Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Ron Hupper reached celebrity status with people who traveled Keith Wilson Road on a regular basis, sitting in his wheelchair at the end of his driveway, smiling and waving at everyone who went by. (Facebook photo)

You may think that you’ve never seen Ron Hupper, but if you‘ve lived in Chilliwack and you’ve ever driven along Keith Wilson Road, you almost certainly have.

Do you remember a guy sitting in a motorized wheelchair at the end of a driveway, waving at you as you drove by? Do you remember asking yourself, ‘Who is that guy?’

That was Ron, a local celebrity of sorts who epitomized the saying, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’

Nearly nine years ago, he suffered a bad stroke that left the right side of his body completely paralyzed. Beforehand, he was an active guy who owned his own business and traveled the world with his wife.

Having all of that taken away would leave most of us wallowing in self pity, but not the man that Taylor Roseboom called ‘Papa.’

“When he got home after months of physical therapy in Vancouver and Coquitlam, it was really hard for him because he used to be the man of house,” said Taylor, Ron’s 20-year-old granddaughter. “My Grandma started bringing him outside when she was gardening, and while he was out there, occasionally a family member would drive by an honk.

“So he ended up going to the end of the driveway to sit, and that’s where it started.”

The stroke left Ron mostly non-verbal. He could say a few words, like yes and no and good.

“And a few choice curse words,” Taylor added with a laugh.

But the stroke didn’t take away his smile, and that’s what drew people in. They’d drive by and there he’d be, relaxing in his wheelchair, grinning and waving.

People started honking, which encouraged him to wave even more.

“It became this thing where he wanted to go out there every day, because it gave him something to smile about,” Taylor said. “He grabbed his newspaper first thing in the morning and then he’d come inside to eat breakfast, but some days he’d be out there before he even had breakfast and my Grandma would have to call out, ‘Honey! You haven’t had your toast yet!

“If there was snow outside and his wheelchair couldn’t make it, or it was super rainy, he would be so frustrated. But even when he was stuck inside, he could still hear people honking their horns. I’d be like, ‘Oh Papa. There’s your fans honking for you.”

Soon enough, some of the more curious among the passers-by started pulling over to introduce themselves. People brought him cookies and brownies, and one kind-hearted soul brought him a blanket to keep him warm on chillier days.

“People started saying to me, ‘Hey, have you ever seen that guy over on Keith Wilson?’ and I’d say, ‘He’s my grandpa!’” Taylor said.

Ron’s health started deteriorating in March of this year, with a series of strokes and seizures landing him in the hospital for several months. Around four weeks ago he was moved to a care home, and doctors discovered two untreatable brain bleeds.

“It was hard with COVID because we weren’t allowed to visit him,” Taylor said. “It was hard for him because he didn’t have his Keith Wilson Road anymore, and I didn’t realize so many people truly enjoyed seeing him until he wasn’t there anymore. The day he died, I heard eight cars honk out there and I thought, ‘Oh my. He’s not even here anymore and people are still honking for him.”

Taylor posted the news to Facebook Saturday and was shocked by the response. Two hundred and six heartfelt comments (as of Sunday afternoon) from people whose lives Ron touched, every one of them read and appreciated by Taylor.

“My Papa was a really tough man. What he went through was so hard and it was so hard watching him go through it,” she said. “The biggest thing I learned from him is that I’m never going to treat life like it’s short or dwell on things, ever, because he adjusted and overcame something horrible and he was still our Papa.

“I will always push through and persevere, just like he did.”

chilliwack

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Young Abbotsford cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Most Read