Dec. 2, 1932-Jan. 15, 2018
Elsie May Tkach passed away at the Coronation Hospital and Care Centre on Monday, January 15, 2018 at the age of 85 years.
A Memorial Service was held at the Veteran Community Hall, Veteran, Alberta on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. with Pastor Darrel Durksen officiating. The processional hymn was "In The Garden" and the recorded hymn during the service was "Just A Closer Walk With Thee", longtime friend Mary Readman gave a loving tribute, Granddaughter Candice Preston shared the eulogy and memories; grandson Garrett Schacher read 2 poems. Granddaughter Ashley Duncan made the video presentation and the special recessional song was "Walk Through This World With Me". Honorary Pallbearers were "All of Elsie's Family and Dear Friends". The Interment followed the service at the Veteran Cemetery. The luncheon was held immediately following the interment prepared and served by the Veteran United Church Ladies and the Talbot Homemakers. Memorial Donations may be made to the the Alberta Diabetes Foundation or to a charity of the donor's choice.
Heather Caseley, Funeral Director of Coronation Funeral Home, Coronation, Alberta was entrusted with the care and funeral arrangements. Condolences can be forwarded to the family by visiting our website at www.coronationfuneralhome.ca
• Greg (Vi) Tkach, Veteran
Chris (Jing) and Chloe
Tkach of Taiwan
Curtis Tkach, Lethbridge
• Dwayne's daughter -
Brandi Tkach (Matt
Lavigne) and Nolan of
• Terry (Robert) Preston
Jennifer Preston (Justin
Jarhl) of Edmonton
Candice Preston (Andrew
Felczak) of Edmonton
• Joanne (Wes) Sieger of
Misty (Conrad) Schacher
of Grande Cache
- Garrett Schacher
(Kayla Studley) of
- Makenna Schacher
(Nick McMordie) and
of Grande Cache
- Makenzie Schacher
of Grande Cache
Robyn Sieger (Jeff
Lowe) - Shayla, Tacey,
Mylee of Calgary
Logan Sieger (Kelsey
Glazier) - Brooklyn,
Seth, Jayda, Deken of
Ashley (Dustin) Duncan
- Cienna, Elise of
• Lory "Schultz" Tkach of
Predeceased by her husband Arlos, sons Dwayne and Pat "Fudd".
Presented by Candice Preston
Elsie May Tkach, Gramma, was born to Clifford and Esther Dewolfe in Consort on December 2, 1932. She was the youngest of seven and is predeceased by all her siblings: Helen, Ralph, Walter, Alfred, Clayton and Clifford. Her Mother passed away when she was only 2 and so Helen, her older sister, became the only mother she knew. But Helen left home when Grandma was only 6 years old, leaving her with a houseful of boys. She spent her young life on a farm about 6 miles northeast of Consort. She started her schooling at Whitten School which was about 1½ miles from home, then traveled to the big school in Consort, learning there until she was 16.
Her favorite thing was following her Dad outside. Even though there were 5 boys already, he used to call her Dick; she was his shadow, enjoying life outside. She loved the horses and would sit out among them. Being only 4 at this time, she had no fear and the horses loved her visits.
Their home was nothing but a tar paper shack with buildings built on as needed. Water came from a spring, or the well behind the house, having to be carried in.
There was a time when she and Uncle Clifford, being the only children at home, had gone barefoot all summer. When it became time to go to school, a note was sent home that said they had to have shoes or could not attend. The teacher was kind enough to still let them attend and wait until her dad could afford to buy a pair for them both.
She also remembered a year when the school was having a Christmas Concert and all the kids were talking about Santa Claus. Since her Mother passed away within the Christmas holidays they were never really celebrated or spoken of. But this year, on Christmas Eve, her Dad told Clifford and her to put a stocking up on the clothes line, maybe Santa would come. When going downstairs the next morning the stockings were filled to the top with candies and treats, she remembered screaming “He came, He Came, He Came”. It was 1938 and that was the first year they had celebrated Christmas since her Mother passed away.
Summer would come and Dick would be the go girl - go for the horses, go for the cows, go chase the pigs. Go, go, go. Her Dad was a very hard taskmaster and was not one to spare the rod. She would help him move cattle to town to sell. One time they rounded up the herd - about 20 cows - and drove them all into town. After they cut out one or two, he helped her cross the highway and then left her to bring the rest of them home by herself. She got 3 miles from home, at this point its pitch black, the cows are hungry and thirsty and she couldn’t get them to move any further, so she left them and went home. By the time she got there everyone else was in bed, and she went crying into the house.
