It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Klaus Springer on May 7th, 2022 at 95 years of age. He is survived by Carla, his wife of 68 years, his three children Arno (Cindy Breitkreutz), Heide McClintock (Carl), and Dawn Ervin (Kent). He also leaves four grandchildren, Angela Houghton (James), Heather Tegart (Justin), Emily Smyth (Leo), and Justin Woodman (Chloe Toel), his sisters Angelica Burgel and Gabrielle Putzi (Robert), and six great-grandchildren. (Nathaniel and Everett Tegart, Isabelle and Zoey Houghton, and George and Audrey Smyth.). His brother Dieter in Berlin predeceased him.
Klaus (Guenter Peter Eberhard) Springer was born in Berlin, Germany on February 15, 1927, to Bruno and Dorothea Springer. Klaus lived with his three siblings on a leafy street in the blue-collar East Berlin suburb of Weissensee. As a boy, he grew up playing with his older brother and their friends, tumbling around on his father’s furniture factory floor (which was verboten), and determining soccer to be the utmost priority. When not at play, Klaus attended school and the local church on Sunday with his family.
Klaus received his carpentry apprenticeship in Berlin before being inducted into the German Army in 1944. Initially stationed in Denmark, Klaus as a naïve and brave 17-year-old, decided that his services to “save the country” would be best used back in Berlin, where he arrived only to be captured by the Russian Red Army. He was transported as a prisoner of war to camps in the far reaches of Russia where he spent the next four years.
He barely survived his ordeal and was eventually released and allowed to return to Berlin to reunite with his family, three years after the war was officially over.
Post-war Berlin did not offer many opportunities for the young, ambitious Klaus, so he set his sights on a new start. He initially chose Tasmania but was persuaded by his best friend Otti to turn on his heels, go back into the booking office and change his ticket for Canada so they could go on this adventure together. Thus are life-changing decisions made.
Arriving in Montreal by ship in 1952 and then travelling cross country by train, being rudely introduced to Root Beer (tragically mistaken for actual beer by these German lads pooling their last dimes), Klaus eventually made his way to Calgary. He found shelter with the Berndt family - earlier arrivals that generously opened their home to all comers. They remained very dear life-long friends. With lots of work and possibilities, Klaus’s parents and his two sisters left the shattered remains of their home in East Berlin and soon followed him to Calgary. Through mutual friends, he met a fetching young lady, another German import, named Carla. In 1954, Klaus and Carla married and children soon followed.
Busy as a carpenter, Klaus strove to provide for his new family. Working for Engineered Homes nailing floors and decks, he approached management with a novel concept. Instead of paying Klaus by the hour, why not pay him by the piece, which would be more productive for everyone? In addition, instead of Engineered Homes hiring and looking after all of the carpenters, why not let Klaus oversee them and their work too? The concept of the sub-trade was born. From there, Klaus built a spec home or two, and before long Springer Construction Ltd. was founded. The company soon became one of the largest construction companies in Western Canada, renowned for its quality product. Soon there was a painting division, a financing arm, and an oil and gas subsidiary.
With an ever-expanding business, Klaus pressed ahead on other fronts. He was a founding partner of Carma Developers and was instrumental in the creation of the Alberta New Home Warranty Program, a vital part of Alberta’s modern house construction industry. He was President of the Calgary (1968), the Alberta (1975), and the Canadian (1981) Home Builders Associations, and was the National President of HUDAC (1981). He won many awards and was well respected in the business for his honesty and integrity, his innovation, and his cooperative spirit.
His work took him and Carla all over the world to represent and promote the Canadian home building industry.
In 1982 the Alberta economy came crashing down, and with it, Springer Construction. Pulling hard on his bootstraps, Klaus pushed ahead, putting business and land pieces back together culminating in land acquisition and custom home building, creating the Calgary district of Pump Hill.
Despite all of the business success, Klaus always counted his blessings more than he counted money. He was interested in everyone he met and always gave people the benefit of the doubt. He never failed to look around him and appreciate all the beauty and marvel of life. He made sure he enjoyed every moment to the fullest.
His love of the Invermere valley began with his and Carla’s honeymoon on the shores of Lake Lillian, camping in his “luxury” work van. After a few vacations in rental cabins on the shores of Lake Windermere, Klaus convinced Carla that they should buy their own cabin. It had no running water and only a wood-burning stove for heat, but it was a slice of heaven. Today there is “Opa’s new cabin”, built-in 1988. It is a place for everyone to gather, to re-energize, to connect, and spend those glorious summer days. The experiences forged there, by the lake, has molded and bound his family together. The cabin is one of his true family legacies.
Both Klaus and Carla shared a love of travel and have been all over the world, always finding time in a busy life for one more adventure. The Calgary Winter Club was also a large part of Klaus’s life with the whole family swimming, playing tennis, badminton, and meeting up with friends. Klaus was also a patron of the arts, accumulating an impressive art collection, and spending large amounts of his time, energy, and money in support of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Failing health over the last three years in no way diminished his fighting spirit. Every setback was met with resolve, the desire to keep going, and a positive outlook. Throughout his life, even nearing the end, he never complained. He was always quick to accept and come to terms with whatever life dealt. He made the very best of every situation so that for him, the sun was always shining.
Klaus was an excellent businessman and a true family man. Fair, open-minded, even-tempered, kind, charitable, honest, personable, and always ready to listen or to lend a hand. He had many reasons not to be, but he was unfailingly modest. He was an amazing husband, father, Opa, mentor, and friend. A truly exceptional man whose example we should all try to emulate and to whom we are forever grateful for having had him in our lives.
We would like to say a special thank you to Dr. Susan Lea-Makenny as well as Dr. Meghan Elliott and the entire dialysis team at the Foothills Hospital. Everyone - the doctors, the pharmacists, the nurses, the care aids, and the cleaning staff – they were all exceptional. Klaus was always warmly greeted with a smile and the best of care.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the Silver Springs Golf Club on Sunday, May 15h from 2:00pm – 5:00pm.
Rapid tests are encouraged.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to your favorite charity.