Posted: July 27, 2020
Obituary for Rolf Heer
April 7, 1954 to July 21, 2020
With deepest sorrow we announce the passing of Rolf, Radium’s legendary Woodcarver, after a long and valiant battle with cancer.
God broke the mold after Rolf was born to the late Albert and Anna Heer-Zimmerman, in Glarus, Switzerland. He was one of three children – a bright, creative, engaging and highly mischevious young boy and he was a handful for his straight-laced, conservative parents.
By the time he was in grade 5, they were so exasperated, they put him in an all-girls school, just to teach him a lesson. To their dismay, he loved it there – and until the day he died, some of the fondest memories of his childhood were in that classroom, knitting his own socks, sewing his own dresses, baking muffins, playing classical piano…and communing with the girls.
After completing high school in Switzerland, he got his Certificate in Forestry and emigrated to Canada at the age of 21, first landing in Montreal. From there he came to Radium and was employed by B.C Forestry Services. Rolf loved it here and said it “smelled like Switzerland”, so he settled in and built his legacy – the “Home of a Thousand Faces”, which was famous worldwide and featured on TV’s “Weird Homes”.
He became known as “The wizard who guarded the crack in the mountain” (Sinclair Canyon) until his beloved home and all of his creations, burned to the ground in November of 2018.
Rolf experienced the world and traveled to over 80 countries, making life-long friends along the way. Up until recent years, he spent his winters quietly fishing for his dinner in Thailand.
Rolf touched many, many lives and was the most authentic human being anyone could meet. When you were face to face with him, you couldn’t help but look inside your own soul. There was no hiding from someone like Rolf – everything was on the table. He exhibited a rare honesty, a childlike wonder and a free and generous spirit like no other.
Rolf leaves to mourn his passing, his brother Albert (Boni) Heer (Thailand) (son Mark, daughter Sybille); his sister Esther Trueti-Heer (husband Martin, daughters Claudia, Sonja & Nicole, son Patrick (Switzerland); Uncle Bob Zimmerman (Radium), daughters Nicole and Denise; and his many friends and fans worldwide.
He wanted to express his gratitude to Drs. Johnson and Manheimer, to very special nurses Lola and Vivian, and to Margaret, his devoted caregiver, without whom he would not have survived the past year . Thank you also to Columbia Gardens for their exemplary care in his last few months.
As per his wishes, Rolf has been cremated and will be interred at a later date in the memorial wall behind St.Joseph’s Catholic Church in Radium, where he joked that he had “bought a condo on the side of the hill so I can keep an eye on my place”. He has donated his famous little corner of the planet to the Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, with plans to build what he wanted to call “Woodcarver Park” in his memory.
I saw this piece of wood one day,
When I picked it up it seemed to say
“There’s something hiding inside of me,
Remove some chips and you will see.”
I looked to see what I might find
And soon an image came to mind.
My task was now to set it free
What’s hidden in this piece of tree.
By one final cut it was set free,
My work of art for all to see.
This piece of wood, which would just lay
And see its body soon decay.
Was now transformed and given life
With careful cuts of gouge and knife,
By carving something from this tree
It lives again because of me.
Photograph courtesy Marlene Chabot