This memorial website was created in memory of Rolf Mamen as a place we can come together to honour this vibrant and loving man. We invite you to share your thoughts and reflections below, or you can use the tabs above to read his obituary ("Life" tab), look through and contribute to pictures/videos or listen to his favourite music ("Gallery") or share a memorable story from your time with Rolf ("Stories"). 

Celebration of Life
A Celebration of Life was held on Saturday, July 17, 2021, and streamed online. A recording is available at this link
In lieu of flowers, please feel free to donate in his memory to the Parkinson Research Consortium at the Ottawa Hospital or to the Ottawa Humane Society, or simply enjoy a walk in the woods or near the water with him in your heart.
Posted by Jane Scribailo on July 3, 2022
I think of Rolf often and remember him with such fondness. Duncan Adams and I have on several occasions talked about what a great boss Rolf was and how much we enjoyed working with him. So sad that he is gone. A great loss and definitely missed. With heartfelt sympathy, Maggie. ♥️
Posted by Duncan Adams on July 3, 2022
Where does time go? A year has passed already since Rolf left us. However, those who respected and loved him remember him often. We remember Rolf for many things: his leadership, integrity, kind-heartedness, sense of humour and his smile, and his athletic prowess. One of my fondness memories was a great game of squash we played many years ago and Rolf’s competitive nature. This particular game is one of three that I so fondly remember. As a former colleague Ron has pointed out, good memories that we get to carry in our hearts.
Duncan A.  
Posted by Ron Buckingham on July 3, 2022
It's been a year. Just yesterday I mentioned Rolf's passing to my son Anthony who is visiting Ottawa from D.C. Rolf knew Anthony as a little boy. Although I worked with Rolf my favorite memories are the sports. He was a fine athlete. (I was not but I tried). Touch football in the RA league, soccer in the Industrial league, we ran around on the same fields together. Along with others who have also since left us. Jack Matsushita comes to mind. Good memories. We get to keep them.
- ron b.
Posted by Bruce Gordon Hatcher on July 26, 2021
Memories of my cousin Rolf Mamen:
The recent news of Rolf’s death by drowning was a shock because in my enduring memory he was invincible! I empathize with all of the amazing Mamen clan in your grief, and use this opportunity to collect my memories of this person who was so many things to all of you for so many years.

Rolf was born the year my parents married. He was my oldest male cousin (7 years my senior), his mother Mabel the elder sister of my father Gordon.
No doubt I "met" him during my infancy in Toronto, as my parents met skiing in the Laurentians and took a keen interest in all of Chris and Mable’s children. But I have no recollection of Rolf until I spent part of a summer vacation at the Mamen household in St. Anne de Bellevue during my tenth year. His parents were both working full time, and Rolf was responsible for organizing the male children to do the assigned household chores. He took this job seriously, and nobody wanted to mess with him, 'cause he was big, and had his father’s discipline. 

My cousin Gordie (namesake of his uncle Gordon) is my contemporary. Our mission that summer was to get those chores knocked off quickly so we could play "HiPat" (highway patrol) with our bicycles on the oval at nearby MacDonald College. Rolf, intensely engaged in fitnesses training as usual, was glad to have us out of his way when our jobs were done. Methinks he judged my fitness level to be below parr (I was a pudgy lad), and so devised an incentive scheme by which I could offload some of my share of the low energy chores on Gordie in return for a specified number of push-ups or, scarier: chin-ups on the ridiculously high bar Rolf had erected in the large back yard. Rolf had to lift me up to reach the bar, I dared not let go! I still remember his sternly encouraging voice in my ear as he lifted me up: "if you do five in a row, I’ll help you back down".

During the time my family lived in Dorval between 1965-67 I came to appreciate the Mamen’s log camp in Saint-Sauveur. It is where I learned to ski properly. While Gordie was my main ski companion, Rolf was the inspiration. I once entered the race from Montreal to Ottawa with a few friends. They were so impressed when we were passed by the elite race leaders (on their way back!) and Rolf recognized me, taking time to stop and talk with us. "You know that guy? Wow!". In retrospect, it was during those years I got to know Rolf better and recognized his focus and presence as a very "together" young man who engaged fully in everything he did. I particularly liked talking to him about automobiles and airplanes. Regardless of what he might have thought of me, he was always friendly and took time to talk and teach.

