Editor’s note: The following eulogy for Patrick Gray was delivered by Keith Parke. We are gathered together to celebrate, honour, remember and pay our respects to a person who has touched the lives of many. Patrick Gray has engraved in our hearts many fond, loving, kind and humorous memories. Patrick will live in each of our hearts forever. God needed an angel and on Dec. 16, 2007, God took Patrick to his eternal home in heaven after a short battle of cancer. Patrick was a dedicated husband, father, grandpa, brother, cousin, nephew, uncle and friend. He was born Nov. 6, 1967 to Ross and Mabel Gray and raised in High Prairie. Patrick was a brother to seven siblings. Patrick had many interests and values. Two of his favourites were weightlifting and boxing. Patrick loved boxing and started at the age of 12. With his hard work, dedication and encouragement from his dad and his coach, Harry Laboucan, Patrick made it to the Nationals winning the diamond belt five times. Patrick was very proud of his accomplishments, so were his family. Patrick also valued education. He attended college and university and instilled these values in his friends and children. Patrick and Leslie Gray (nee Anderson) fell in love in February of 1987 and married in September 1988. Patrick loved and raised Leslie’s children, Julian and Crystal, since the age of three and four years of age. Jaimee was later born in June 1993. Pat’s solid work ethics enabled him to provide all the family needs. His motto was, “You do what you have to do until something better comes along.” As a social worker, during his practicum, his client experienced one of the humorous sides to Patrick’s nature. A client he knew personally came in for assistance and he jokingly asked him, “Can you pick bottles?” The client responded with a “yes” so Pat jokingly said. “Well, I’m sorry, sir, you do not qualify for a cheque.” Here is more of Patrick’s sense of whit and humour. Patrick went to the doctor with stomach problems. The doctor left the office and came back and said, “Pat, I think it’s the booze.” Patrick’s response was, “Well, doctor, maybe I should come back tomorrow after you sober up!” One time in Patrick’s younger years, a person started trouble with him. Leslie, his wife, said Patrick told her his uncle William was going to back him up. Pat told Leslie, “By the time Uncle William took off his tenth sweater, the fight was over.” Patrick was a man who had many gifted humorous personalities. He could dance like Michael Jackson; he’d make people laugh each time he did the moonwalk. Another talent was he could dance like Elvis Presley. Leslie thinks he really thought he was Elvis. One time Patrick and Leslie went out and this guy was on the dance floor dancing like Elvis, Pat said. “That guy really thinks he’s Elvis. There must be something wrong with that guy because he’s not Elvis. I’m Elvis.” Patrick loved his job at Tolko. Tolko employees became part of his family. He was especially fond of the “A” Shift employees. He loved his co-workers and respected them all. In 1999, Patrick required a kidney transplant after discovering he had a rare kidney disease for 10 years. Doctors told him he would need a transplant or be on kidney dialysis. His wife encouraged him to look to God and pray for a miracle. Patrick and Leslie gave their hearts to Jesus and attended Lighthouse Community Church. Miraculously, three days later Patrick got a call after being on the transplant list for only three days. He got his kidney. Patrick was very grateful at his chance to live a normal life. He said, “If it weren’t for the gift of one person, my life would never be the same.” He always said if he ever could, he would donate his organs to give another person a chance at life. One of Patrick’s latest dreams was to take his daughter, Jaimee, and his wife on a trip. This became especially important in the last year. God bless the people of High Prairie and surrounding area, especially to Vivian and Denise and our Tolko friends. Patrick’s dream became a reality. Because Patrick could not leave the country because of his illness, Patrick took his wife and daughter to Toronto and Niagara Falls. This is an experience his family will never forget. Eight years after receiving his kidney, Patrick got the devastating news he had stomach cancer and his chances at recovery were poor. Through community prayer, faith and friendship, the Lord strengthened us through the difficult battle we faced together. Unfortunately, Patrick’s battle was lost, but he will not be forgotten. He fought the good fight, he kept his faith, he finished the race. His work on earth is done, God called him to receive his crown of victory. Patrick leaves to mourn: his wife, Leslie Gray; daughters Jaimee and Crystal; son Julian; his grandchildren Kelsey, Kyrah and Kohen. He also leaves behind sister Joyce, Dolly, Patricia, Lisa (Brett), Riel, Mona, Renata and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews and close friends. He was predeceased by: his parents, Ross and Mable Gray; maternal and paternal grandparents; uncles Rolly, Sullivan and Kenny; Aunt Nelly; cousin Tina; Uncle Leo; and father in-law Alfred Beaudry.