At the age of 10, she would come home from school to do the morning dishes and daily chores. Saturday’s were always for mixing bread and sometimes washing clothes. The washing was done in a big tub, you would have a plunger that you pounded the clothes with then you’d put them through a hand wringer, rinse them, then through the hand wringer again. There were a lot of sweat and tears put into this operation.
There was a time when her sister Helen sent a parcel from Calgary with a note saying “do not open till Christmas.” Being home alone a lot, she decided to open it carefully and rewrap it. Inside she found the most beautiful doll she had ever seen and fell in love, but when she was rewrapping it a letter had slipped out and her Dad found it the next morning. Realizing what she had done, he made her take the beautiful doll to the neighbor kids. There was a time when she ran away and stayed the night with the neighbors and she had found her doll torn to pieces.
When she was about 11, she had a satiny blue dress that she wore for years, it was the only one she owned. For the Christmas Concert she had washed it and was pressing it with the old sad iron and managed to burn a hole in it. With tears she told her teacher what happened and that she couldn’t be in the concert, but the teacher insisted that she come and her Dad actually took the dress and said he would see if Mrs. Polson could mend it. The cattle never got fed that morning because he took the team and sleigh and drove to Polsons to get the dress fixed. And, well, the patch certainly didn’t match. While waiting, Gramma received a call at home. It was Mrs. Tainsh saying her Dad was coming from town but he couldn’t find her a dress, so Mrs. Tainsh was making her one and did she want pink or green. At this point she didn’t know that Mrs. Tainsh had torn her own dress apart to make her one and the teacher had rearranged the program to put Gramma on later.
When she saw her Dad, he had a box with a lovely green dress and she was so happy. On she went to the concert and sang Whispering Hope; there were tears in her Dad’s eyes and he was not the only one. When she thought of how many miles her Dad drove that day and the kindness of two wonderful ladies she then realized that her Dad kinda liked his little girl.
At 16 she quit school and answered an ad she found in the paper asking for a girl at Merritt Webb’s in Veteran. Never having any experience with children she was shocked to find twin 5-year-old boys, a one-year-old boy and a very pregnant Mother. She came to love those bratty twins, wee Dougie and baby Cheryl.
This is the time when she met the love of her life, Arlos Tkach. He was one of Merritt’s neighbors. They were married September 11, 1951 in Consort and from this union came 6 beautiful children: Greg, Dwayne, Terry, Joanne, Pat “Fudd”, and Lory “Shultz”.
They lived in Consort, then moved to a farm south of Veteran. My Mom recalls when Gramma was raising turkeys, chickens, and pigs. The kids would help slaughter, pluck and clean the turkeys, then everyone would pile in the Chevy 2 and peddle turkeys around the area before Christmas.
She remembers going to the Coronation Auction Mart where Gramma bought two small calves. But she didn’t think about how they were going to get them home. The calves were loaded in the back seat with the kids holding them down till they got back to the farm.
Gramma worked all her life - the kitchen in the nursing home, a waitress, a cook, a store manager, a barmaid, even as a printer at the Consort Enterprise where she worked with her dear friend, Mary Readman.
Gramma was a little league baseball coach hauling kids around to all the games, a bookkeeper for Jim Slater, worked in the greenhouse for Wilma Slater, and spent time with Kory Krotesch in a butcher shop, and owned her own store.
Although being very well read Gramma didn’t graduate. So gramma, my mom and dad (Robert and Terry) decided to get their GED’s. They went to write the exam in Castor, time passes and she proclaims she was finished and heads out, gravel flying from the tires on her way. Turns out she was in too much of a hurry to finish so she failed to follow the essay instructions, did not write a draft and did not pass her GED. Her reasoning why she finished so quickly and skipped the steps - she would have missed BINGO!
She also loved bowling, and has a 300 game to her credit; as well as bonspieling; knitting; and was a Legion Member in Consort.
She was a world traveler and loved it ever so much. She’d been all over Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Great Britian, the Mediterranean, China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Panama Canal, Israel - Bethlehem. It was during her trip to the Holy Land when Grandpa Arlos passed away and the travel bug was lost a little.
After Grandpa’s passing Gramma moved into King Court in Coronation where she remained until her passing.