For the next thirty-odd years I was mostly out of the country, and doubt I saw Rolf more than twice, at family gatherings where only a brief conversation was possible. But my parents and big brother Peter kept me informed of his marriage and growing family. (I love perusing the photos enclosed in the album here because they give me insights of a life I was interested in but saw little of). 

Amongst those of many others, Rolf's academic and professional accomplishments spurred me in my studies and research, such that our next meeting was in a completely different context than all others. Circa 2000 I was a co-applicant on a Canadian Space Agency grant to develop remote sensors that could map life on the seafloor from satellites. The team traveled to Longueuil to finalize the agreement, and I mentioned to our liaison that, if he was available, I would like to meet with Rolf Mamen. Well, eyebrows were raised and the room went quiet: I was asked the purpose of of my request… At lunch, Rolf come over and sat with us. The conversation was technical, and he had insights. I could see him looking at me in a new light: he was pleased, which made me feel really good (I was just back from field work and not even very pudgy). Whatever Rolf did at the CSA, it sure commanded respect from his colleagues!

Life moved on. I once visited Rolf and Maggie at their home in Manotick with my little sister Eleanor (also a resident of that fine town). I celebrated Taryn’s wedding with him (and hundreds of others!). Rolf attended my father’s funeral and shared some humorous recollections of days I was too young to recall or absent overseas. No matter how long the separation, there is no mistaking cousin Rolf: I would recognize him anywhere, any time. He was a distinctive character!

In sum, I doubt that I spent more that 25 days in Rolf’s company during my 69 years. But that was enough to get the measure of the man: his life was well lived, and his legacy is immense. He lives on in the hearts and minds of his family and friends: we are the richer for knowing him...
Posted by Duncan Adams on July 20, 2021
The number of heartfelt tributes shared in the Guestbook and this collection of ‘forever missed memories’ by so many of Rolf’s acquaintances and coworkers are a testament of the quality of the man Rolf was and how he made a positive impression and impact on so many people’s lives. He was loved and appreciated for the manager, colleague, teacher, and friend that he was to so many. Rolf had a zest for life and lived it to full measure. I can think of no other person who partook in so many physical activities. Rolf made a positive and lasting contribution to the Canadian Space Program. He made those who worked for him and with him better managers, engineers and technologists. He always was there to support a colleague or subordinate when there was a need. He will certainly be missed by us all but he will never be forgotten. May your memories of the love and the life you shared, be of comfort to you in the years ahead. 
Posted by Laura Air on July 17, 2021
Dear Maggie, Natalie, Katy, Jorin and all the family,

My thoughts have been with you since hearing the sad news about Rolf, and Mum (Hilary) and I have been reminiscing so fondly about you all. 

I have such happy memories of two very special holidays in Canada, and the time I spent entranced by Rolf's stories of Donald and Snerdina - not until I had my own children did I realise what a skill it is to be able to make up stories off the cuff while being watched by several small pairs of eyes. Your Christmas letters were always keenly anticipated, and the tales of Rolf's heroic skiing feats and clapped-out car renovations were received with amazement. Most of all though, I will remember Rolf as a negotiator extraordinaire (the time spent waiting in the car while he haggled for a satisfactory price at a motel on the way to PEI a particular highlight) and as the "headless man of Saint-Sauveur" - a family photo of us by the lake improved dramatically by the bare torso and legs of a man in the background, which we know to be Rolf by the swimming trunks and which has become legendary in the album of 1981.

I'm so glad we were able to join you all for part of your holiday in England to celebrate Maggie's 70th birthday. In amongst the excitement and energy of so many young people, Rolf was calm and obviously quietly content, surrounded by his family. I so enjoyed chatting with him as we walked "the long way" to the pub and seeing him engage my son Charlie, then aged 5, in conversation about the wonders of space.

