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I have the unusual privilege of writing my own obituary. This ‘good fortune,’ if we’ll call it that, follows a long-standing diagnosis of multiple myeloma, and more recently, acute myeloid leukemia. While the past eight years of illness have brought many hardships and grief to myself and those I love, they have also left me with moments of cherished closeness, introspection, honesty, and vulnerability.
I was born on November 25, 1960 in Dauphin, Manitoba to Fred and Mary Herman. I grew up on a farm outside the nearby town of Ethelbert, under the support and guidance of my older siblings, June, Helen, and Buddy. Later I moved to Winnipeg, where I met my cherished wife Vicki, then to Saskatoon, where we had the absolute pleasure of raising two daughters: Lindsay and Sarah.
At all stages of adulthood, travel has been an important aspect of my life. I participated in an archeological dig in Europe, married my wife Vicki in Greece, travelled to unfamiliar corners of Mongolia and Colombia to help establish local co-operatives, and have had the privilege of witnessing many more countries, cultures, and lifestyles in between. Most recently, I enjoyed a trip to Iceland alongside Vicki, Lindsay, and Sarah. While ‘wild and crazy’ trips abroad were incredible and meaningful, equally so were special adventures much closer to home, including everything from snowshoeing and skiing with friends, weekends away at cabins in the woods, and afternoons at local conservation areas. Whether near or far, for work or for pleasure, the ability to travel was something I held dear.
Another important place in my life was a property by the name of ‘Jadri’ on the shore of Lake Winnipeg. I have spent more than thirty summers at Jadri alongside my wife Vicki, her welcoming and loving family, many friends, and my own children. Whether it included spending hours around the campfire, in the bush, or under the stars, Jadri helped remind me of the immense value of time in nature, with loved ones, and perhaps with many of the big distractions in life out of view.
Two central themes that tended to repeat themselves across my lifetime were the importance of co-operatives and the value of education. Co-ops as both a model and an ethos were hugely important in my childhood on the farm, in my career and research interests, and in the communities within which I participated. Likewise, the importance of education was a theme that dictated my life path, my career choices, the qualities we encouraged in our children, and my daily life. Both co-operatives and education were present in my work, which prior to my illness, involved first a period of time with the Canadian Co-operative Association, followed by nearly two decades with the University of Saskatchewan: first at the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, and later with the College of Arts & Science. Both co-operatives and education embody the things that I have come to value in my community, in political spheres, in global contexts, and right within my own home.
A final and most important aspect of my life was the ongoing presence of kind, genuine, ‘salt of the earth’ friends and family. The weeks preceding my death reminded me of the absolute privilege it has been to live life in such company. In writing this piece, I have intentionally left out the names of these many cherished individuals, as they have all touched my life in a unique way, and to rank or include only some feels wholly inadequate. While you may not see your name included here, I hope that each of you will trust that your companionship, assistance, and absolute ocean of love have meant more to me than I can express. I have received kindness, friendship, and support in so many unique and distinct ways, and hope that each of you will trust the importance you have held in my life.
Thank you to all those across my life —whether family, friends, colleagues, healthcare workers, or acquaintances — who have shown kindness, and of whom it has been a great privilege to know.
In lieu of flowers, I ask that you consider fiscal donations to the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan, or blood donations to Canadian Blood Services.
Until we meet again,
A Celebration of Roger’s Life will be held at Saskatoon Funeral Home on Sunday, September 5, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. For those not able to attend the service, the family invites you to join the service via livestream. To view the livestream and leave condolences please visit Roger’s tribute page at www.saskatoonfuneralhome.com. We ask that those joining us for remembrance in-person are fully vaccinated and wearing a mask.