George Gordon McDermott
1922 - 2005
George Gordon McDermott passed away peacefully on March 25, 2005, at 82 years of age at the Mayerthorpe, Alta. Extendicare and is now reunited with his wife of 58 years, Gladys (nee Williscroft).
George was born in Port Carling, Ont. on May 11, 1922. Shortly after his birth his family moved to Northern Alberta.
A kind, loving father of five children, he will be sorrowfully missed by: David (Barb) of Aylesford, N.S., Henry (Marge) McDermott of Grande Prairie, Ardith (Pete) McCann of Stettler, Alta., Debbie (Chris) Spreen of Mayerthorpe, and Connie (Ron) Senkoe of Mayerthorpe; 15 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren; brother Donald (Mae) McDermott of High Prairie, brother Edwin (Lill) McDermott of High Prairie; brother John (Wendy) McDermott, brother David McDermott of British Columbia; sister Margaret Dechamps of Westlock, Alta., sister Pauline (John) Bespflug of British Columbia; sister Martha (Ed) Watson of Clairmont, sister-in-law Beverly McDermott of High Prairie, sister-in-law Carrie McDermott of Barrhead, sister-in-law Maude (Ross) Jensen of Valleyview, sister-in-law Curly (Gary) Coogan of Debolt, Reg (June) Williscroft and Bob and Emma Williscroft of High Prairie; as well as many step grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
George was predeceased by: his infant daughter, Barbara; parents, Gordon and Isabelle McDermott; stepmother Ruth; brothers Elmer and Hugh, sister Sylvia Boire; sister-in-law Lucy McDermott, brother-in-law Bud Dechamps; brother-in-law Ed Kruger, brother in law Donnie Boire, brother in law Swede Williscroft and sister-in-law Delma Williscroft.
The funeral was held April 1 in Valleyview at the Legion Hall at 2 p.m. with Rev. Daryle Kerr officiating. Interment followed in the Valleyview Cemetery Field of Honour.
In lieu of floral tributes, donations may be made to the Mayerthorpe Extendicare at Box 569, Mayerthorpe, Alta., T0E 1N0.
George Edwin Nelson
1928 - 2006
On April 25, 2006, George Edwin Nelson, long time resident of High Prairie, passed away at the age of 78 years.
George came with his parents to High Prairie from Birch Hills, Sask. when he was 19 years old. Their first home was located where the High Prairie and District Golf Course is today. They later moved into High Prairie. George eventually met and married Sheila Habkirk on Nov. 6, 1950. Together, they had six children. Sheila stayed home with the children while George went away to work, hauling logs by horse for Frank Pollard and Steen Nyberg, then by truck for Buchanan Lumber.
In 1949, George homesteaded west and north of High Prairie and set to clearing the land. He managed to clear, break and plow four quarters of land by himself. Once he had enough land cleared, he moved Sheila and the children out to “the farm” as affectionately called by family. She raised the children while George farmed his four quarters and raised cattle. With the cattle came pigs and chickens and many chores for his children. George believed in working for what you had and if you did a job, you did it right. He passed these traits on to his children.
George eventually sold all of his cattle in 1997 and just kept his horses.
Ever since he was a little boy, George loved horses. Each Christmas or New Year’s he would harness up his horses, with sleigh bells attached, and pull his children and grandchildren in his homemade sleigh. This was a yearly event the family all looked forward to.
George settled into retirement with Sheila about nine years ago. They did some bowling and were thinking of joining seniors swim at the new pool.
His greatest love of all though, was his family. George spent many occasions sitting back and enjoying all the fun his kids and grandkids were having with a smile on his face. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to see family drive in the yard, even it was just for a cup of coffee.