Sending you all much love, and thank you all for the memories xxx
Posted by Velma Bateman on July 17, 2021
Dearest Maggie, Natalie, Katy, Jorin, siblings of Rolf and Grandchildren.   Dennis and I are so very grateful to have been able to join the Celebration of Life today and to see the family members, hear the music and the wonderful tributes. I have known Rolf for over 50 years and loved him greatly (despite the occasional discussion about politics), and have enjoyed his company and corny jokes very much. Since Dennis and I have been together these past 26 years, the discussions generally turned to cars and carpentry and Maggie and I were often left to have a visit on our own. We will miss having him in our lives and can only hope and pray for Maggie, his children and grandchildren and all the members of the family as well and his friends, that you can find peace in your hearts, relish your memories and know that Rolf is at peace and safe.
with all our love, Velma and Dennis
Posted by Amy DuBreuil on July 17, 2021
Katy, Maggie and family,
I was deeply saddened to hear of Rolf's passing and my thoughts have been with you often since. Having spent time in the Mamen household over the last 30+ years there have been many meals, visits and evenings spent all together. On one such visit a new friend, who obviously knew of his professional standing admonished me for not addressing him as Doctor Mamen. He and I had a good giggle as he was always just Katy's dad. It wasn't until reading his obit did I fully understand his professional role. When he was at home, he was katy's chauffeur, cheerleader, motivator, co-conspirator and nature guide. I can remember equal parts of honour and terror at being invited on a family bike ride. A 50km ride was a quick ride for them, but not so in my family! I never dared to join them for a ski.

During high school I can remember Katy and Nat fighting over who's turn it was to buy a quart of oil for the Cabrio unlike other siblings that might have worried about gas. I am not convinced that Katy, Nat and Jorin ever believed me that covering your nose with your top lip was not how you plugged your nose while swimming. That is what Rolf had taught them and they were sure he would never steer them wrong! He listened in to my explanation with that grin and twinkle in his eye.

Rolf has watched me grow up alongside Katy. The sparkle in his eye never wavered and he was always eager to hear of my career and family news. His positive outlook upon his diagnosis and each new challenge was inspiring and a reminder to focus on the positive. His unwavering support of his family and love and devotion to Maggie have always been an example for me to strive towards. Shortly after getting married I asked him what the success of such a long marriage was and he told me to ask Maggie as he had the easy part.  I will never achieve Mamen athleticism but his infectious love of the outdoors is something I have tried to share with my family. I have always felt so welcome in the Mamen household and will feel his absence with each visit in the future but know his spirit will be present and memories/stories will keep his memory alive and all of us giggling.

Hugs and love to all of you Maggie, Katy, Natalie, Join and your families.
Posted by Shauna Haight on July 17, 2021
Dear Maggie and family, What a wonderful celebration of life for an amazing person. It was so lovely to hear how dear Rolf is to everyone! Such a beautiful family where his influence is strongly felt. How lucky all of you are to have had this amazing person in your lives. Thank you for allowing me to meet this beautiful man. Shauna
Posted by Kelly Armstrong on July 17, 2021
Dear Maggie and All the Mamen Family,

Bob and I were so sad to learn of Rolf’s passing. We did not know him well, but every interaction we had with him put a smile on our faces. He was someone who exuded kindness, good-humour, and a special zest for life. We have marvelled at his refusal to let Parkinson’s dictate his life or dampen his good humour and are inspired by his bravery. He will be missed greatly in our little neighbourhood.

Our thoughts are with you, Maggie, and all your family at this sad time.

Bob Jaques and Kelly Armstrong
Posted by Juliette Butler on July 17, 2021
Dear Mamen Family,

Rolf was such a wonderful man. He will be truly missed. Our thoughts are with you during this time.

Neil, Juliette, Abi, and Sadie
Posted by shabeer ahmed on July 17, 2021
Dear Maggie,
We share with your family the feeling of sadness in Rolf's passing.  We will always remember our good fortune to have had him as an esteemed colleague in the space program and as a friend. 
Shabeer and Joan
Posted by Judith Beaulieu on July 17, 2021
Dear Maggie,Natalie,Colin,Hayden,

Our deepest condolences to your entire family. Our hearts, thoughts and love are with you.
Judith, Alexandre, Thierry and Pénélope
Posted by Sandra Smith on July 16, 2021
Raymond and I have Rolf’s family in our thoughts. Although we met Rolf only a few times, we were always impressed with his strength of character and his passion for maintaining his physical strength.

Posted by Brian Chapman on July 16, 2021
As Maggie’s younger cousin, I just about remember her heading off to Canada in 1971. Over the years we have become very close and I have got to know Rolf largely through Maggie.

Rolf was always an energetic and intelligent man who clearly lived for his family. In more recent times, we have had brief chats with Rolf on Zoom calls with Maggie and he always, to quote Monty Python, looked on the bright side of life, even when dealing with the many challenges life threw at him.

He will leave a huge hole in the lives of Maggie, Nat, Katy, Jorin, his grandchildren and his siblings. But we can all be sure that he lived a good life, to the full, and that’s as much as we can all hope for really.

