Samuel Lanzarotta passed away on October 15th, 2021, just 8 days shy of his 104th birthday. He
was born to Frank and Agata Lanzarotta in Termini Imerese, Sicily on October 23, 1917. He
lived with his older sister and parents on a small, fertile farm where the family grew, made, and
preserved nearly all the food they ate. He had a happy childhood where everyone in the family
contributed to the jobs that had to be done. Sam’s mom was one of the few literate adults in the
village and often read books to an audience of neighbours. When the political climate in Italy
changed, the family emigrated, and in May of 1927, 9-year-old Sam was on a boat sailing across
the Atlantic. Conditions were difficult for the family who, by this time, included an infant
daughter. They arrived in Canada after clearing American customs at Ellis Island and then
completed their journey to Toronto by train.
Sam initially found his new country confusing, especially because, as he had contracted measles,
he was immediately isolated and separated from his family. Once he rejoined them, the children
started school and his father worked hard in a fruit stand to support the family. After a few years
of schooling and learning English, Sam, in the midst of the Great Depression, quit school to help
with the family’s limited finances. His many jobs included delivering groceries, cutting grass,
walking racehorses early in the morning, and, eventually, playing competitive hockey, for which
he made $2.00 a game.
All the while, Sam read everything he could and studied mathematics on his own until he wrote
exams and qualified for a machinist’s apprenticeship. He proved to be talented at this trade and
also used these skills when he served in the Canadian army for three and a half years during
World War II. He did military training in Scotland and was shipped to North Africa through the
Straits of Gibraltar, where he witnessed the boat carrying troops in front of him being torpedoed
and destroyed. His unit eventually landed in Sicily and was part of the Canadian forces who
battled their way north through Italy, fought in the Battle of Ortona, and, at the end of the war,
participated in the liberation of Holland.
Following the war, Sam returned to his family in Toronto and shortly after, married Ruth, his
wife of 62 years. They lived in Alberta briefly, but spent most of their time in BC, raising their
family as they relocated from Vancouver to Nelson, Cranbrook, Castlegar, Penticton, Maple
Ridge, and Pitt Meadows. Along this journey, Sam worked for the forestry, started and ran his
own successful tire shop business, managed arenas, and served as a maintenance foreman. After
Sam lost his much-loved Ruth, he was welcomed by his final community, Parkwood Manor, in
Sam loved sports and devoted many hours to coaching minor hockey teams. He fished, took
ballroom dancing, and played a little golf. In retirement, he travelled with Ruth to Egypt,
Southeast Asia, Israel, Jordan, many parts of Europe, and throughout Canada and the United
States. He loved music and regularly attended theatre and symphony performances in
Vancouver. He also enjoyed Massey Theatre performances, a pastime that he shared with a close
group of friends.
Throughout his life, family and friends were his priorities. He loved people and lived by the
credo of helping others and showing kindness whenever he could, working hard, living with
integrity, and learning constantly (he got his first computer at age 90). He had a wonderful sense
of humour, a very quick wit, a contagious laugh, and a smile that could melt your heart. He was
committed to the importance of both physical and mental fitness. He was a lifelong learner, and
he did weight workouts regularly well into his 103rd year with valued groups of friends in Maple
Ridge and at Parkwood Manor.
While Sam lived a full, exciting, and rewarding life, he will be most remembered for his family
values, care for his friends, generosity, courage, kindness, and willingness to help others. He was
a proud Canadian, a role model for his family, and an inspiration to many others.
He was predeceased by his parents, his beloved wife, Ruth, siblings Pearl, Josephine, Frank and
Lena, nephews Frank, Alan and Clifford and niece, Mary.
Sam is survived and missed deeply by his loving children Frank (Fiona), Joanne (Gene), and
Ronan (Alexandra), sister Francis, five grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
If you wish, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Salvation Army, the Heart and
Stroke Foundation, Children’s Hospital, Eagle Ridge Hospital, or any charity of your choosing.