Gramma always said she had a good life with no regrets. Her love and caring way was evident by all the people she helped. She loved to visit and spent a lot of time going to Bingo with Aunty Jo all over the country and visiting casinos. Her days at home were spent reading, resting and watching TV. She was very content with her life.
She managed to stay in her home because of so many people willing to help out: friends, relatives, family and home care. She had a dear neighbor down the hall, Anne Lakusta. Anne would always check on her, feed her, and just be there for her. We, as a family, would like to say a special thanks to Anne for her thoughtfulness toward Gramma.
In the mornings she would have home care come in. Anne came for coffee and would sometimes stop after dinner. Auntie Jo also stopped in whenever she was working, stopping to shop, get the mail, play nickels or take her to play Bingo. We all stopped when we could.
She was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, and great mother-in-law. And most of all a best friend to all in her family.
She made a point of keeping in touch with her grandchildren. She was there for us when we couldn’t talk to our parents, or buy cigarettes. She always listened without judgement and always tried to solve our problems.
She never wanted to be considered one of those old ladies and was still sharp as a tack with a frisky side to match.
I’ll leave you with this final story.
When she first moved into the manor you could still smoke in your rooms, some of the other residents were non-smokers and did not like it very much. Betty Orbeck, who lived down the hall and would come over to visit, came out into the hall one day to see Gramma on her hands and knees in front of a non-smoker’s room. Betty asked her what she was doing. She told her, “Shut up and get down here.” There they were, two senior ladies blowing smoke under the non-smoker’s door.
We all loved that woman as much as anyone could, she will be missed by so many and has left a deep hole in our hearts. Today we cry for the loss of an amazing lady, but we will always remember her with a smile. I know she will always be an angel on our shoulders still taking care of us. Whenever she started a new journey she would say a little prayer. May we all remember and say to ourselves before all our journeys - GIVE US A GOOD DAY DEAR LORD!
Letter from Chris
I am sorry I can't be there today as Taiwan is just so far away. Nevertheless my thoughts are with Gramma and all of you. I would have so liked to be there with everyone to help celebrate Gramma's life and hear all the wonderful stories of good times.
It is ironic, that it is because of my Gramma that I can't be with you all today. You see it was ten years ago that I brought my future wife Jing, to Canada for a visit, and while we were there we spent an afternoon at Gramma's over the Christmas break. We laughed and talked for hours drinking tea and coffee. Gramma told so many stories about the cousins and the family. Even getting Jing to sing Christmas songs. We had such a great time. As we were leaving Gramma hugged me and told me she is a keeper and to marry her. So I did.
And now when I look at my beautiful daughter I remember that afternoon and thank my stars for Gramma and that day.
I will miss you Gramma but I will never forget you.
Love Chris, Jing and
by Mary Readman
There's a little embroidered change purse, full of nickels, that won't be getting used again, for this Monday morning I got the word that my lifelong friend, Elsie, the gal I've played cards with these many years, has passed away. I'm grateful that we had a few hands of cards together, not long ago. She was still at home, although her health had been deteriorating for some time. It broke my heart to see what was happening to her, but there's a saying, "old age ain't for sissies", and she certainly was no sissy. She'd had a hard life; her mother passed away when she was two and she was raised by an older sister along with her dad and a family of boys. They were poor - we all were back then. Elsie was born December 2nd, 1932 and we celebrated her 85th birthday this past December with friends gathering for open house and tea hosted by the family.
We first met as young girls at the School of Community Life camp at Gooseberry Lake. We were about eight years of age and a lifetime friendship was born. Later, we attended grade nine at Consort School and it was during that fall that we became involved in a car accident when she ‘borrowed' her dad's old 1938 Model B Ford. She rolled it just north of the Marion Kelts farm and I still bear the scar.
We learned how to hand-set type at the Enterprise, the weekly newspaper in Consort. Her uncle, Wilburn DeWolfe, had operated this business since 1916, taking over from his sister, Mabel. Elsie and her brother, Clifford, both set type for Wilburn and when I started, just after his passing, in January of 1950, I was again in Elsie's company. We were young girls - teenagers full of life and likely to burst forth in giggles - something that stayed with us through the years, as we shared the same sense of humor. A few years later, I was her bridesmaid, when she and Arlos Tkach married. Her dad had once told her that she would have a large family - he saw this in an omen when she dipped right to the bottom of the soup pot. He took that as a sign and she did, indeed, have a large family. Four boys and two girls were raised by Arlos and Elsie and even though sometimes life was hard, those kids were raised in a happy, close family, and I was honored to be close to them, too.
