Ruby Blanche Willard
Ruby Blanche Willard came into this world November 2, 1910. Her parents felt so blessed when they saw their little darling. They didn't think they needed any more. Ruby was perfect.
The Coleman Clan came up to Alberta from South of the border in covered Conestoga wagons. Ruby's grandparents settled in Nanton. She spent most of her childhood in her grandparent's home. Both of her parents were of Irish descent. She inherited their love of music and dancing was in her soul.
Life's circumstances left Ruby's mother a single parent. Iva was away a lot cooking on road construction crews with her father, brothers, and so left Ruby with her grandmother.
Ruby finished her schooling in North Edmonton. She and her mother then moved to the Kinuso and Faust area. Iva met and married Joe Mitchell, who was of the Cree Nation. Joe and Iva did not have any children together, so Ruby still longed for a family.
In the late 20s, Ruby met and fell in love with Alexander Huculak. He was a shoemaker turned fisherman. He came from the land of Poland to sweep off her feet.
Though Ruby was raised on the plains of Southern Alberta and learned to ride her grandfather's race horses at an early age; when she came north, she felt she had come home to the bush and she loved it.
In spite of the fact that Ruby's mother and grandmother and her aunts were excellent cooks and could all sew a fine seam, Ruby herself hated to cook. Her loves were books, poetry, gardening, flowers, making lists and then her greatest love her children. She loved doing her laundry, which was a good thing because there was plenty of it. She tells of washday in Faust when families bundled up their laundry and their washboards and went down to the lake. They made a fire to cook their meal of the day. It was a great community outing.
Being an only child made Ruby long for a big family. She said that she would like nine boys to start. At first it looked like she would get her wish when she was blessed with three sons in two and one half years, Ambarry Charles, Francis Murray and Richard. Later she was again blessed with two daughters, JudyAnn and Jane.
Ruby found herself raising her three boys alone through the great depression. Through those hard times, she learned about herself and her survival skills. She felt she had learned enough to survive a second one. After all, she had made a list.
One of the stories she tells that I appreciated the most showed her independence and ingenuity. There were no financial helpers in those days, so you did the best you could with what you had. Ruby had nothing but three hungry boys and a list. She wrote to the Salvation Army and asked for their best warm woolen overcoats. They were happy to comply. From the softer coats, she made pants and coats for her three boys. The rougher heavier ones she traded for a milk cow or a winter supply of firewood: sometimes potatoes, sometimes moose meat. Now they call this wonderful trading the barter system.
Ruby never got as far north as she wanted to go. The North Country called to her. The most precious treasure to her was the simplicity of a warm log cabin, plenty of wood, the wind howling around the eaves and the falling snow swirling about the heavy cabin door. And she curled up by the fire reading The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which she did once a year. She felt if a book was worth reading the first time it became a friend you wanted to read often and stay acquainted with.
She loved the language of the homestead. She loved the winter snowmen, the hoarfrost on the tree branches, the patterns old Jack Frost left on her cabin window. She loved the taste of fresh cold water out of the hand pump at the wold well. She loved the sight of oat and wheat sheaves standing in rows in the field in the fall.
Ruby cared about the environment. She loved a marsh. This meant safety for the waterfowl and the site and sound of the red winged blackbirds swaying in the breeze as they rested on the marsh grasses. Ruby always knew what was going on in the world, from current events to the latest fashion. She always wore what suited her taste and she always remained feminine.
Tragedy was no stranger to Ruby. There was never a time when she laid the sorrows of her burdens on mortal man, she saved that for her times alone with God.
In spite of all the heartaches and disappointments Ruby still kept laughter and joy in her heart. They were her biggest assets.
Her legacy has been to encourage her children to serve a risen Saviour. She has succeeded. Ruby's loved ones await her as she comes into the presence of God, her mother, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Most recent and special are her children who await her coming with gladness, sons Ambarry and Francis and daughter Jane. All who really knew Ruby Blanche Willard will truly miss her.
Her remaining family will miss her as long as we live, her daughters JudyAnn and Josephine, son Richard, grandsons Gary, Charles, Dale and Jordan, great-grandchildren Courtney and Cassidy.
