The funeral for an 85-year-old man who was killed while en route to visit his wife in a care home will be held on April 13.
Jimmy Gonczol, fondly known as ‘Papa Jimmy’ was walking along 228th Street on Feb. 12 when he was hit by a van and killed.
He was on his way to the New Westminster care home where his wife, Tula, lived ever since suffering a stroke 14 years prior, followed by a dementia diagnosis.
Gonczol had made the journey every day, rain or shine, for 12 years.
“He was determined to be there – I think the word is ‘driven.’” said Dave Forstved about his late stepfather shortly after the accident.
“He was driven to be there every day,” he said.
At first, he was able to drive. But failing eyesight made him surrender his driver’s licence about six years ago. So he would trek up 228th St., walking about a kilometre to Haney Place bus loop.
Lately, he needed a cane or walker, to steady himself.
On a good day, the trip to New West would take him about 90 minutes to two hours each way.
In the past two years, Papa Jimmy took a HandyDART – a door-to-door service provided by TransLink – on weekdays. But it wasn’t available that day because of the weather.
So, due to snow on the sidewalks following one of the worst storms of the year, Gonczol was walking in the vehicle lane of 228th Street when he was hit just before he reached Dewdney Trunk Road.
Witnesses told police it was a slow-speed collision and the Ridge Meadows RCMP said speed and alcohol were ruled out factors.
A funeral service for Jimmy Gonczol will take place at 11 a.m. on Apr. 13 at High Way Church, 21746 Lougheed Highway in Maple Ridge, with a reception to follow the service.
A graveside service will take place the same day at 2:30 p.m at Forest Lawn Cemetery at 3789 Royal Oak Ave. in Burnaby.
For any additional information contact Lorena Littke, funeral director at Henderson’s Fraser Valley Funeral Home at 604-854-5534.