Elsie and I remained close friends - she was the nearest thing I had to a sister - and during the years, Bill and I, along with Arlos and Elsie, travelled together; sometimes big trips and sometimes just to a dance - and we played cards, lots of cards. It became a tradition that on Boxing Day, we would go to their home at Veteran, for games, eating up the leftovers and visiting. After our men passed away, Elsie and I continued traveling together, going overseas or on a cruise, until her health curtailed her. She loved Bingo and spent many years coming to Consort every Wednesday to the Lions Bingo. She has been a resident of Coronation for some years and I was often there to visit and play cards.
She cared so much for people and was always ready to help wherever she could. One birthday, I was especially upset, so she came here, picked me up and took me to Edmonton, to a Casino, where she even found a little piece of cake for me to celebrate with. A few years ago, as we aged and our health began to falter, we talked about it - talked about life and death and that one of us would go before the other, but in the meantime, we would stick together - two old women, sharing life's problems and joys, and understanding how we felt about things, with a deeper understanding than young folk might have. There are so many memories from these long years together. I will miss her dreadfully, but take comfort in knowing she is again with her beloved Arlos and the two sons, who preceded her. You've earned your rest, old friend. The following poem says it all.
Should you go first and
To walk the road alone,
I'll live in memory's garden, dear,
With happy days we've known.
In spring I'll wait for roses red,
When fades the lilac blue,
In early fall when brown leaves call
I'll catch a glimpse of you.
Should you go first and
For battles to be fought,
Each thing you've touched along the way
Will be a hallowed spot.
I'll hear your voice,
I'll see your smile,
Though blindly I may grope,
The memory of your
Will buoy me on with hope.
Should you go first and
To finish with the scroll,
No length'ning shadows shall creep in
To make this life seem
We've known so much of happiness,
We've had our cup of joy,
And memory is one gift of God
That death cannot destroy.
Should you go first and
One thing I'd have you do:
Walk slowly down that long, lone path,
For soon I'll follow you.
I'll want to know each step you take
That I may walk the same,
For some day down that lonely road
You'll hear me call your name.
Card of Thanks
The Tkach family wish to thank the following for all their thoughtfulness and caring during the recent loss of our Mother.
Heather Caseley for her guidance in our arrangements for the day; Darrel Durksen for kind words and being with the family; Mary Readman for her thoughts of our Mother; the Veteran United Church Ladies and the Talbot Homemakers for the delicious and plentiful lunch.
Your thoughts, prayers and words of sympathy were greatly appreciated.
It's great to belong to a small and close community.
Greg, Terry, Joanne, "Schultz" Lory Tkach
Sept. 27, 1925-Jan. 16, 2018
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved father, Alexander “Alex” Deleff at the age of 92 years.
Alex will be lovingly remembered by daughters, Lorna Deleff and Elaine (Behrooz) Tahririha; grandchildren, Patti, Romez, Derek, Holly, Theo; and great grandson, Avery. He will also be fondly remembered by his sister, Lillian; and brother, Marin; as well as numerous nephews, nieces, extended family and friends.
He was predeceased by his parents, Odoria and Dimo Deleff; wife, Jennie; siblings and in-laws, Vasil and Dorothy Deleff, Harry and Jean Deleff, Eddie and Shirley Deleff, Isabelle Deleff, Helen and Alex Murray, and Charlie Jarrett, as well as nephews, Leslie Jarrett, Kenneth and Bruce Deleff; and niece, Marie Fookes.
A special thank you to the staff of Citadel Care Center who lovingly provided comfort, care and happiness to Alex during the last years of his life.
Father, brother, uncle, friend gentle, humorous, imaginative teacher, artist, scholar ever resourceful and optimistic Alex’s legacy lives on in our hearts.
A celebration of Alex’s life was held at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 23rd, St. Albert Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home, 9 Muir Drive, St. Albert, Alberta.
Deborah "Debbie" Aline Letniak
Sept. 23, 1952 - Jan. 6, 2018
Debbie Letniak was born to Franz and Doris Siemsen on September 23, 1952 in Sandpoint, ID. Two years later she was joined by a sister Patti, and when Debbie was 9 and 12 years old Don and Dave entered and completed the family. As the eldest Debbie was most often the leader and kept the children going from adventure to adventure.
