A geoscientist, a climber, a teacher, a loving husband and father, and a man of God.
These are some of the ways that Squamish geological engineer Frank Baumann will be remembered, but as a man with boundless energy and an unrelenting curiosity, this list could undoubtedly be much longer.
The 66-year-old professional engineer died Friday, Nov. 1 with his family at his side after being involved in a car accident eight days earlier when his car swerved off a bridge near Pemberton. Whistler RCMP indicated that Baumann might have suffered medical distress while driving, which could have led to the crash.
The long-time Squamish resident was one of the region's leading geotechnological experts as well as an accomplished mountaineer, but his family and friends remember him first and foremost as a warm, generous man of many passions.
"He was a wonderful person in every respect of the word," said Baumann's daughter, Katherine, on Tuesday, Nov. 5. "He was extremely passionate, always stood up for what he believed in and truly loved people."
A registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C., Baumann led the charge against development in Squamish's Cheekye Fan area and supported the construction of the Fitzsimmons Creek debris barrier in Whistler. He specialized in the evaluation and management of terrain issues and slope hazards, and was a noted avalanche hazard assessment expert.
He was also the founder of Baumann Engineering, which started in the early '90s and developed avalanche safety plans for numerous resource industry clients.
A former high school teacher and part-time instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Baumann was an avid educator, sharing his extensive knowledge and expertise with many over the years.
"For me, Frank was an educator and it was his good sense of humour and willingness to share his knowledge that I'll remember," said Dave Southam, Sea to Sky district manager with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
"Any opportunity I ever had to get in a helicopter or do a field inspection with Frank was greatly appreciated by me. At the time, I was fairly young and new to the industry and he was always willing to share his experiences and knowledge."
Baumann was also a seasoned, gifted climber, having summitted Warbler Ridge on Mount Logan in 1977, as well as Mount McKinley, and the Stawamus Chief on numerous occasions.
Close friend Rick Price, who first met Baumann as a fellow student and outdoor enthusiast at UBC in the late '60s, said he had the potential to become one of Canada's top climbers.
"He was a hard person to keep up with, both physically — he was astonishingly fit in the mountains — but also because of the number of interests and enthusiasms he wanted to pursue," Price said. "It made him a unique individual in many ways. If he was going to do something, you knew that it was going to be done really well, and if you did it with him, you knew it was going to be a lot of fun."
Baumann was also an active volunteer and served as chair of the board for Kawkawa, a Christian youth camp in Hope.
"He'd always invite people to stay at our house and always noticed anybody who was lonely," said Katherine. "He really had a gentle heart and helped anyone who needed a hand."
Baumann is survived by his wife Nadine, daughters Katherine, Julia and Amy Robinson.
A celebration of Baumann's life will be held Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Vancouver Coastal Church at 1160 West Georgia in Vancouver beginning at 11 a.m. The family is requesting that attendees refrain from wearing black. A remembrance will be held at 6 p.m. the same day at the Baumann home in Squamish for close friends and family.
In lieu of flowers, consider sending a donation to Camp Kawkawa at www.kawkawa.com.
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