve and Penny are reading here is my fantasy episode.

In a very remote part of Saskatchewan is a lake called Living Lake. Virtually no one knows about this lake as it is one of the few lakes that is privately owned. The owners, a reclusive couple, made their millions in ways that they rarely speak of these days and have devoted the most recent years of their lives to maintaining the buildings that sit on the shores of Living Lake.

There are 5 buildings there. Each is unique in its own way and each with its own story.

The oldest building is reminiscent of a mud hut or sod house (perhaps really a Yaodongs or a Quiggly). The stories told of the beginning days of colonials on the prairies are part of this building's story.

The next oldest building can best be described as a barn but may more accurately be called a farmhouse for humans and live stock

The next building is the building love built - elements of the Taj Mahal, Romantic Architecture and practical prairie sensibilities are all present here. Obviously transitions have happened around the time of the building of this building

The next building is the work building - rooms for the building of boats, airplanes, automobiles and other even more exotic items to be built are all part of this building

And the most recent building is the result of the owners' need to be completely independent of everything around them. This building is completely off the grid and is totally self-sufficient. In exploring this building it is clear that many of its components were produced in the work building

There it is - just in case Steve and Penny run out of real buildings they don't need to worry about where the next episode will come from!


Anonymous April said...

Continue this start of a very interesting book! It represents the stages of life--

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