his Life


Walter Janzen was a loving husband, father and friend. Born in Vancouver, June 16 1955 to Russian immigrants Henry Janzen and Katharina Klassen. Brothers Henry and Peter followed two and six years later respectively. Walter's first language was German and was not introduced to English until kindergarten. While growing up, family and church were of prime importance. They spent many years with their extensive group of relatives. Walter's first job experience was picking rasberries at his Uncle Peter and Tante Marie's farm, and in his words, was harder than engineering.


Throughout his years, he breezed through elementary and high school. He was always proud of his accomplishments. Even when the teachers went on strike he took it upon himself to learn the curriculum independently. As he got older, he continued working at his uncle Ben's construction company, while his high school physics teacher inspired him to pursue a career in structural engineering. This is also when his volleyball career ignited. Along with volleyball, he was one of the top runners in BC, and played recreational badminton.

Young Adult

Walter got accepted to UBC in Structual Engineering. He was an extremely focused and committed student at UBC. His days were filled with his academics and playing volleyball for the UBC Men's Varsity Volleyball Team. He lived and breathed school, work and volleyball. 

Volleyball History

Words from Walter: 

"My actual UBC volleyball career was:

Made the UBC Varsity Volleyball team in fall 74 (second year of the 5 year engineering program) after playing with the top club team in western Canada, my first year at UBC
(Pre-Engineering Science).  I could have played UBC 73/74 but got recruited
by the club team (containing 4 ex national team players).  I got
Guillain-Barre Syndrome that fall 74 and never did play in a sanctioned
match with UBC my "first" season.

75/76 made team missing 4" of my vertical jump (never did get that last 4"
back) and we won the Canada West and National Championships.

76/77 won Canada West (I made second All-Star team) and came a very
disappointing second at the nationals (see attached photo).

77/78 played lackluster season with UBC under a new coach (previous coach
went on to women's national team coach and new coach was one of my 73/74
club teammates - great player).

Worked at UBC Civil Engineering department as computer programming guru for
whichever prof had a project for me (full time work and I had a blast - even
had an office same as the profs and in the same wing).  Played club
volleyball with BCO (British Columbia Olympics) men's team that won the
Canadian Open the year before I joined and were always ranked in the years I
played (best finish was second).  The coach of my BCO team went on to be
men's national team coach.

In fall of 85 (7 1/2 years after undergraduate degree in spring 78) I
entered Graduate School and approached the current UBC coach (another of my
teammates from 73/74 club) about my years of eligibility count (5 max). By
the books, I already used up 4 years but the first year I was paralyzed.  I
asked if I would make the UBC team if I tried out, but didn't want to try
out unless I could play for two seasons. Coach advised I would be valuable
team member and he worked on expunging that "first" UBC season -

85/86 won Canada West and a disappointing 4th at the Nationals.

86/87 played UBC as an old man (31 years old compared to 19 - 23 for the
rest of the guys) and "assistant captain" (out of misguided respect for my
age).  The last two seasons at UBC I played with 5 Canadian national team
members and one South Korean national team member.

That is 6 seasons of UBC Volleyball with the first year being officially
expunged making up my official 5 seasons of eligibility, with 7 1/2 years
between the three and two year stints.  Santa Ono may have taken the spring
of 78 as the end of my first stint to the fall of 87 as the end of my second
stint, which might be interpreted as 9 1/2 years (or more likely misinformed
by the guys)."


Once graduated Walter met me through coaching Meraloma women's volleyball. Our first date turned out to be quite a crowd...Walter invited me out for pizza after volleyball practice and in my wisdom I invited the whole team much to Walter's chagrin!

He worked for UBC and even went back for his Masters. He loved school a little too much, I even had to force him to enter the real world! 

Walter and I got married 36 years ago at St. David's United Church in West Vancouver. We spent 2 months in Europe for our honeymoon, covering many areas including the UK, France Switzerland, Germany, Italy and ended up recovering on the beach in Greece where Walter lost his wedding band!!!


After a few years of marriage, Linda and Walter started building their family. Son Matthew was born in 1989, followed by daughters Alexzandria in 1993 and Mikaela in 1999. Walter was excited to become a father and built a rocking horse for his first born as well as a glider for Linda. Matthew currently lives in North Vancouver with his fiancé Kelly, working as a personal trainer. Alexzandria is residing in Scotland with her partner Graham, working as an accounts assistant. Mikaela is currently going to UBCO in Human Kinetics and following Walter's footsteps by playing varsity softball.

Wood Working

Walter enjoyed and was very talented in woodworking. I think he has every tool that Home Depot carries in the basement. Throughout the years he built a variety of our furniture including our dining room hutch, wardrobe cabinet, dresser, and various other projects. 


Walter was a connoisseur of pickles. When his mom was still alive, she pickled a mean cucumber which was part of Walter's daily diet. This delight was passed on which Walter inherited and has devoted every September to making a new batch with his children. Other foods passed on from his mother include: chocolate chip muffin cookies, cabbage rolls, and many other German recipes. 

Initial Diagnosis

It should be noted that Walter was challenged medically to the 100th degree. The initial diagnosis of oral cancer in 2010 was so simple. He coped so well and barely missed a day of work. His prognosis was excellent and made it through eight years before we were shocked to find out that it returned. Losing almost all ability to speak and eat was daunting. But again he persevered. Just like engineering, give him a challenge and before you know it, he is an expert in the field. 
We try to look at those eight years as a blessing. We were able to go on multiple cycling trips almost every summer after our youngest was independent. We cycled over 600 km every vacation. The Czech Republic, UK, and Croatia were among our favourite.  

Three Goals

In January when Walter was given the news that his cancer was terminal, the doctor's advice was to live life to the fullest. However it was not simple given that Walter had some severe limitations with eating and speaking. It was not if he could go on a major trip to fulfill his dreams off his bucket list. However, true to himself he had three major goals:

1. To demolish, design and replace the deck in time for Matthew's upcoming wedding. 
2. To see Mikaela play club softball again
3. And to see Alex in Scotland again
The challenge with the deck became more difficult as he got weaker but then he took the role as supervisor, making sure Matthew stayed true to his design. He didn't make it back to Scotland but Alex was able to come back to Vancouver and spend eight critical weeks with him while still functioning independently. Unfortunately, softball is still in a holding pattern due to COVID 19 but he will be watching from above while Mikaela pitches a no hitter!

Thank You

We have been overwhelmed with the amount of kind and caring words we have received about Walter. We would like to express our gratitude for all the love and condolences. We are truly touched. The loving memories and stories shared about Walter were heartwarming. 

If you wish to honour Walter, donations can be made to Engineers Without borders, Mennonite Central Committe, or Union Gospel Mission.

Peace be with you. 

The Janzen Family