Regretfully we announce the passing of Citroënvie club member Al Eberhard who succumbed to a long term cancer illness on March 13, peacefully at home.
Al had been coping with cancer for quite some time and although in the past three weeks had been confined to bed, he remained cheerful. Al and his partner Silvia Basedau, who had lived together for many years, were married last month on Valentines Day.
Al had been an enthusiastic member of Citroën Autoclub Canada for two decades. He and Silvia attended many outings. The “other woman” in Al’s life was Bezy, the name he always affectionately called his blue 602cc 2CV. He acquired her in Germany and even though she had relatively high mileage (over 200K kms) Bezy and Al traveled many great distances, camping in Northern Ontario and attending Rendezvous at Saratoga Springs many times.
Al was a true rustic camper. He enjoyed pulling off to the side of the road and overnighting in Bezy. I recall one time Al decided to go the Ottawa Citroën Club meeting in August and decided he would take a nice leisurely route camping out near Smith’s Falls. Al saw an opening into a farmer’s hayfield and decided that was a perfect place to curl up in Bezy for the night. He had closed the roof and windows, but that didn’t deter the mosquitoes from finding access through the split windows in the doors and trying to devour Al. By 2 am Al couldn’t stand it anymore and drove into the nearby town of Smith’s Falls to spend the balance of the night in a bank parking lot only to be awakened in the morning by curious townsfolk that had set up a farmers market around him.
Al traveled Europe in the same manner with Bezy before he moved to Canada. Spain, Portugal, southern France, you name it – Al had been there. Al actually considered Bezy a luxury vehicle because his first car was a 300 cc, 2 cyl. 2 stroke, air-cooled, genuine imitation leather covered wood framed Lloyd. Compared to that the 2CV was almost a Mercedes 300 SL!
Al grew up in a small town in northern Germany as the youngest child and only boy with 4 older sisters. He always felt that he was picked on by his sisters and could not wait to move away from home. He completed an apprenticeship as machine fitter and after the compulsory army service, he completed another one as car mechanic.
He came to Canada in 1967 with his first wife who had an opportunity to work for two years at a Canadian subsidiary of her German employer. When his marriage broke up, Al stayed in Canada, even though his wife went back to Germany and took their son with her.
Al initially worked in Canada as a service advisor for a VW dealership, but in 1977 he started with the Ministry of Transportation where he worked in vehicle inspections. He was happy to drive around the city independently in his MTO cruiser, pulling over commercial vehicles and inspecting them by the side of the road. He almost did not want to retire when the time came in 2006, but once he did, he really started to enjoy his life.
Al met Silvia in 1994 at an Octoberfest celebration at Skydome, now known as the Rogers Centre.
Another of Al’s passions was sailing. He maintained a small sailboat named Enterprise on the Toronto waterfront and when he wasn’t toodling about in Bezy, could often be found on (and sometimes in) the water around the Toronto Islands.
Al is survived by his son, daughter in law and 2 grandchildren. His son managed to visit with him at the end of February.
Perhaps the thing we will miss most about Al was the zeal he exuded being a proud Canadian and a member of our Club . He would always have a giant Canadian flag in Bezy that would be hoisted at any event. He always had a smaller Canadian flag mounted on her front fender well tattered from his travels. And Al would always show up at Club events wearing Club pins in his hat and his Club T-shirt, proudly displaying our logo which is a mix on double chevrons and a Canadian flag theme.
Al was always one to celebrate the seasons. He sent in numerous photographs of him and Bezy over the years. In our 2012 calendar, the October picture was the one he took of Bezy one day when out for an autumn drive. He spotted some pumpkins stacked in a wagon at the side of the road. Al stopped and placed the pumpkins around Bezy for an absolutely gorgeous photo.
And Al would do the same for Christmas. He would hang decorations and in some manner incorporate Bezy into the shot, often with a Christmas tree sticking out of her!
Each year Al would bring Bezy to our Club Christmas party. Even this past year, weather cold as heck and Al not in the best of health, he rolled back Bezy’s roof and went to the Christmas tree lot, then showed up at the party in Bezy sprouting the Christmas tree. That was classic Al.
Following Al’s wishes his urn will be buried in Germany and a celebration of life gathering will follow at a letter date, probably early June, in Toronto.