George will be greatly missed by: his wife, Sheila; sons Wayne (Debbie) Nelson, Dale (Gloria) Nelson; and daughters Sharron (Tony) Graham, Donna (Greg) Buchanan, and Wanda (Alan) Bloom. He also leaves to mourn 15 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, three sisters: Opal McMillan, Shirley Kasinec and Marjorie Williams, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
George was predeceased by: his son, Ronald; mother, Olia; father, Nels; brothers Melvin, Floyd, Victor, Lester; and sisters Annie, Cora, Dorothy and Vivian.
The funeral was held at the Church of the Nazarene in High Prairie on Saturday, April 29, 2006 at 1 p.m. with Rev. Daryle Kerr officiating. Cremation followed.
Donations may be made to the Alberta Heart and Stroke Foundation as expressions of sympathy.
Lena Fudali passed away in High Prairie Jan. 26, 2008, at the age of 84 years. Lena was born in Drumheller, Alta. March 1, 1923. Lena later moved to Smith, Alta. where she married Josef (Joe) Fudali, who worked on the railroad. Lena and Joe moved to High Prairie in 1946. Lena worked at Boyt’s Store, Fortier’s Dry Cleaners and the High Prairie Regional Health Complex where she retired from after 20 years in the housekeeping department. After Lena’s retirement she enjoyed knitting, crocheting, the Golden Age Club and, most of all, her flowers in her yard for which she won High Prairie Beautification awards and was very proud of. Lena leaves to mourn: her sons, John (Sarah), Ed (Vi) and Joey (Donalda); three grandchildren including Eddie Jr. (Kris), Shauna and Mike; two great-grandchildren, Terryl and Chaz; two sisters, Eva and Stephanie; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by: her husband, Joe, Nov. 22, 1982; a sister, Nettie; and a brother, Bill. As per Lena’s wishes, she was to be cremated and no services held. If friends so desire, donations can be made to Pleasantview Lodge.
Joe Supolik was born Dec. 3, 1923 in Marikova, Czechoslovakia.
He was predeceased by his wife, Dorothy, on Jan. 21, 2003.
He leaves to mourn his three sisters: Margaret (Marshall) Grykuliuk of British Columbia, Mary Hedrich of Faust and Irene (Arne) Carlson of High Prairie; and his stepson, Dennis Zek (Beverly) and their family of Calgary.
Joe arrived in Canada with his mother, Eva, and sister, Mary, in April 1932. His parents, John and Eva, had a homestead in Gilwood. A lot of hard work was done to clear the land.
As the years went on, Joe became an ardent farmer and took pride in raising Hereford cattle, as well as mixed farming. Joe loved the outdoors and did a lot of hunting and fishing. He always enjoyed a good moose steak and a good feed of fish.
Joe retired form farming in July 1991 and moved to town in High Prairie.
John (Johnny) Baptiste Meyers
John (Johnny) Baptiste Meyers was born on July 4, 1922 and passed away on April 2, 2005, at the age of 82 years.
John is survived by: brothers Archie and Peter Meyers; niece Vivian (Bill) Henderson, of Berwyn, Alta.; stepchildren Beatrice Bach, of Olds, Alta., Diane (Sam) Coleman, of Peavine, Patricia Smith, of Cranbrook, B.C., Marilyn (Dwight) Ford, of Clairmont, Alta., Ron Smith, of High Prairie, Carl (Della) Smith, of High Prairie, Karen (Dan) Smith, of Red Earth Creek, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, grandchildren and friends.
He was predeceased by: his father, James William Meyers on May 5, 1980; his mother, Catherine Meyers on Dec. 5, 1983; and his long time companion, Mary Ann Smith, on March 3, 1993.
The funeral for John was held April 7 at 11 a.m. at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church in High Prairie with Rev. Tony Chakkunga V.C. officiating. The eulogist was Don Cunningham. Pallbearers were Don O'How, Vernon Ford, Don Cunningham, Trevor Ford, Ryan Smith and Robert Henderson. Singers were Janice Cunningham and Barb Auger.
Interment followed in St. Paul's Roman Catholic Cemetery in High Prairie.
