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

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Birds were saved but the buildings on Castleman Road were destroyed by fire

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

VIDEO: Chilliwack chicken barn destroyed by fire

Chickens saved from blaze as firefighters work to control large fire

50-year-old time capsule unsealed at Abbotsford International Airport

Capsule sealed by former PM Pierre E. Trudeau in 1970, when event became ‘Canada’s National Airshow’

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

UPDATE: Police have Maple Ridge hotel locked down

A large contingent of Mounties are at the Art Infiniti Hotel on Lougheed Highway

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Fraser Valley heritage house

Chilliwack heritage house makes 1.7-kilometre journey to new location

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for Aug. 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Construction underway on Langley’s new hospice residence

The new 15-bed facility is slated for completion in summer 2021

Most Read