Our deep condolences and thoughts to you all

Brian, Mary, Eleanor, Grace and Katherine xxxxx
Posted by Rosemary McDonald on July 15, 2021
Dear Maggie and family,
We were saddened to learn of Rolf’s death. Although our association was limited and mostly long ago, there are nothing but respected memories, even back to prenatal classes!
So very sorry for your loss.
Rosemary McDonald (Jorin and Kirsten)
Carp, On
Posted by Meg Waurick on July 15, 2021
Dear Maggie and family,
Our deepest condolences for this very sad loss. Rolf was a wonderful person who made a positive impression on anyone that met him. Jim and I had the great privilege of being introduced to cross country skiing by Rolf. His passion for outdoor activity and adventure was admirable and contagious but very difficult to match. I remember his ingenuity for creating face coverings so that he could brave temperatures well below what a nose should be exposed to. Rolf took very good care of us at the Centrepointe office whenever necessary repairs or maintenance was required. Whenever there was an issue, he would arrive without commotion, quietly say a humorous one liner or comment that would deliver a smile on my face, and he would fix whatever the problem was. Rolf showed genuine kindness and warmly welcomed anyone that showed up at his house.
Remarkable people always leave an emptiness when they pass because of the impression they have made on others. Rolf will be no exception and will be greatly missed. (Meg Waurick and Jim Randall)
Posted by Victor Wehrle on July 15, 2021
Dear Maggie and family,

Please accept the sincere condolences of Marlene and myself at the passing of Rolf.

Rolf and I joined the Space Mechanics Directorate at CRC/Shirley Bay at almost the same time in the early 70's. Some of my favourite memories date to those early years when 6 or 8 of us would go for coffee or lunch together. Discussions ranged from space technology to politics to whatever, and Rolf always gave forth with his very bright mind and fine sense of humour.

Even in his and my retirement years, we served together as "lead engineers" mentoring to the 4th year spacecraft design class at Carleton University.

A wonderful man and dear friend with whom I look forward to sharing (who knows?) another beer in the heavenly pub!
Posted by Gordon Henderson on July 15, 2021
Dearest Nat, Katy, Jorin and Maggie,

I'm so sorry for your loss; Rolf was an amazing man who left a deep impression on me, and whom I looked up to with tremendous respect, admiration and love.

Rolf provided an object lesson in how to wring the last possible drop out of everything that life had to offer. And although his academic and professional accomplishments were of the highest order, the qualities that really defined Rolf in my mind were his passion for the outdoors, and his love for his family.

I feel tremendously blessed to have spent time with Rolf in both of those contexts, and my memories of him in Gatineau and St. Sauveur ("What I did to you out there was really unforgivable, so you're just going to have to forgive me... here, have a drink!") will stay with me forever.

My thoughts are with the whole extended Mamen family at such a difficult time, and I hope the wonderful memories you have of such a splendid guy will help ease the loss of an important figure in all your lives.

With all my love,

Posted by Ron Buckingham on July 14, 2021
Maggie and family,
I'm so sorry to learn that Rolf has passed and offer my condolence. Although I had not seen him recently we shared many good memories from earlier days of touch football to broomball. And of course from work. Rolf was such a fine athlete. And a very important part of our "space community". And above all a very fine person.
Posted by Rob Moffat on July 14, 2021
Maggie and family,
Janie and I are very saddened by your loss. We had too few visits with Rolf at the lake. We will always think of him when we paddle by your retreat, or walk the trails in your vicinity. Please accept our deepest condolences.
Posted by Kali Hutton on July 13, 2021
Maggie, Nat, Colin, Hayden, and family,

We are so incredibly sorry for your loss. We’ve heard great stories of your Dad and know he was one of a kind. We didn’t have to know him to know how much he loved his family - we can see that reflected in each of you. His love and support will be forever entwined in the roots of your own family.

Please know that we are here for you and happy to hear any memories you wish to share of your Dad. In the meantime, we’re thinking of you all and sending you our warmest hugs. Xxoo

With our deepest sympathy,

Kali, Rob, Greydon (& Finley, too)
Posted by Shanna Cling on July 13, 2021
Dear Martha, Jorin, Anja and family,

Our hearts are with you as you mourn this tremendous loss. Thinking of you and sending you all tons of love. We’re here for you.


