A prominent Lake Cowichan businessman has died at 63.
Jim Neiser of Neiser’s Rentals died suddenly on Jan. 4. after suffering an apparent cardiac event at work.
Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day said the long-time laker will be missed.
“I knew Jim as one of his customers,” Day said. “I often hoped it was Jim behind the counter so I could hear one of his great Cowichan Lake pioneer stories. Whenever we would get into a good discussion I could always count on Jim for a good old lumberjack analogy on the topic. I know Jim will be sorely missed by his family, friends, staff and customers.”
Day couldn’t be more correct. According to his sister and business partner, Janice, Neiser led a simple life. He never married but what he did have was a huge family of friends around the Lake.
The Neisers were raised around Kissinger Lake and Jim had a trap line, washed the crummies (logging vehicles), delivered newspapers by snowmobile, and whatever else he could do to earn some pocket money.
The family moved there in 1959 and were the last household to leave in 1975.
In 1980 Neiser Sales, Service & Rentals Ltd. was opened by their father and after a few years Jim and then Janice joined the family business.
Eventually, the siblings became business partners.
“We were business partners for 38 years side by side,” said Janice. “We never had an argument or disagreement.”
The business is in the process of being sold now — something that was in the works before Neiser’s untimely death.
“We planned on retiring and spending more time in the north,” Janice said. Neiser had 40 acres in the Chilcotin, where he had horses and liked to go and hunt.
“We’ve had a bit of change of plans now,” Janice added.
Along with his horses, Neiser had two beloved black labs, both of which died in the fall, a few months apart from each other.
Neiser was a lover of animals and all things in nature, especially hunting and fishing. He was part of a group of buddies that did an annual pheasant hunt in Brooks, Alta. He ice-fished up north, and he was an avid fisherman out at Port Renfrew. He even had wild pet birds.
“He had an eagle, Sylvia,” Janice related. “And she used to sit at Mesachie Lake, where he lived on the water, and wait for him to come out on his fishing days, then follow him home again. And she’d sit at his cleaning station, on the picnic table and Sylvia would sit at the end of the table and share the scraps.”
It went beyond that; Neiser kept and froze fish scraps to make sure Sylvia got fed every day and if he was out of town he’d make sure somebody else fed the big bird. If he ran out of scraps, he’d go buy chicken.
What’s more, he had hummingbirds. Thousands!
“He would go through five gallons of hummingbird food when the heat was on,” Janice said. “In the winter, the birds would live in his attic. They’d live on a wire hanging in his attic. There’s probably still some in there.”
Janice said she’s “going to miss everything” about her brother. “He was an unbelievable cook. He wouldn’t eat other people’s food. He just chose not to,” she said. Anything he needed he could provide for himself.
“He also was well-known as the hand-filer/grinder of power saw chains,” Janice said. “It is an art. He learned it from my dad. Now that’s gone along with him.”
The Lake’s David Lowther said Neiser helped him with his own chainsaw.
“He was one of my own resource people when I moved here as a dashing urbanite these many years ago,” Lowther said. “I had avoided chainsaws after my years in the ER, mainly because a minor accident can use an entire case of No. 3 silk suture, but when I was clearing the acreage for Mary’s new and improved garden Mr. Neiser ensured that I knew how to use the saw he sold me without an unscheduled amputation.”
Lowther said Neiser was the “only game in town” when you needed a short-term tool or machine.
“I knew him only to do business with, but he was a tremendous resource when I had a job to do but didn’t know what tool to do it with. He usually had the tool you needed, and if he didn’t he knew who did.”
Lake Cowichan will miss Jim Neiser.
“You have to trudge along here now,” said Janice. “But we’ll get through.”