A funeral was held today on Mount Pleasant for my poet-cousin/friend Sam W. Reimer. He will not be forgotten…
Samuel Wayne Reimer was born in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada on 26 May, 1949, the second son of John K. Reimer and Leona Ruth Reimer. Raised on “the Bible, hymns, porridge, borscht, home-baked bread, and prayer,” he discovered Shakespeare around the age of eight by means of a copy of Hamlet found in his grandmother’s basement. As he put it, “this confirmed my life-long passion for ‘the Word Over All,’ as the Beatles (John Lennon in particular) would do again a half dozen years later.”
In 1964 his family moved to Meade, Kansas, where Sam lived until 1968—“just long enough to be eligible for the Vietnam War and the draft”— an entitlement that caused him to “skip back home” to Winnipeg. Sundry jobs held him in Manitoba for a year or two (Winnipeg Supply & Fuel Company, & Canada Dry offices, etc.) before the happening zeitgeist of “tuning in, turning on, dropping out” swept him west to the BC coast (en route to San Francisco). In Vancouver, a ‘Jesus Rediscovered’ experience and a sojourn with Dave Milton at The House of Daniel would deeply influence his life-course.
Sam married Elizabeth St. John in 1970, a union that would bear a daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Dylan. A stint of writing for Maranatha Free Press in Vancouver predated a 1976 move with kids in tow to Mission, BC, then to the mountainous country of Robson Valley, with spells of work as railway section-crew and in a plywood-veneer plant. A short-lived teaching role in creative writing followed, via Fraser Valley College’s Community Education program— two complete semesters with students aged 18–80! Then it was back to the urban setting of Vancouver, a separation in 1981, and a divorce in 1984.
Since 1987, Sam lived on his own in the Ivanhoe Apartments in Vancouver, where he penned literally thousands of poems. In 2008, a collection of 200 of his works was published in the book Gray Matter Graffitti.
Sam passed away peacefully at Vancouver General Hospital in the early hours of 26 April, 2013, with family members by his side. He is survived by his daughter Jennifer (Kaleeg) Hainsworth; son Dylan (Tonya) Reimer; granddaughters Ella, Huelwen, and Bridget Hainsworth; father John K. Reimer; brothers David (Katy) Reimer and Rod (Deborah) Reimer; sisters Lucille (Jim) Pfeifer and Arvella (Mike) Lucas. Sam was predeceased by his mother Leona Reimer.