Allen James Gasser
Dec 16, 1939 – Jan 9, 2024
Allen James Gasser died peacefully on January 9, 2024 at Saanich Peninsula Hospital after a short illness.
He is survived by his loving wife of almost 25 years, Alice Brock, his two beloved step-daughters, Danika (Jeff) and Genevieve (Matt), and his adored grandchildren, Scott, Juliet, Eleanor (Ellie), Mabel and Emily (Millie). He is also survived by his older brother David and his two sisters of the heart, Gail Morgan and Janine Ireland.
Allen was predeceased by his beloved ‘new’ brother Raymond Gaudart (Gasser) and their father Bartholome (Bert) Gasser, mother May Emma Scott and his beloved Scottish stepmother, Mary Cowie. Allen was always grateful to his older brother David for parenting him when their father couldn’t.
Allen was born in Winnipeg in 1939 and raised in Toronto. In 1960, he came out to Vancouver for a visit and stayed because the rain never had to be shovelled and the summers never drenched him with sweat.
In 1966, Allen was accepted into the Music Department at UBC. His instrument was cello or so he was told by the admitting professor who said they did not have any instructors for his auditioning instrument, the guitar. As it turned out, Allen majored in ethnomusicology where he learned to play a Japanese three-stringed instrument (Shamisen) well enough to perform with his supervising professor and Shakuhachi (Japanese flute) player, Dr. Elliott Weisgarber.
After earning his teaching certificate, Allen became an itinerant elementary band teacher in the Richmond School District. Within a few years, a principal at one of his schools noticed Allen’s teaching ability and recruited him to be a classroom teacher. Grade 5 became Allen’s favourite grade to teach.
In 1990, Allen returned to being an itinerant elementary band teacher which was a very good thing, because that’s how he met fellow elementary band teacher and future wife, Alice. Allen taught until 1998 when he retired to become, as he said, ‘Mr. Mom’ to Danika and Genevieve.
In 1997, Allen and Alice bought a house in South Surrey and were married in 1999. Allen came with his cat, Squeakers, and Alice came with her daughters, Danika and Genevieve. Allen thrived in the organized chaos of ballet classes, music lessons, band concerts, and general teenaged uproar.
In 2015, Allen and Alice moved to Saanichton on southern Vancouver Island to be closer to their grandchildren.
Allen enjoyed working with his hands. Throughout his life he sought to learn new things, such as building guitars, designing and building decks, building a cedar strip canoe, and teaching himself how to turn wood on a lathe. But even more than learning new things, he enjoyed learning and doing these things with his friends. When Allen wasn’t building, repairing, painting walls or making things with his friends, he was playing pool, something he enjoyed until his final days.
But truly, Allen’s greatest achievement was the way he loved his family and friends with kindness, openness, compassion and delight. Allen brought a unique sense of fun to everyday life that turned the mundane into an adventure. He loved without reservation and he lived with enthusiasm, curiosity, and humour, all qualities that made Allen a wonderful teacher, friend, husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.