Shanna, Spencer, Nate and Hazel
Posted by Mac Evans on July 13, 2021
Rolf was one of the best - a star that shone brighter than most in the Canadian Space Program. I always enjoyed working with Rolf - I loved his sense of humour and his dedication to his work. I could always count on his technical and managerial knowhow to solve any issues that arose. Through his foresight and perseverance he made the DFL a world class space test facility. The Canadian Space Program would not be the same without his outstanding efforts. I count myself very fortunate to have had Rolf as a friend and colleague. I and the countless other people who depended upon Rolf have lost a very special person. He will be missed.

With my deepest sympathies
Posted by Jill Davies on July 13, 2021
My deepest condolences to the entire Mamen family. I will never forget Rolf’s speech at Nat and Colin’s wedding and how much obvious pride and love he had for his family. Sending you all warm thoughts and comforting hugs.
Posted by Colin Franklin on July 12, 2021
Dear Maggie

Sincerest sympathy to you and your family in the tragic death of Rolf.
So untimely and a great loss to all who knew and worked with him on the Canadian space program. I especially remember him for the many interesting talks we had and how he always looked so remarkably fit and well.

Thinking of you at this difficult time

Colin Franklin
Posted by Lise Taylor on July 12, 2021
Dear Dr Mamen, Natalie, Katy, Jorin and family

My heartfelt condolences at the loss of your husband, father and grandfather.

As Nat’s friend, I have childhood memories of Mr Mamen:

Energetic - I participated in some Mamen family ski trips which were not for the faint of heart! I have vivid memories of Mr Mamen encouraging us to go “just a bit farther”!

Handy - I frequently showed up at the Mamen house to be greeted first by Mr Mamen who was tinkering with the Volvo “tank”. That thing ran forever.

Incredibly kind - one winter I decided I wanted to ski at Nakkertok and Mr Mamen drove me every weekend. To be clear, Nat wasn’t part of this although I remember Katy was sometimes with us. Reflecting as an adult, I realize that by picking me up in Manotick he increased his driving time by 40 min, almost doubling the time. I was going through a lot personally that I couldn’t articulate and his kindness at that time meant a lot.

With love and deepest sympathy,
Posted by Audrey G on July 11, 2021
As Maggie's sister I first met Rolf in London, UK in the late '60s when he was studying at Imperial College. From the moment that he and Mags had their first date the next 50+ years of the most wonderful, loving partnership were set. I well remember Rolf's little grey van, which was pretty much on its last wheels but which transported Rolf and Mags on various adventures around Europe.

It was incredibly sad to see Mags leave England but so heartwarmingly good to know that she was setting up a new home in a new land with such a kind, steady, life-loving (and eye-wateringly handsome!) guy. And what a dynasty they have created - three amazing children and five beautiful grandchildren. My heart goes out to each and every one of you for your devastating loss.

With all my love, Aud x
Posted by Laurie Prince on July 11, 2021
The first time I met Rolf was at Colin’s house. I was impressed with how friendly he was and pleasant. I also love the way he was so comfortable with Charlie who was, I think, about 2. He managed to hold both his hands and feet and swing him up his shoulders. Charlie loved it. (As did we)

I was always impressed with the activities he did… his skiing, bike riding and swimming. I remember at Colin and Nat’s wedding he and his friends riding along the Port Cunnington Rd sailing past us while we were walking. He was joyous.

Every time I had time to spend with Rolf and Maggie was always great. We saw each other at the cottage on LOB or in Ottawa. (and sometimes Toronto)

My condolences and love go to Maggie, Nat, Jorin and Katie. Laurie xo
Posted by Renata Brillinger on July 11, 2021
Thank you for sharing a little bit about Rolf and the journey you are on as a family celebrating his life and your love. The thing I noticed about him every time we met was his curiosity and the warm attention he paid to everyone in his path. The stories of his physical adventures are legend! Maggie, I am thinking about you in particular because I know how much love you and Rolf shared, and how fiercely you cared for him especially in these past few years. I won't be able to join the memorial but I am so glad you are together.
Posted by Bonnie Wolpert on July 10, 2021
Dear Katy, Maggie, Adam, Sabine and Family,
We are so very sorry about the loss of Rolf. His kindness and love will last forever. May your wonderful memories of him bring comfort to your grieving hearts. Our thoughts, love and prayers are with all of you.
With our love and deepest sympathy,
Bonnie and Stuart
Posted by Deborah Ostrovsky on July 10, 2021
Dear Jorin, Martha, Anja, Mila, Dr. Mamen, and the whole Mamen family,
We are thinking of you all and we send our love and our deepest condolences. We are so sorry for the loss of such a loving father, husband, and grandpa.
Rémi, Deborah, and Zoé
Posted by Lisa Vallati on July 9, 2021
Maggie & family

