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In Loving Memory of Collin Jean Wildschut
(February 24, 1948 - January 26, 2024)
Collin Jean Wildschut, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend, passed away on January 26, 2024, at the age of 75 after a courageous three-year battle with cancer. Born on February 24, 1948, in Jakarta, Indonesia, Collin's life was a testament to resilience, passion, and unwavering dedication to his family and community.
Collin's journey began in The Hague, Netherlands, where he spent his early years with his parents, Jacoba Pesch and Jan Wildschut, and siblings (Janine, Ellen, Peter, Catie, and Desi). At the age of 14, the family relocated to Arnhem, Netherlands, forming enduring connections with the Janssen family. It was during this time that Collin met Rita Janssen, who would later become his lifelong partner.
Passionate about soccer, Collin pursued a career as a professional player until a knee injury altered his path. Undeterred, he joined the Dutch military from 1969 to 1971, emerging as one of the elite Green Berets. His service led him to Surinam, where he dedicated himself to the committed fulfillment of his duties.
Returning home, Collin pursued studies at Wageningen University, specializing in dairy farming. Concurrently, he and Rita began their journey together, eventually marrying in 1975 after Collin and Rita's immigration to Canada. The couple settled in Duchess, Alberta, where Collin secured a position at the Brooks Horticultural Research Centre, contributing significantly to agricultural research and development for nearly three decades. Collin was proud to play a large role in diversifying Alberta’s crops to reduce the dependence on grains, but rather to teach Alberta farmers how to grow special crops (lentils, canola, peas, beans, sunflowers, etc.).
Collin's unwavering dedication extended beyond his professional life. In 1976, Collin and Rita started a family, together raising three children: Mark, Janine, and Dustin. In addition to being an incredible father, Collin supported his wife's pursuit of a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Lethbridge. The family thrived on a 10-acre acreage, transforming it into a home filled with love and warmth. Despite working long days, Collin would work endlessly in the evenings and weekends upgrading and renovating the house, which went through many phases of construction and expansion. Collin prided himself in being self-taught to complete all aspects of home-building.
To rest from the physically demanding work, Collin’s downtime involved being surrounded by animals. Always having two or more cats and dogs over nearly five decades, any animal would have been fortunate to have lived under Collin’s care. Despite living on an acreage, Collin’s dogs were treated to a walk in the Rock Lake area every single day.
In 2002, facing a career shift due to downsizing, Collin embraced his passion for photography. His keen eye for nature photography and his ease with people led him to become a well-known photographer in the community. In 2010, Collin and Rita’s passion for the arts led to their dream to build the Red Roof Studio, a space for creating or enjoying art, photography, and music for the community. Together with Rita, Collin’s genuine hospitality led to the success of Red Roof Studio Art, Photography, and B&B. As a superhost on Airbnb, Collin welcomed guests from across the world and organized monthly concerts or open mikes, leaving an indelible mark on his community. Anyone who came to Red Roof Studio was offered a latte, a glass of wine, or dinner by Collin, as he loved to spoil everyone and anyone who came into his sphere. To expand his impact beyond Red Roof and onto the community, Collin volunteered for the Newell Regional Tourism Association (NRTA; now Brooks Region Tourism) from 2015-2021, including being Chair of the organization for four years.
Collin’s family will best remember him for being a history buff, a passionate reader of newspapers and magazines, and watching the news every day. He was very well-read and versed on politics and this made for well-informed and intellectual conversations when in the company of Collin. In addition, he shared with his family his love of movies and music. For several years, Collin brought independent movies to the Brooks movie theatre via the Toronto Film Festival and he treated his family to a daily movie while raising his children. Collin’s music collection was admirable, filled with classics such as the Beatles, Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel, Tom Petty and the Eagles; and he loved live music.
Collin's infectious sense of humor and his ability to connect with anyone around him were legendary. Whether shopping at the grocery store or hosting events at the Red Roof Studio, he had a knack for making people feel at ease and leaving them with a smile.
A devoted family man, Collin and Rita celebrated 48 years of marriage in March 2023. His legacy lives on through his wife, Rita, his children Mark, Janine, and Dustin, and his cherished grandchildren, Nathan and Kayla Wildschut.
Collin's life was a testament to hard work, endurance, fearlessness in learning, independence, and kindness. He instilled these values in his children and grandchildren, leaving an enduring impact on generations to come. His favorite song, "Imagine" by John Lennon, encapsulated his philosophy of living for today, a sentiment reflected in every facet of Collin's life. Collin was surrounded by his family when he peacefully passed, while his wife sang to him Imagine. His entire family envisioned him walking away from them in the prairies, with all of his past dogs overjoyed to be with him again.
Collin will be dearly missed by all who knew him, but his spirit will forever live on in the memories of those he touched. May he rest in peace, and may his legacy inspire us all to live with the same passion, resilience, and kindness that defined his remarkable life.
According to Collin’s wishes, a funeral will not be held. However, on February 24, 2024, the Red Roof Studio will be hosting a Celebration of Life for Collin. All are welcome, but please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by February 14th, 2024 and we will respond with details.