By David Marx
When I think of Grace, I see her doing what she loved most. I see her transplanting her flowers in her beautiful flower beds with Will close by leaning on his spade. I see her planting trees and patting the dirt here, there, until the tree was absolutely straight with Willy close by leaning on his spade. I remember Grace with an ice cream pail picking dandelions by the thousands so they wouldn’t go to seed in her beautiful flower gardens. Willy was close by leaning on his spade! By Willie A. Marx, David Marx, Paulette Marx, Kristel Sloan Grace was born in South Korea on Nov. 24, 1936. Grace had four sisters and three brothers. She emigrated to the United States in the early 1970s. Grace met Willy in 1982 and they were married on July 31, 1984. Willy and Grace resided in Big Prairie until her passing. Some of Grace’s passions were singing, cooking and the planting of flowers and trees. Other interests included fashion dress making, tennis, and cooking. She kept the family supplied with sushi and egg rolls which we could never get enough of. Grace touched the hearts of many both young and old through her kind and caring nature. She was always willing to listen and offer kind and thoughtful words of encouragement. Grace is survived by her husband Willy, daughter Kristel and husband Jeffrey, gra- ndson Nicholas, and son Jetta and his wife, Rachel. Our amazing Grace was laid to rest at the St. Vladimir Cemetery, very close to her home and her gardens.
Roderick “Bud” Caron, a long-time resident of Falher, passed away Feb. 1, 2011, in St. Albert, Alta., at the age of 78 years.
Roderick was born March 6, 1932 in McLennan and farmed for a living. He was also a municipal councillor for five years, an apprentice mechanic, logging camp attendant and salesman. He volunteered on many community groups in the Guy and Falher area and in later years at the St. Albert Food Bank.
Roderick is survived by: his current wife, Elaine; his four children, Julie (Raymond) Gour, Raymond, Norman (Angela) and Michael; 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
He was predeceased by: his first wife, Alma; parents Fred and Melonia; and three sisters, Marie, Fernie and Rita.
The funeral for Bud Caron was held Feb. 4 in Falher with Father Maurice officiating. Interment followed in the Guy Cemetery.
19** - 2011
Denise Friestadt passed away Feb. 22, 2011, in Edmonton after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 68.
Denise moved to High Prairie in 1994 with Henry Schiml, her common-law husband. Over the years they owned Henry’s Bale Hauling. When Denise wasn’t bowling she was camping or quadding at the Heart River Dam. She loved the outdoors and spending time watching her acquired grandchildren: Blake, Kolby, Nicole and Todd Williscroft, in all their activities.
She is survived by: Henry Schiml; her daughter Sharon (Rick); brothers Fred (Barb) of North Battleford, SK., and Harvey (Georgina) of Wilkie, SK; sister-in-law Karen of Wilkie; and sister Shirley (Dave) of Edmonton.
Denise was predeceased by: her parents, brother Claude, sister Eileen, sister Margaret, brother Arnold and husband Henry Friestadt.
At Denise’s request, no funeral will be held.
Margaret Rose Koski
Margaret Rose Koski was born in Sucker Creek Aug. 8, 1942 and passed away unexpectedly in Sucker Creek Feb. 12, 2011, at the age of 68 years.
Margaret was born to Sam “J.B.” Willier and Mary Louise Willier. As a survivor of the residential school system, Margaret went on in her life to touch many others in her working career. She had a commitment to the helping and healing professions.
She started her work life in the hospital in High Prairie working as a nurse’s assistant in the operating room and emergency room with Dr. Chris Lewis. Not stopping there she went on to further her education in the 1970s in the counselling areas for families, addictions and crisis services.
Over the years she was employed by friendship centres, court and justice services, provincial and federal corrections and in 1991 incorporated MM Consulting and began doing contract work developing and delivering cultural programs.
As well, Margaret worked hard as a teacher of the Cree language and culture. She recorded that she learned from her grandmother that the best thing she could do was to keep speaking her Cree language and teaching the language, “because without the language we would lose the blood of our nation”.
Margaret had the ability to connect with her students of all ages and in her they found not only a teacher but a mentor, encourager and friend.
To properly express Margaret’s early years, perhaps it’s best to quote her recently started memoirs. Margaret mentions “the big old Willier tree” left to stand when her father cleared the land, the log house she was mostly raised in and her chores of barn cleaning and looking after animals with her brothers. Of how they listened to the radio and played their own music. She recognized a way of life that was strong and intact … of “a time when community spirit was strong, and that people had enough to eat and good times were enjoyed”.