Laurie Savill, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, passed way peacefully on April 2, surrounded by family.
He is survived by: Dorothy, his cherished wife of 63 years; his children, Myler (Mary), Brian (Dale), Wayne (Kay), and Jarron (Barry Diederich); 11 grandchildren and seven great-grand-children.
Laurie was born in High Prairie on March 13, 1927. He was the second youngest of 12 children born to Sid and Eva Savill. At the age of 15, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force where he served overseas as a Rear Gunner in a Lancaster Bomber Squadron.
Upon his return to Canada and while convalescing in hospital, he met a corporal with the Canadian Red Cross by the name of Dorothy Myler. Despite his devious card playing, they fell in love. On Aug. 10, 1946, in Edmonton, they eloped, witnessed by Laurie’s sister Eva, Dorothy’s best friend Margaret Jarron, and their husbands.
When Laurie moved back to High Prairie with his city bride, he planned to go back to the family farm. Circumstances changed, and Laurie worked for Walter Woods, then Max Vanderaegen, and finally Canada Post, where he worked for 32 years. Laurie and Dorothy raised their four children in High Prairie and were active members of the community. Summer vacations were spent at what became the gathering point for the growing Savill clan - Shaw’s Point (The Lake) where they built their own log cabin in 1959.
Sports were always a huge part of Laurie’s life: hockey, baseball, curling, hunting, fishing and golfing. At the lake, the family enjoyed all the water sports and adopted others who wanted to learn.
In 1986, Laurie and Dorothy moved to Edmonton where Laurie retired from Canada Post in 1992. Summers were spent at their cabin at Shaw’s Point with an increasing number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Winters were for travel south and to Briers.
Laurie leaves us with a huge void and many great memories. His wishes were for cremation and a private celebration of his life at a later date.
Donations would be welcomed for the Cross Cancer Institute, 11560 University Avenue, Edmonton, AB, T6G 1Z2.
Joan Delores Sawka
Joan Delores (Pur- cha) Sawka, a longtime resident of Culp, Alta., passed away April 12, 2008 in McLennan at the age of 66 years. Joan was born June 1, 1941 at Tangent, Alta. She attended the Fox Creek School at Tangent before attending Eaglesham School where she completed Grade 11. Joan married Harry Sawka June 1, 1960 and they were blessed with five children. When the children were little Joan was active in 4-H, as well as running the farm, which consisted of milking cows, putting in and harvesting the crop, planting a huge garden to feed the family and sewing. After the children were grown, Joan started working at the Girouxville Co-op, then Falher UFA where she spent 11 years. Joan also volunteered for the Smoky River Palliative Care Society for three years. Joan loved gardening, picnics, touring the Peace Country and her flowers. Grandchildren filled Joan’s life with love and laughter along with her childhood friends. In October 2007, Joan was diagnosed with terminal cancer and accepted her fate with courage and a smile. She will be sadly missed by all and forgotten by none. Joan is survived by: her husband Harry of 47 years; son Gerald Sawka of Fairview, Alta; daughter Susan Sawka of Edmonton; daughter Judy Stenhouse of Fort McMur- ray, Alta.; daughter Karen (David) Lauck of High Prairie; and daughter Cheryl (Marc) Forseille of Grande Prairie; six grandchildren who acted as honourary pallbearers including Delanie and Devon Stenhouse, Wyatt and Waylon Lauck, Cianna and Lane Forseille. She also leaves her siblings: Elizabeth Anderson of Camrose, Alta.; Harold (Jackie) Purcha of Watino, Alta; Stuart (Alice) Purcha of Watino; Beverly (Bruce) Dom- brova of Grande Prairie; Caroline Purcha of Peace River, Alta; and Sandra (Marcel) Roy of Falher, Alta. Joan was predeceased by: her father, Walter Purcha, in 1994 and her mother, Janet Purcha, in 2001. The funeral was held April 19, 2008, at 2 p.m. from the Tangent Community Hall with Pastor Dave Squires officiating. Music was by The Emersons. Interment followed at the Watino Cemetery.