Debbie went to Sandpoint Jr Academy, then attended Upper Columbia Academy from 1968-1970 after which she left home to attend Walla Walla College in College Place, WA. She pursued a degree in education. Debbie was a student missionary in Sierra Leone, Africa from ’72-73. She came back to Walla Walla and finished her teaching degree where she met the love of her life, Lawrence Letniak. On June 29, 1975 the couple exchanged vows in Sandpoint, ID. Adventure and challenges never deterred Debbie and the newly-weds began their first year of married life in Zimbabwe, Africa where they both taught school.
After their year of missions was over, they came back to the Alberta prairie lands, where she embraced farm life with the same vim and vigor that she did everything. She taught at Veteran School from ’76-82.
On March 9 of 1981 Debbie and Lawrence welcomed Ryan Lawrence and twenty-three months later, on February 11, Jodi Aline was born. When it came time for the children to go to school it only seemed natural that Debbie would teach them at least for the first few formative years.
In 1991 she returned to the workforce and spread her joy and enthusiasm for education throughout the community. She worked at various schools in the community as a teacher and speech therapist assistant. In January 2009 she became the principal of Veteran School. She was a dynamic, passionate, and energetic educator and administrator. Throughout her life Debbie served her church, community, and educational system on several boards and committees. She always looked at the needs of the children as her foremost concern. Mamawi Atosketan Native School in Ponoka, AB was close to her heart. She raised funds, served on the board, and brought in motivational speakers for the students. She retired from teaching in July of 2015 in a conscious effort to spend her time with family and friends. At her core, she loved adventure and enjoyed including others.
The last 18 months were challenging and emotional as she fought against a glioblastoma but Debbie drew strength from her Creator. Debbie’s zest and zeal for life didn’t stop with her diagnosis. You never found her disheartened or discouraged. She filled her life with positivity and thankfulness. Family and friends drew closer than ever. Love and support never wavered. She was a friend of Jesus, our Savior, so she lived and died with the promise that she would be part of the resurrection when Jesus comes again. We can’t wait to see her again.
Debbie Letniak is survived by her loving husband Lawrence Letniak, son Ryan (Trina) Letniak of Edmonton, AB, daughter Jodi (Marvin) Primero and grandchildren Chloe (6) and Braden (4) of Burleson, TX. One sister Patti (Steve) Schultz of Post Falls, ID; Brothers Don (Cyndie) Siemsen of Tillamook, OR and Dave (Sue) Siemsen of Newport, WA. Brother-in-law Ron (Connie) Letniak of Consort, AB; Sisters-in-law Darlene (Paul) Karmy of Burleson, TX and Ellen (Bob) Bell of Lacombe, AB. Ten nephews and six nieces. She was preceded in death by her parents Franz and Doris Siemsen and parents-in-law James and Marie Letniak.
The Letniak family would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who have shared comfort and encouragement with us during this time of loss.
A Memorial Service to honor Debbie was held on Saturday, January 27, 2018 at the Full Gospel Church, Veteran, Alberta at 2:00 p.m. Lunch followed immediately after the service at the Veteran Community Hall. The Interment took place at Lake Road Cemetery, Consort, AB. Memorial donations can be made to Mamawi Atosketan Native School in Ponoka, AB or to STARS.
Heather Caseley, Funeral Director of Coronation Funeral Home was entrusted with the care and funeral arrangements. Condolences can be forwarded to the family by visiting our website at www.coronationfuneralhome.ca.
Family Tribute for our Sister, Debbie Letniak
Presented by Patti Schultz
Many of you here knew Debbie as Debbie Letniak or Mrs. Letniak. I knew her as my older sister, Sis, best friend and confidant, encourager, and leader.
I find it difficult to believe why we are here….to honor our sister at her memorial service. But here we are. I am pleased to tell you a little about the Debbie her family knew and loved.
Debbie was born just 27 months ahead of me. I’m told she was delighted to see me - although I am sure that initial excitement lost some of its shine as I grew up to be the little sister who wanted so badly to do everything my sister could do and go everywhere she went.
We grew up in north Idaho, in the small town of Sandpoint, nestled between the mountains and the lake.
When she was in the first grade she would come home excited to show me what she had learned and she would sit me down and teach me to read…so I was reading long before I entered the 1st grade…in fact that year they just put me into the 2nd grade because of the good teacher I had already had. She was putting into place her excellence in teaching at the early age of 6.
And she kept teaching me. She taught me that life is more fun when you make it an adventure. She was always searching for adventure. I didn’t seek it like she did - but she made sure I experienced it.
