October 24, 1951 – April 12, 2019
Paul Frederick Sapergia was born October 24, 1951 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, to loving parents Alexander (Alec) and Jean (nee McIntyre) Sapergia. He grew up on the family’s cattle ranch southwest of Moose Jaw with three older siblings, Doris, Vernon, and Sandra. Paul contracted polio just three months before his second birthday during the epidemic of 1953. After this he spent about a third of his childhood in the hospital undergoing well over a dozen surgeries on his leg, an experience that would profoundly shape the rest of his life.
However, surrounded by a supportive and tight-knit family, Paul still enjoyed many aspects of growing up on the ranch, learning to ride horses and work with the cattle. The family was also very musical, providing a perfect environment for a budding musician. Paul had an exceptional ear and quickly taught himself to play every instrument he could get his hands on, especially enjoying the guitar.
As a young adult, Paul joined his father as a partner on the ranch. In his mid-twenties he struck out on a big adventure that would change his life forever, moving to Los Angeles, California in 1977. There, he met a nurse from Germany, Elfriede Frenzel, and they married in LA in August 1978. Not long after returning to Moose Jaw, the young couple decided to buy a small farm near Fleet, Alberta. Soon they were joined by their two daughters, Sophie and Sarah.
Paul became an active contributor to the Castor and Fleet communities, especially through creative pursuits. He participated in Castor Little Theatre and Castor Winterfest variety shows for many years both as a performer and behind the scenes. He taught himself to read music later in life so he could play trumpet in the Castor Band. He also enjoyed writing and performing his own songs. He learned to tune pianos and kept many of the pianos in the region sounding their best.
He also explored his talents as a visual artist, becoming an accomplished bronze sculptor and woodcarver. He enjoyed western and nature motifs and showed his works in a number of galleries and venues such as the Calgary Stampede and Spruce Meadows.
Rooted in his childhood experiences, Paul was also motivated to explore alternative health practices, completing a diploma in homeopathy. He was able to help many members of the community with this training.
In recent years, Paul very much enjoyed the company of friends, especially playing cards and music together. He was a dedicated volunteer musician at local long-term care centres and seniors’ lodges. He also recorded the Sapergia family’s experiences as Romanian immigrants in rural Saskatchewan in his book, The Wealth of the Double Triangle, the title referring to the cattle brand of the Sapergia ranch. He enjoyed spending time outdoors in his canoe.
Paul developed an aggressive form of leukaemia in spring of this year. After being admitted to the Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital in Castor, he was transferred to the hematology unit of the Peter Lougheed Centre in Calgary. He passed away there on April 12, 2019.
Paul is lovingly remembered by his wife and daughters as an exceptionally devoted husband and father. Paul and Elfriede celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on August 21, 2018. When asked before he passed what he was most proud of in his life, he said, “Being a good dad. That’s the most important.”
Paul is mourned by wife Elfriede; daughters Sophie (Alberto) and Sarah; siblings Doris (Ray), Vernon (Sandra Stagl) and Sandra Wiebe (Harold); and a large extended family from the Sapergia and McIntyre clans. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.
A Celebration of Life was held on April 18, 2019 at the Fleet Hall. Rita Prince, a close friend of Elfriede and Paul, led the service. Another dear friend of Paul, musician Jaron Rovensky, performed “Bobby McGee”, “The Tennessee Walz”, and “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”. Eulogies were by daughters Sophie and Sarah.
The family are extremely grateful to the staff and physicians of both the Peter Lougheed Centre hematology unit and Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital. Paul received outstanding care in both locations.
A special thank you to Paul’s close friend Rod Willis and wife Dorothy for their support with organizing the Celebration of Life.
Thank you also to members of the Castor and Fleet communities for your many kind words and prayers over the past weeks, as well as to those who attended the Celebration of Life, made charitable donations, brought food and sent beautiful cards and flowers.
Donations in memory of Paul may be made to the Our Lady of the Rosary Hospital Foundation – specify Long-term Care. Address: Box 329, Castor AB, T0C 0X0.