Michael (Mike) Senkoe
Michael Senkoe was born Oct. 16, 1919 on a farm 15 miles south of Loyalist, Alta. to Fred and Anna Senkoe. Michael was the seventh of nine children. He had four older brothers: William, John, Stephan, and Alexander; two older sisters, Pauline and Martha; and two younger sisters, Irene and Annie. In 1921, the Senkoe family moved to a farm south of Kirriemuir, Alta. A year later in 1922, they moved again to another farm west of Altario, where there was a school and better farming land. In 1937, because of a drought and the hard times of the ‘Dirty Thirties’, the Senkoe family moved once more to homestead land in High Prairie. They brought a carload of cattle, a carload of horses and their machinery. Mike, along with his brothers John and Bill, accompanied their father in the boxcars with the animals. They settled on a bush quarter southeast of High Prairie, where they would soon build a log house and a barn. Mike farmed with his family until 1941 when he joined the army. He served with the Royal Canadian Engineers on the west coast of British Columbia at Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island until he was discharged in April 1946. While in stationed at Maryhill camp in British Columbia in 1944, Mike met a young lady named Marjorie Gilmer. On Nov. 6, 1946 Michael and Marjorie were married at St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Edmonton. They then returned to High Prairie by train and settled on the farm. During the next few years, Mike worked for neighbours and farmed his own land with four head of horses. He also kept busy clearing the brush, breaking the land, and picking the roots from the home quarter. In 1957, with the help of his brother John, Mike built the family home, where he would spend the next 50 years of his life. Mike was a farmer. He was fortunate to witness many advances over his lifetime, from using horses, steel-wheeled tractors and threshing machines, to the modern machinery we use today. He always had help from Marjorie and his young daughters, and later his grandchildren, with the farm work. There was always a fence to be fixed, water to be pumped, cows and pigs to be fed and, of course, square bales to be stacked. His ideas and practices were very traditional; he was never convinced that new farming innovations were worthy in comparison. In 1970, Mike ventured into hog production, but abandoned this idea to build the cattle herd instead. In 1973, he began driving school bus for the High Prairie School Division. He drove school bus for 12 years, first in Banana Belt, later in Enilda. Mike was a story teller, never taking himself so seriously that he couldn’t tell a funny or embarrassing one about himself. Whether it was at home or at John and Annie or Martha and Orest’s kitchen table, reminiscing about the “old” days was a favourite pastime. The stories often took on epic proportions and were filled with laughter. Mike’s closest friends were: Marjorie, his wife of 60 years; his brother John; and his sisters, Martha and Irene; and of course, his animals. Howard Greer once said that if he died, he would like to come back as one of Mike’s cows because he knew he would be well taken care of. Mike passed away on Friday, April 13, two months and two days after his wife, Marjorie. He left this world as he lived: stubbornly, with a sense of humor, plenty of conversation, giving orders, and most importantly, surrounded by his family. Mike was predeceased by: his parents, Fred and Anna Senkoe; brothers William, John, Stephan and Alexander; and his sister, Martha Basarab; infant son, Douglas Alan; infant grandson Nicholas Senkoe; and most recently, his wife, Marjorie. He is survived by: his sisters, Pauline Baker, Irene Turions and Annie Poitras; his son, Keith, and his wife Gwen; his daughter, Chris Pollack and her husband, Dwayne; his daughter, Bev Ferguson and her husband Doug; and his daughter, Pat Olansky and her husband Michael; grandchildren Ryan Ferguson, his wife Emily, Dawn Ferguson, and Shannon Ferguson; Tanner, Erin and Leslie Pollack; and Talon and Chad Olansky; along with his great-grand- children including Jacob, Kelsey, and Kaylee Ferguson; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Sheldon, Stanton Frederick
Long time resident of Kinuso, passed away at the Slave Lake Hospital on July 11, 2009 at the age of 88 years. Stan is survived by his sister Nina Kenny and her family of Surrey, B.C.; his children, Jim (Cheryl); Ken (Jean); Brian (Amanda); Deanna; Joyce; Connie (Tom); Janet (Sid) and Brenda as well as 23 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. Stan was predeceased by his wife, Elsie; parents, Fred and Lily Sheldon; brother, George and grandson, Nolan.