I am so sorry for your loss. I can truly say i have never met or seen a more determined individual in my life. He truly was a remarkable individual. His presence on our street will be deeply missed. That bright smile and positive energy we saw every time he walked down the street has left a void in our lives. Our kids will never foget how you both opened your home & pool to them during the summer to swim with you both.  RIP dear neighbor❤ love from the Vallati family.
Posted by margaret robitaille on July 9, 2021
Dear Dr. Maggie Mamen and family
Rolf Mamen was obviously a brilliant and accomplished gentleman and an equally impressive, cherished father and husband.
We pray that despite your sadness and pain you will derive strength from wonderful memories and knowing this was a life « well lived and lived to the fullest ».
You and family will be in our hearts and prayers.
Ann and Margaret
Posted by Rajani Vairavanathan on July 9, 2021
Dear Natalie and Family,
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I've also heard great stories about your dad from you and I know he will be greatly missed by your family. He was deeply loved and cared for by you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Feel free to touch base anytime to chat. Tell your dad to say "hi" to my dad when he is in heaven.
Posted by Nicole Marchand on July 9, 2021
My thoughts and prayers are with you all, during this difficult time. Rolf was a good man who always fought hard and long for what and who he believed in. His fighting spirit was only surpassed by his love for his family. He will never be forgotten. 
Posted by Jen Hewitt on July 9, 2021
Beautiful memories of a beautiful life lived. Maggie, Natalie, Colin and Hayden, we are so sorry for your loss and you are all in our thoughts and prayers, xo Jen, Rob, Pippa and Bowie

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Jane Scribailo on July 3, 2022
I think of Rolf often and remember him with such fondness. Duncan Adams and I have on several occasions talked about what a great boss Rolf was and how much we enjoyed working with him. So sad that he is gone. A great loss and definitely missed. With heartfelt sympathy, Maggie. ♥️
Posted by Duncan Adams on July 3, 2022
Where does time go? A year has passed already since Rolf left us. However, those who respected and loved him remember him often. We remember Rolf for many things: his leadership, integrity, kind-heartedness, sense of humour and his smile, and his athletic prowess. One of my fondness memories was a great game of squash we played many years ago and Rolf’s competitive nature. This particular game is one of three that I so fondly remember. As a former colleague Ron has pointed out, good memories that we get to carry in our hearts.
Duncan A.  
Posted by Ron Buckingham on July 3, 2022
It's been a year. Just yesterday I mentioned Rolf's passing to my son Anthony who is visiting Ottawa from D.C. Rolf knew Anthony as a little boy. Although I worked with Rolf my favorite memories are the sports. He was a fine athlete. (I was not but I tried). Touch football in the RA league, soccer in the Industrial league, we ran around on the same fields together. Along with others who have also since left us. Jack Matsushita comes to mind. Good memories. We get to keep them.
- ron b.
his Life

