John Stefanyshyn was born in a small farming village in the Ukraine on April 12, 1925 and died in the small community of Clearwater, BC on January 27, 2014.
As the son of a resourceful farmer, surviving the Ukrainian Famine, the German labour camps and being a displaced person, Dad’s optimism, practicality and sense of humour shone through and made him the man we love. John loved gathering … firewood, lumber for “projects”, garden harvests, mushrooms, berries, fish, languages, family and friends. Dad loved gatherings and making connections with people – family, friends, neighbours, co-workers, people he would meet while travelling – wherever there was singing, dancing, stories and jokes to be told. He especially loved travelling by train across Canada, the perfect venue for a gathering. Later in life he became a Jehovah’s Witness and enjoyed going door to door, another way to connect with people. Dad loved to be on the move – he lived in the Ukraine, Germany, England, Ontario and BC. He travelled across Canada many times, visited England, a few excursions into the US and in his mind travelled the world.
John was a carpenter who could build a house from the basement to the rafters, plumb and wire it. He built four homes and gave opinions on at least three more being built by his children. All this house building took place while working full-time, helping raise four active children, growing the best cabbage and making the best sauerkraut in the world. Helped of course by his wife and mother of their children, a lively, laughing, determined, red head from Yorkshire England named Joyce (Smith if you can believe it). Dad could do just about any job he set his mind to. He was a farmer, bricklayer, worked in the wool mills of Northern England, the steel mills in Hamilton and then the forest industry called and Dad was carpenter in residence with Weyerhaueser until his retirement.
John was a musician and had a beautiful singing voice. He would pick up any instrument and give it a whirl, his and our favourite being the harmonica. We won’t talk about the ill-fated attempt at playing the trumpet! Dad loved to laugh and he loved his family. He made sure we knew how much.
We will miss our father and husband very much. He reluctantly leaves behind his much loved wife Yvonne and his children Susan and her son and Dad’s favourite grandson Dylan (has his grandmother’s red hair), daughter Helen and Dave, son Danny and Penny his busy little bee and his daughter-in-law Arlene (Jean) Beausoliel. John had a soft spot in his heart for two other red heads, Yvonne’s daughters Bernadette and Marie (deceased). He also enjoyed the company of Yvonne’s children, Dave, Sam, Ruby, Susan and Joe. We believe Dad will join those who went before him – first wife Joyce, infant twin sons, son Michael, his father Omelan, mother Yrena, stepmom Maria, brothers Wasyl, Stephan, Walter, sister Anna, all Joyce’s siblings and many friends … it will be a good noisy gathering.
Dad’s last few years were livened by his time at Forest View Residential Care. We would like to thank the angels there and the ever patient Dr. John Soles for looking after our Poppa John, listening to his stories, his singing, harmonica playing and giving him hugs when he needed them. Your care kept him safe and gave us the extra time we needed to spend appreciating Dad. In memory of John, sing your favourite song, hug your favourite person or tell a really long story that has no end.
A Memorial Service was held for John Stefanyshyn at the Kingdom Hall in Clearwater, BC, on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.NorthThompsonFuneral.com.