A service celebrating Stan’s life was held in Kinuso, July 15, 2009.
Shirley Leona O'how
1941 - 2003
Shirley Leona O'How was born on July 8, 1941 and passed away on May 31, 2003, after a long, courageous battle with cancer at the age of 61.
Shirley was the fourth child of nine born to Tom and Grace Smith in Birch Hills, Sask. She moved to High Prairie with her family in 1948 to a homestead in the Gilwood area.
Shirley met Don O'How in 1967 and they bought a homestead in the Snipe Lake area in 1968 before marrying in 1969. She worked at numerous jobs in High Prairie while raising three girls: Benita, Grace and Kathy. After the girls were grown Shirley and Don retired from farming and moved to High Prairie in 1992, then to an acreage just west of town a year and a half later where she resided with Don until her passing.
Shirley was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend who was always willing to lend a helping hand. Shirley was a strong, courageous fighter who never gave up.
Shirley is survived by: her husband Don; daughters Benita, Grace and husband Marcel, Kathy and husband Sheldon; grandchildren Jared, Rochelle and Amanda Dufour, and Tracy and Donald Lizee; sister Elaine, and brothers Henry, Frank and wife Carolann, and Don and wife Debby; sister-in-laws Vina, married to Shirley's late brother, Jim, and Jayne married to her late brother Reg; as well as numerous nieces and nephews and a large extended family.
She was predeceased by: her mother Grace in 1972; her father Tom in 1978; brothers Alfred in 1961, Reg in 1994 and Jim in 1998; sister Nina in 2000; and brother-in-laws Roger Turgeon and Bert Norman.
Shirley touched the lives of many. She will remain an inspiration and deeply missed by all who knew her.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Alberta Cancer Society.
Sister Marion Porier
Sister Marion Poirier was born on Oct. 4, 1924 and passed away on Sept. 26, 2001 at the age of 76 years.
Sister Poirier was born in the village of Hosmer, B.C. She was the fourth of seven children born to Hercule Joseph and Anne Poirier.
She entered the Sisters of Providence in Seattle, Washington in 1943 with the ambition of becoming a nurse, but God had other plans. A few weeks after graduating from high school in Calgary in 1943, Marion found herself in Seattle, to enter the novitiate of the Sisters of Providence.
"I spent many lonely days during the two years of novitiate, " she says. "My main ambition after profession was to become a nurse. When I left the novitiate, I was named for St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, to begin my nurses training in January, but God had other plans. Two months later I was called to Midnapore to help Sister Mary Damien supervise the girls.
"I enjoyed being with the children but it did come as a surprise when a few months later I was informed that I was to send my application to attend Normal School, " she says.
Sister Poirier taught in Whitehorse, Joussard and High Prairie. Her last active mission, High Prairie, was home for her from 1972-90.
"I doubted my ability to become a teacher, but God gifted me and I enjoyed 40 years teaching His children in McLennan, Whitehorse, Joussard and High Prairie, " says Sister Poirier. "I especially enjoyed my last 13 years of teaching at St. Andrew's school in High Prairie. This is where I enjoyed assisting coaching the students in hockey, basketball, volleyball and fastball. I had no problems with my students for they knew that if they did not keep up with their school work they did not participate in any sports events."
Recalling her love of sport Sister Poirier remembers playing ball at home with her brothers and sisters. In the winter it was hockey on a frozen creek with a branch for a stick and a tennis ball for a puck. She was always the goaltender.
Sister Poirier recognized early that some students, more than others, needed physical activity mixed with reading, writing and arithmetic.
"It began in Joussard where the only sport facilities were a baseball diamond and an outdoor skating rink. In the spring, I organized a house league with the help of the teachers since I was the principal. It was practical to begin with baseball. We divided grades 4-8 into six groups representing the six continents. Each group chose a continent and their work was to prepare and present a report on their respective continent...we we having fun as well as learning."
Later, when she was transferred to St. Andrew's school in High Prairie in 1974, she continued to work with young people and parents in sports.