Rolf Mamen

January 31, 1945 - July 3, 2021
It is with profound heartache that Rolf’s family shares the news of his sudden passing on Saturday, July 3, at his beloved cottage. Deeply loving husband, adventurer and rock for Maggie for almost 50 years, he was the number one fan of and inspiration for his three children, Natalie (Colin Butler), Katy (Adam Wolpert) and Jorin (Martha Temple), and dear ear-nibbling story-telling Gramps for Sabine, Hayden, Anja, and Mila. 
He was born in Sudbury, Ontario, to Chris and Mabel (Hatcher) Mamen as the second of their six children, and moved from mining camp to mining camp until settling in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue where he attended Macdonald High School. At age 16, he started at McGill University in Engineering Physics where he met some lifelong friends, and subsequently became an Athlone Scholar at Imperial College of Science and Technology in London where he earned his PhD. It was here that he met Maggie and the rest is history. She followed him to Canada in 1971, they married in 1972, and settled in Ottawa where they have lived in the same house since 1973. He encouraged, supported and cheered for Maggie throughout her university studies and was a hands-on dad from the start, developing wonderfully close relationships with all three children. Rolf went on eventually to become Director General of Space Operations for the Canadian Space Agency, although he never quite mastered laptops or smart phones!  He was an elite cross-country skier with multiple gold bars in the Canadian Ski Marathon, avid cyclist, touch football and soccer player, kayaker, canoeist, and lover of anything outdoors until the relentlessness of Parkinson’s Disease took these activities away from him one by one. Get-togethers at the Mamen homestead in St-Sauveur, especially at Christmas, were always a highlight for him, and he cherished these times with extended family.
In addition to Maggie and their children, in-laws and grandchildren, Rolf is survived by his sisters Anitra (Doug Engh) and Julie (Tim Lawson), his brothers Gordon (Diane Conroy) and Lauritz, and a multitude of nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews, along with his sister-in-law Audrey, a circle of amazing friends, and his dog Ollie. He was predeceased by his sister Marta (Frans Blom) and infant grandson Noah.
Rolf will be remembered for his zest for life, the twinkle in his eyes, his eternal optimism, for not having the word “can’t” in his vocabulary, his loyalty, his MacGyver talent for fixing everything, his dogged determination and work ethic, but most of all his courage and stoicism when life became so difficult. 
Thanks to our Lac McFee family for all the help, support, and kindness on July 3 - you are the best.  Thanks also to Julie for her TLC and the trips to St-Sauveur over the past months - he so enjoyed them. 
Rolf, you were our sunshine. We shall all miss you terribly.
Recent stories

Tool Man

Shared by Diane Mamen on July 22, 2021
I felt a connection to Rolf right from the start.  Looking SO much like Gordon, how could I not feel endeared to him?  It was when we moved to Chelsea that my admiration and adoration really took hold. Rolf took every opportunity to have our family join his for cycling, skiing, hiking or anything outdoors, usually followed with a grand feast. Rolf was eager and energetic to test our mettle on the Gatineau Hills ski trails, play tour guide along the bike paths of Ottawa and Gatineau or cheer from the sidelines as one or more of our kids finished a face. 

My love for fixing, renovating and building things became a bonding topic between us.  He never missed a chance to ask what I was working on, what I was going to do next, how I was going to do it and more importantly, did Gordon know what I was doing? Way back in about 2005, I decided to remove some kitchen cabinets and install pot lights in their place. Not having done lighting before, I read the instructions and learned I was going to need to put in a junction box. Before Google or YouTube, I had Rolf. He walked me through (by telephone) the process of installing a junction box, feeding the wires and finally, the pot light installation. He was just as proud of the lights as I was!!

On my next birthday, Rolf gave me a tool belt. On many occasions after, whether Christmas or birthday, Rolf added to my tool collection. Screwdriver set, voltmeter, laser level, stud finder. My brother in law GOT ME!!  I like to think I helped fulfill his need to buy tools. I know he helped me on my journey fulfilling my love for all things “that need fixing”.

I will miss his inquiring mind, his rapt attention to my fix-it stories and his endless knowledge of how-to-do-anything.  I will cherish my tools all the more and with each use, thank the guy who GOT ME!

Reminiscences of Rolf

Shared by John Lawson on July 18, 2021
“Can you come out to play?”, Rolf would call, laughing over the phone, to get me out for a ski or a bike, or latterly a short hike.I met Rolf at Nakkertok Ski Club, and through the 1990s and 2010s joined him recreational skiing in the Gatineau Park as well as the Ski Club.Most memorably, we skied together for many years in the Canadian Ski Marathon.Led by Rolf, a variable quartet of us skied in the 4-man “Veteran” team competition, usually with Dave Mallory, and in various years co-opted David Garcia, Jim Bradford, Wayne Johannsen, and one or two others.I don’t have all the Ski Marathon records to hand, but the medals hanging on my basement wall remind me that we won at least 5 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze in various years of the competition.Rolf was the natural skipper of the team, seemingly borne on skis up there in the Laurentians where the Marathon is run.Mere mortals like me, relying on brute fitness to climb the hills and surviving the downhills with white knuckles and multiple bruises, could only marvel at Rolf floating across the snow and dancing down the hills, or wince as he sometimes sat on his poles on the steepest.Techniques that required a lifetime of practice, and maybe a genetic disposition: the Mamen men I’ve skied with all seem to reflect their Norwegian heritage, and Rolf told me his father was a remarkable skier, still liberated on skis in his later years when he’d otherwise become frail.

