Sharon Wiener and Ben Manea, owners of Walla Artisan Bakery Cafe. Manea died in June due to complications with his diagnosis of ALS. (Western News file photo)

Widow shares final words of wisdom from beloved Penticton baker

Ben Manea, owner of Walla Artisan Bakery and Café, died on June 15 due to complications from his ALS

It is just a simple-looking, solid-grey industrial shelving unit pushed up against a wall in the Cannery Trade Centre, but for many it is so much more than that.

The shelving unit once used by well-known Penticton baker Ben Manea, that has become a memorial piece at the Cannery Trade Centre. (Submitted photo)

The shelving unit, now decorated with plants and photos, has become a memorial for the well-known baker Ben Manea who used it every day as he created his goods at Walla Artisan Bakery and Café. Manea, who died on June 15, due to complications from his ALS, worked in the bakery right up until his passing.

His wife, Sharon Weiner, shared his final blog post to their website on Friday — something he had been working on before he died.

READ MORE: Baking bread for the final time at Penticton’s Walla Bakery

“I embraced every obstacle and mountain as a challenge to overcome, and every failure as a lesson to be learned. This was one of the few times in my life when rogue and unchecked instincts directed me towards something that defied logic (baking bread) and seemed like sheer madness to others. I ignored everything, every voice of reason, and just went for it,” Manea wrote.

And in doing so, Manea built a successful business over the past 12 years — “bread that improved people’s lives one bite at a time.”

Weiner sold many of the items that were used to create all the bread and goods for Walla, except for the larger bakery equipment. In a strange twist she said that eventually went to Green Bay Bible Camp in West Kelowna.

Baker Ben Manea (right) with his wife Sharon Weiner (left) before his death from complications from his ALS. (Submitted photo)

“They wanted all the large equipment that it seemed no one had room for. Within a couple of days the deal was done. The best part of the miracle is that Ben had bought his minivan from the Green Bay Bible Camp many years ago, and had been driving around all these years with their logo on his hood. It gave me goosebumps. I guess he’s been helping all along,” said Weiner.

READ MORE: Life takes an unpredictable turn for well-known South Okanagan baker

In his final musings, as he reminisced about the “Walls Circus and Carnival,” Manea offers some words of wisdom.

“Yet we should not be afraid of death, just of a life unlived and dreams unfulfilled. When life gives you a challenge, go ahead: dare to charge with gusto and abandon, and harness the courage to follow your instincts. Otherwise, forever you will be doomed to shed tears for lost opportunities and possibilities while longing for something that is no longer there except for vestiges of the past,” he wrote. “It is not about the length of life, but the depth of it you are willing to explore while challenging your ‘safety and comfort zone,’ and remember that only those who live deeply do not fear death! But, hey what do I know; after all, I’m just a baker!”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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