"As I look back on the 17 years and reflect on what I did for the young people, I believe that it was all in the hands of the Lord. I felt that my religious life benefited. I reminded the boys to attend mass on Saturday night or Sunday morning. At a basketball or volleyball game, we always recited a prayer before beginning to play, not necessarily to win, but that no one would get hurt and that they would be good sports. Boys and girls all got my help."
A clipping in her file says: "Kids and sports are what Sister Marion Poirier is known for in High Prairie. The philosophy of helping out kids underscored Sister Poirier's community involvement over the years. She is especially renowned for her involvement in minor hockey and baseball, which involves both kids and parents. She also coached school basketball and volleyball, was a Cub Scout Leader, and volunteered her services at the Peace Winter Games and the University Games in Edmonton."
Sister Poirier brought joy and delight to those around her with her gentle humour, her delightful smile and love of life itself. She particularly enjoyed children and youth and found that teaching was a way to create happy memories. Although she retired from the classroom in 1989 due to ill health, Sister Poirier found herself lending a hand - and a smile - as a tutor, at the switchboard of Providence Centre, and many other hidden places.
After a stroke in 1994 Sister Poirier moved to the Infirmary at Providence Centre where her ministry became one of presence and prayer.
Through her life, Sister Poirier was known for her devotion to Venerable Emilie Gamelin and prayed to her often for counsel, compassion and a love of the poor. She wanted to love the poor as they were - this she did so very well.
Kenneth Lloyd Smith
Eulogy by Wade Morrison
Welcome everyone, and thank you for coming today. My name is Wade Morrison and I’m Ken’s nephew. Several years ago he asked me to speak on this occasion and I’m honoured to do so now. Kenneth Lloyd Smith was born Oct. 6, 1946 in High Prairie. He was the fifth of six children, and fourth son of Robert and Hazel Smith. As a boy, he was known for his curly black hair, which he would often trim himself to avoid teasing. He attended school in High Prairie, leaving school in Grade 8 to avoid reading and to work on oil rigs. I’m sure he would rather have played professional hockey. His quick temper and fast reflexes would have served him well. He worked a variety of jobs operating equipment, trucking and oil rigs, for most of his young life. On Sept. 5, 1970, Kenny married Joan Haggerty of High Prairie. Over the next few years Joan began working for the government and her job took them to live in High Level, Alta. Up north they enjoyed good times with friends, which made for lots of stories that Kenny loved to tell. This happy couple didn’t have children of their own, but were very much interested in and spent time with nieces and nephews. Kenny was known to pay handsomely for the rights to the title of “Bestest Uncle”. Sadly, on Sept. 12, 1983, Joan passed away after a battle with cancer. Ken’s dad, Bob, had also passed away five months earlier that year so Kenny stayed close and helped his mother, Hazel, after their time of loss. He began driving truck more and more for work and hauled a wide variety of loads, the least favourite being hogs by liner. He would also drive the local bus charter for seniors and he kidded Grandma that he was looking for a new husband for her. He busied himself with work and being a supportive uncle. Whether it was hockey, swimming, 4-H Achievement Says, cattle drives or just a new venture, he was sure to show interest in all the younger people of the extended family. He was always generous with his time and showed concern and shared his opinion. He cared deeply enough to disagree and could not be accused of being indifferent. Kenny’s other apparent interest was a continued fascination with the sport of rodeo. He volunteered locally and attended the Canadian Finals regularly and the National Finals when he could. He was limited to being a fan and not a participant because of his age and he preferred machine controls over damn fool horses. But he was very proud of his buckle and coat collections and loved to bring gifts for people and share stories about these events. In recent years, he had some real struggles with his health due to complications from sugar diabetes. He had been hospitalized several times and had suffered small strokes and heart damage which at times suspended his driving license. He would recover despite a negative prognosis surprising medical staff, friends and family. Kenny could often be found sharing coffee and conversation around town, or reading the paper cover to cover. On Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2007. Ken was found slumped over the steering wheel of his vehicle in town. The emergency crew and hospital staff were unable to revive him. He will be missed, by all who knew and loved him. He is survived by: his mother, Hazel, of Pleasantview Lodge in High Prairie; his sister, Joy, and her husband, Everett Morrison, of DeBolt, Alta.; his brother, Arthur Smith, and his wife, Terry, of Enilda; his sister, Colleen, and her husband, Peter Tindall, of High Prairie; as well as many nieces, nephews and grand-nieces and grand nephews. It was Kenny’s wish to be cremated and when possible to be interned with Joan, his wife. Kenny was predeceased by: his brother, Roy, in December 1974; his father, Robert, in May 1983; his wife, Joan, in September 1983; and his brother, Harald, in October 1995. One other note. Kenny often teased Trudy that for this occasion, roast horse would be on the menu, but rest assured this is an equine-free lunch!