However, the day of “going to the mission” came and could not be escaped. She went to the mission school for eight ears – taking harsh lessons from those years who are best completed in her own words: “Life goes on no matter what oppression and putdowns (they) did to me.”
Margaret went on to give birth and raised as best she could two children who she supported from another province. She gave birth to three more children and raised them with their father, Jerry Koski. Margaret and Jerry did their level best, to raise all five of these children and counted all of them as their children. Sadly, Jerry passed away a few short years into the beginning of another generation. Margaret has since seen to grandmothering 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Margaret survived a heart attack in 2006, cancer in 2008, and various other ailments and aging health problems. She was managing her diabetes as best as she could, but was still “stealing” treats, even to the last.
There are many memories of accomplishments, loving kindnesses, enduring faith and thoughtful gestures and actions on her part. We all remembered throughout the years with “Maggie” to not expect to ever see anything we gave her again, because often times she’d have given those things away.
In her last weeks, Margaret took family photos with her sons and daughters, telling them all that she loved them and was dreaming of what she was going to do in the coming months. The morning she passed, Margaret was praying and was reading scriptures sand was quoted as saying, “We’re full, even the fridge is full … actually we’re rich …”
She was blessed to kiss and hug her great-grandson, making deals with him for more kisses next week and left this life complete. She laid her book aside in bed where she was resting and breathed her last.
Margaret is survived by: her sisters Mary Willier, Evelyn Willier-Blyan and Pearl Auger; her brother, Robert Willier; children Brian (Anne) Willier, Charmaine (Kevin) Larsen, Helen Koski, Allan (Ann) Koski, and Robert Koski; grandchildren Jill Gladue-Willier, Drew Willier, April Willier, Brianne Willier, Janine Willier, Chelsea Willier, Lisa Willier, Morgan Willier, Eric Larsen, Chad Larsen, Kaber-Allan Koski, Jordan Koski, Victoria Koski, and Shy-Ann Koski; and great-grandchildren Peter Koski and Jacob Willier-YellowKnee.
She was predeceased by: her sister, Edna Dorothy; and brothers Henry Willier, Fred Willier, and Charlie Willier.
Leonard Arthur Olson passed away Feb. 1, 2011, after a five-year battle with cancer at the age of 67 years.
Throughout his ordeal Leonard never lost his passion for life and politics, his love of his family and he never lost his sense of humour and laughter.
Leonard was born Aug. 1, 1943. He arrived in High Prairie in 1967 to help his father, Oliver Olson, scale logs for the Alberta government. He also worked as a timekeeper/cook for Forestry. He intended to stay only a few months but stayed the rest of his life.
Leoanrd devoted much of his life volunteering in High Prairie. He was general manager for the High Prairie Regals and spoke often of the players, road trips and the Regals’ glory years. After his involvement with the Regals, he served as vice-president of the North Peace Hockey League for several years attesting to his love of senior hockey.
Leonard served three terms on town council and served on virtually every committee. Among many things he was pleased with was the development of Jaycee Park for recreation and the improvements in sidewalks. He said many times that early in his political career the sidewalks in High Prairie were in poor shape, plus there was a significant lack of handicapped access to buildings. He helped create a sidewalk replacement program and more handicapped access, which he was very proud of.
Leonard was a long-time member of the Alberta Senior Citizens Council as well as being an active and long-standing member of the Progressive Conservative Party. Leonard took great pride in his role working with the various Metis settlements on behalf of the Alberta government.
Leonard’s love of golf was life-long and we know he’ll be teeing off the red tee boxes where every shot will be a hole-in-one. He also served several years on the local golf club executive.
Leonard is survived by: his two children, Patricia and Darryl; his brother Roger; and his sister Gloria Horton (nee Olson); his grandchildren Melodie Morgan Laderoute, Lucas Gordon Laderoute and Nikita Lamouche will miss their Papa very much. As well, Leonard, is survived by his ex-wife, Anne Thomson, of Valleyview.
The family asks people to send donations to the charity of their choice in lieu of flowers.
The service for Leonard Arthur Olson was held at High Prairie St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church Feb. 12, at 1:30 p.m. Leonard’s family thanks the Town of High Prairie, the Regals alumni, and all those who knew him and called him friend.