I also learned during my years of friendship with Rolf the amazing story of his great uncle, Bjorne Mamen, a member of the scientific team of the Karluk expedition of 2013-16 to the Canadian Arctic, and a young Norwegian ski champion. Stranded in the ice north of Alaska, with the ship breaking up, crew members were taught by Mamen to use skis which aided their trek over the ice 130km to Wrangel Island.There unfortunately half the crew perished, including the intrepid young Bjorne Mamen, while the survivors were rescued following a 300-km trip to over the ice by the Karluk’s Captain, Bob Bartlett accompanied by an Inuit hunter who had joined the expedition, then a crossing by sea from Kamchatka Peninsula back to Alaska to organise the rescue ship.I can’t help thinking that Bjorne Mamen showed the same optimism, dazzling athleticism and determination that we knew in Rolf.I used to suggest, half-seriously, to Rolf, that we should arrange our own expedition up to Wrangel Island to view his great-uncle’s grave and get some experience of the harsh conditions faced by the Expedition.

In retrospect, most of the time I spent chatting with Rolf was on skis, just by nature of the long treks in the Gatineau Park or on the Marathon.But we also had some memorable bike rides, where we swapped reminiscences, news of our families or the odd word about work – we didn’t talk more than superficially about work, but I was always impressed and intrigued about his work as a senior manager of the Space Agency, and some of his experiences on exotic trips to the Arctic or Russia, for example.More prosaically, I had to endure Rolf’s complaints about the miseries of travelling by train down to Saint-Hubert, while he kept up a running joke about my being as a Transport Canada employee somehow personally responsible for the performance of VIA Rail.

On the bike rides, Rolf showed me lots I hadn’t known about the region, up and down the Rideau River, way out west of the City, and along the eastern shore from Gatineau.

For one so active and accomplished, these last few years were clearly very tough for Rolf.His increasing inflexibility from the Parkinson’s disease meant his skiing and biking had to be slower and the outings shorter. But he was determined not to succumb gently, and optimistically pushed those limitations in our expeditions.We also substituted convivial meetings with friends over coffee for more vigorous outings.After his dreadful fall last year he was even more limited, but embraced the rehabilitation, and we settled for more limited hikes close to the house, latterly with his walker/wheelchair.But, as ever, he drove himself to weave through undergrowth to show me hidden views along the Rideau River.

The news of Rolf’s tragic drowning came as a terrible shock.I can only imagine how momentously sad it has been for Maggie, their children and grandchildren, and for Rolf’s sisters and brothers and their families, who were all close to him and dear to him.Rolf was a wonderful companion to his friends, as a model of cheerfulness, optimism and determination – in the photos I have of Rolf he was always smiling. And in these days of informality and increasing coarseness in language and behaviour Rolf also offered an antidote of politeness and civility.I am still reeling from the shock, but I am very proud and humbled to have been among his friends.

stories of snow and fire

Shared by Drummond Lawson on July 17, 2021
Rolf was a role model to many people. Some of my first memories of him involve leading wintertime outings for a crew of kids and cousins, skiing up the hill in Saint Sauveur and across Lac Beauchamp. Our goal was to gather wood to build a fire and roast hot dogs. This is ambitious on several levels but Rolf got us all there, lit the frozen wood, built the fire, and made our lunch, and we returned home happy from a great adventure.

Rolf embodied that spirit of adventure. I remember him enthusiastically rallying groups around the local ski trails and up the hiking path to loup garou. I also remember the sense of welcome that he extended to others. When I was 14 or 15 I fell in love with cross country ski racing and I felt like it opened up the whole world for me. Each year I would make several trips up to Ottawa to do the local races or train with his Nakkertok crew. Rolf and Maggie always welcomed and encouraged my visits. Rolf was a strong and passionate skier, a trait he passed on from his father. On one of those trips I remember Rolf begrudgingly accepting that for the first time, at age 50 or 55, he had lost the unsanctioned (and ill-advised) Nakkertok race down Penguin hill in the Gatineau.

Rolf's encouragement was also playful. When I first decided I wanted to ski the length of the famous Canadian Ski Marathon Rolf told me that if I finished he would eat his toque. My father and I stayed at their house the night before, got some waxing tips and set off on the ski. A couple days I got a phone call of congratulations saying how bad his toque had tasted.

Rolf reflected a wonderful spirit of adventure and of appreciation. I'll miss him and his place in the family, but this spirit will live on.