Ron "Bear" Smith
We are gathered to celebrate, honour, remember and pay our respects to a person who has touched the lives of many. Ron Smith, better known as ‘Bear’, passed away on Jan. 9 at the age of 54 years. Ron was a big sports fan following local fastball leagues and the High Prairie Regals. He will be sadly missed by: his sisters, Bea Back of Olds, Alta., Patricia Smith of Cranbrook, B.C., Diane Coleman of Peavine, Marilyn Ford of High Prairie and Karen Smith of High Prairie; his brother, Carl Smith of High Prairie; his biological father, Peter Courtorielle; half- brothers Lester, James, Randy, Stan and Eldon; his half-sister, Glenna; plus numerous nieces and nephews; his daughters, Diane Belcourt of Edmonton and Penny Calliou of Sucker Creek; and many, many friends.
Following is the eulogy written and delivered by Kim Jaenen, niece of Fred and Arline Spendiff, for Fred Spendiff:
Fred Spendiff was born Jan. 8, 1922, to Anne and Charles Spendiff and grew up three miles north of High Prairie along with his younger brothers. These were the days and years of the Depression. Fred was schooled in High Prairie, completing Grade 12 and then continuing his education at the Vermillion School of Agriculture where he completed a two-year curriculum in one year. Fred then returned to High Prairie and helped his parents on the farm for the next two years.
A worldwide event came calling and he joined the Canadian military, specifically, the Royal Canadian Air Force. This was in 1942. He was 20 years old. Fred was trained as a radio operator. His responsibilities were to control all in and out communications in the aircraft using Morse code. He was also a mid-upper gunner when required.
In 1943, at age 21, Fred was summoned to go overseas. His first stop was Scotland, then England and Ireland, where crews were formed and more training took place. They conducted simulated training flights over Germany in preparation for the battles that lay ahead.
On Sept. 14, 1944, the practice drills became a reality. He was now part of Squadron No. 428, the ‘Ghost Squadron’. From Sept. 15, 1944 through to March 25, 1945, he participated in a tour of 34 bombing missions, fighting for our freedom.
When Fred returned to Canada, he was given three choices: go to Japan, become an instructor or request a discharge. Fred expressed he wanted to go to the U.S.A. to meet some of his father’s relatives. His commanding officer suggested he request a discharge because the discharge would take awhile, thus giving him the opportunity to go south as he had wanted. When he returned to Canada from the U.S., he decided he would continue in the Air Force and requested he be sent to Japan. He was advised that the war was almost over and it was recommended he stick to his original decision and take the discharge. This meeting took place on Aug. 4 or Aug. 5, 1945. On Aug. 6, 1945, the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Once out of the Air Force, Fred first worked in Edmonton and later drove a fuel truck for the B.A. dealer in High Prairie. After purchasing a quarter section of land through the D.V.A., he farmed in the summer and worked in the oilpatch in the winter. In 1954, he started his own trucking company, Spendiff Transport, which he incorporated in 1964. He rented the upstairs of the Bell Transport building, eventually purchasing it. In 1980, he built a new shop just east of town which is now known as Grimshaw Trucking.
Mary Kowalchuk was a long-standing employee, remaining with him until he sold his company in February 1989. She was employed by him for 25 years. It was a great pleasure to speak and meet with a couple of his former staff and they had this to say:
“Fred was funny, gentle, and soft spoken but don’t make him mad. You always knew you did wrong when you saw that infamous facial expression and the finger going up and down as he pointed at you to emphasize what he was saying!”
