Maywell Wickheim

Maywell was born April 2, 1925, in Saseenos to Michael and Karen Wickheim and died ½ mile from his birthplace on July 17, 2015 with his loved ones at his side. He was predeceased by his wife Betty, sister Nan, brother Ardy and son-in-law John. He is survived by daughters Liz Koolman, Marg Herrling (Mike) Allan Wickheim (Laura) and grandchildren, Melissa Szoo ( Darren), Tori Wickheim (Brenda) , Kristi Hansen(Carsten), Julie Brooks (Ben), Emma Herrling (Kris), Jake and Katie Koolman, Vaile, Bren and Avan Wickheim and great grandchildren, Cecilia Hansen, Oriana and Ollie Brooks, Dominic Szoo and Isaac Wickheim. He is also survived by sisters Elida Peers and Lil Leet and brother Jubiel Wickheim (Mavis) and nieces and nephews.

Maywell left school in grade six to help on the family farm and work for neighbours to help support the family. His strong work ethic began in his youth, and was maintained throughout his life. He read several daily newspapers and encyclopaedias in his younger days, and his knowledge of the world, space and historical events was extensive. Although he didn’t have much in the way of a formal education he was able to master a broad range of subjects from engineering and marine technology to philosophy, botany and ecology. 

Maywell worked as a contractor most of his life. He spent time in shipyards in Seattle which provided the interest and experience to create Sooke Marine Industries which, for over 40 years, served fishing vessels and pleasure craft as well as many industrial and dock projects in the Sooke Harbour. He designed and built several homes, bridges and cabins incorporating innovative, practical and efficient features.

Logging was also a large part of his work. He established logging camps at Pipestem Inlet and Pye Lake in the 1950s and 60s. Logging sports involvement included birling, axe throwing and cross cut saw championships at All Sooke Day and other locations.

Maywell was always interested in sharing his knowledge and encouraging others, particularly young people, to be involved in physical activity. To this end he purchased and donated gymnastic equipment for the local school where he supervised Wednesday night gym sessions. At the home he and Betty built at the Esquimalt Lagoon, as well as installing a double trapeze over the large swimming pool, he set up a tightrope, and more gym equipment which was in constant use by neighbourhood youth and groups from special needs homes for many years.

Spelunking was another activity he enjoyed, helping find, survey and conserve numerous caves across the Island, particularly in the Horne Lake and Pipestem Inlet areas and even as far away as Idaho.

The outdoors was Maywell’s passion – living, working and showing others the marvels of Sooke and surrounding area. He co-founded the Kludahk Outdoors Club and for 25 years hundreds of people have enjoyed hiking the trails in summer, viewing the unique alpine lilies and skiing in winter. He supplied canoes for the lakes in the meadows and designed and helped build the numerous cabins.

A deep respect for nature lead to quests for large and unusual trees including the Cheewhat Cedar which he found in 1988 and conducted many treks to.

He contributed behind the scenes to many endeavors locally, including the Sooke Region Museum and Sun River Community Garden, and was a thoughtful and knowledgeable source of history and information about many aspects of the Sooke area. He always found unique methods of doing things which often caused raised eyebrows and some doubts but generally proved to be a better and more sustaining way of dealing with the situation. If you had a problem or a dilemma, he was always there to help and work out a solution.

 His approach to any problem was to discard the obvious and re-define the problem and its resolution in a unique and innovative way, often with multiple benefits rather than just a problem solved. The phrase, “Maywell will know…” will echo in the Sooke community and hills for years to come. 

His theme in life was to make things better for all and he gave selflessly to that end. Next time you sit on one of those beautiful cedar log bus-stop benches around Sooke, smile and know Maywell had your comfort in mind, just making things better.

Many thanks to Dr. Anton Rabien for his committed care and support of Maywell over the past few months.

There will be no service at his request.

Flowers gratefully declined.