New bungalow for Calgary man who lost home, wife in fire

Willi Craciun gets a kiss from daughter Laura-Lynn Bromwich - and grandson Alexander - in front of the new house donated to him to replace the home that burned to the ground and took the life of his wife.

Credits: Mike Drew/Calgary Sun/QMI AGENCY


CALGARY -- On her deathbed, Willi Craciun's wife knew of the donated home that would take the place of the one destroyed in the fire that would take her life.

Standing for the first time in the living room of the his new home Thursday, Craciun teared up at recalling the peace of mind that knowledge brought to Elly, his wife of 47 years.

"She was really worried about everything," said Craciun, 65. "She's probably watching and saying 'change the colour'... this makes one hell of a difference."

On Nov. 5, fire swept through the Craciun's Turner Valley, Alta., home, destroying all the couple's possessions and their uninsured home.

Neighbours pulled the critically injured Elly, 81, from the blazing home but she died in hospital two weeks later.

That tragic news was enough to convince Pat McCann to donate the early 1960s-vintage, three-bedroom, 1,100 square-foot bungalow to a man who'd given enough to his community to earn a Melvin Jones Fellowship from his Foothills Lions Club.

"I actually got off my butt and put my feelings into action," said McCann, co-owner of McCann's Building Movers, which will also transport the house from southeast Calgary to Craciun's Turner Valley property next month.

"It's making everyone else jump into the action ... hopefully, it's the beginning of a better life for Willi."

Carolina Homes and Blue Ridge Excavating are providing a basement for the new home while other companies are donating appliances, McCann said.

When he first laid eyes on the white-gray bungalow, Craciun poured out his gratitude to McCann.

"It's unbelievable what you've started here," he told McCann.

"The generosity is overwhelming ... it's been fantastic."

Accompanying him was his daughter, Laura-Lynn Bromwich, who said the fire had not only left a huge hole in their family, but a dark future.

"It's amazing -- a month ago, we were trying to decide how to rebuild a life, to start from scratch," she said. "It's heartwarming -- I don't know what words to describe the businesses coming forward to help my dad.

"They've given us Christmas."

Craciun said he's looking forward to fixing up the home.

"This'll be a dream, it'll keep me occupied," he said, checking the measure of one of the home's bedrooms.

A trust fund has been set up for Craciun, who's also received considerable donations of household goods to fill the new home.

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