Another comment expressed was “he was fair, generous and honest.”
Warren Stout, a long-time former employee, shared a story about the time he and my Dad, Ken Babkirk, who worked for Fred in Edmonton, decided to get into a case of wine that was being shipped to High Prairie for delivery to the Catholic Church. They each consumed a bottle, put the empties back into the case and on to High Prairie it went! The wine was delivered and it wasn’t too long after this that Fred received a call from the priest expressing his case of wine had two empty bottles in it. Fred spoke to Warren and Dad and, of course, they denied their involvement but Fred knew better and he reduced their paychecks by the cost of the wine. Honesty must prevail!
Fred hauled for all the associations, organizations, and non-profit groups and hauled animals for the 4-H events around the Peace Country for free. It was his way of supporting his community and giving back. One Christmas Eve, when the Spaulding Hotel burnt down, Fred, as a firefighter, stayed there all night and Christmas Day, in -30 weather, looking after the fire.
Fred has been very instrumental in this community. His involvement was second to none. He took part in the Legion, Elks, High Prairie Minor Hockey, Marigold, Chamber of Commerce, High Prairie Fire Department and the Walleye Association. He wasn’t just involved. He was dedicated.
Marg Jacobsen, a former High Prairie school teacher, said he was one of the finest men she has ever known. She shared how most of us, when hearing about someone’s troubles, might call and offer our services.
Not Fred! He would attend in person and ask what he could do to help.
She also recalled the countless times she heard her students mention Fred’s name for helping them with hockey or the purchase of new equipment.
Years later, High Prairie honoured Fred with a dinner where they presented him with a No. 25 jersey and other gifts. Also, a scholarship fund was collected from local organizations and presented to Fred at the dinner the Fred Spendiff Scholarship was born. For this recognition, Fred was always appreciative that High Prairie gave so much to him.
Fred became interested and involved in organized hockey when the new arena was built. First he managed the Regals, then the juniors with Frank Pratt, and finally, the midgets with Duff Pratt. These hockey kids were like his own. He insisted he see each and every one of their report cards. If they hadn’t kept up with their marks there would be no ice time. Fred drove the boys to and from games and they all loved him for it. He was like a surrogate parent, if you will.
Maxine and Morley Favine, Fred’s sister-in-law and her husband, remember that on every Thanksgiving or Christmas Uncle Fred and Aunt Arline spent in Arizona, Fred would be down at the homeless shelters donating turkeys and oranges. On Boxing Day, he shopped for boxes of Christmas lights which he brought back to the Town of High Prairie for decorating the following year. He loved decorating for Christmas; it was his favourite time of the year.
At the age of fifty, in 1972, Fred married Aunt Arline and had an instant family of four: Mickey, Lois, Gene and Ron. The first three children were grown and on their own at this time. Ron and Aunt Arline joined Fred to live in High Prairie, following the marriage.
After Fred retired in 1989, Arline and Fred spent many winters in Arizona and later, in Kelowna. Fred kept active with the Legion, Elks and the Truckers Association until a couple of years ago when his health kept him from participating. He found great joy with his granddaughter, Jordan Elko. She had him wrapped around her little finger. He loved to play games and do whatever Jordan requested of him. She brought so much joy to his life.
Fred will be remembered by all who knew him as a loving husband, father, grandfather and a man who gave so much to this community. May his legacy live on forever!
Stephen Senko, long time resident of High Prairie, passed away on Aug. 2, 2002 in High Prairie Regional Health Complex at the age of 89.
Stephen was born on Feb. 7, 1913 in Wiste Alberta.
As an adult he was a heavy equipment operator with Alberta's Department of Highways until his retirement in February, 1978.
He was pre-deceased by his mother Hanna; brothers William, John and Alex and sister Martha.
Stephen is survived by his wife Julie Senko of High Prairie; daughter Sarah Senko of Edmonton and son David Senko of Camrose.
As per Stephen's wishes no funeral services were held.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the palliative care unit of High Prairie Health Complex.