She loved horses. She always wanted to ride. We rode horses over mountains, through the woods, we swam them in the lake. We were just talking a few weeks ago how we rode them over a long railway trestle! So maybe not the best adventure choice, but it does give good memories if you survive it! She loved building family memories.
Our brother Don, who by the way, is alive today because Debbie saved his life. She breathed life into his small 2 year old body after a near drowning when she was only 11 years old. He has a memory with Debbie and the horses. One of his earliest and fondest was when Debbie took him up to the barn to watch a foal being born. Debbie and Don were lying in the rafters watching her mare give birth and once the colt was born Debbie said “He is yours,” and then they got down to meet the colt and named him Sheikie-Boy. Debbie had just created another sibling with a love for horses.
Having a sister and two younger brothers always gave her someone with whom she could entice to have fun with…it might be the horse ride, motorcycles, water or snow skiing, hiking, biking, or camping. We Siemsen children were extremely blessed to have parents who provided the opportunity and encouraged the family fun together.
And our brother Dave remembers that he always gained energy from being around Debbie. She never stopped moving or having wonderful ideas. She always wanted to have an adventure. And you know what, they always did. When you were with Debbie, boredom did not exist.
Debbie had a heart for others. I think many of you here today knew that part of Debbie too. After her freshman year at college, she signed up to be a student missionary to Africa for the following school term. She taught English there and fell in love with her students. Debbie always had the ability to adapt to any culture and make it her own.
Our parents, along with Don and Dave, went to Africa to visit Debbie while she was there. Don, about 10 at the time, remembers when Debbie and he were walking around the open air market and she allowed him to get a baby crocodile. I am sure no one took the time to ask our mom! But Don was so excited while walking back, proud owner of a baby croc. Once home the people Debbie was staying with took the baby croc and flushed him down the toilet. Don stood just starring. What did they do that for? But that’s what they did there. They flush baby crocs into the sewer system to take care of less desirable pests. But she had gotten him one because she thought it would be so exciting for him to have it, short lived as it was.
When it came time for Debbie to return from Africa, she toured for two weeks all the way home, sometimes with other youth, much of it by herself - frightening our parents and canceling their sleep. She didn’t know she was, but I heard their worried talking. Young 19 year old - traveling as long as she could afford the time to see as much of the world as she could.
Debbie and I depleted our parents’ energy and sanity by graduating at a week apart and a few weeks later having our weddings just a mere 5 weeks apart - outdoors on the home lawn we grew up on at the lake we loved.
And then - Lawrence whisked her off to Alberta!
We got together as much as we could - at our childhood home in Sandpoint, at various ski mountains to ski together as our families grew, numerous camping trips, lots of bike rides. Many of them right in the midst of the beauty Canada offers.
I have always been impressed at how well Debbie adjusted here. It’s a lot different here from home. She once again used her skills to adapt and make this place, this country, part of her. It was an adjustment to farm life and I might add, the cold winter weather, but I never heard her complain. It was all just part of the adventure of living here. Talk about adapting and working with what you have - she even drove around the pastures on the four wheeler, collected perfect cow pies, dried them, treated them with coats of sealing spray, and turned them into clocks. There is actually one hanging on a wall in my parent’s house!
She became quite the gardener and sold produce (I seem to remember that growing up she had quite an aversion to gardening, especially weeding) but here, she came to love it. She even started her own greenhouse business. She impressed and inspired me. I was incredibly proud of her.
We loved hearing about her teaching experiences. She had a special connection to David because he is an educator as well. He’s a little jealous of the school staff here that Debbie was privileged to work with. Jealous in an admiring way because they got to work with and spend time with her professionally. Dave believes that he is the teacher he is today because of their endless talks about motivating students and creating units or lessons that meant something to the kids. They would run ideas off of each other and plan out how they would accomplish these tasks. True to Debbie’s style, this was often done while paddling in a canoe, paddle boarding, long car rides, or riding a chair lift.
Our kids often thought of Debbie as “second mom”. We saw that she was a life lesson teacher to not only her students but to our children too. They would love coming up to the farm and spending endless hours riding horses, racing around on the four wheelers, driving the combines with Lawrence, working in her garden and picking the produce. Our families all cherish the memories of our trips to the farm.
So the Debbie we knew and the Debbie you likely knew was one who never backed away from a challenge. She chose the more adventurous route….
Did you know that she even hiked Angels' Landing in Zion National Park less than 2 years ago? They advertise it “as not for the faint of heart!” They might as well have put a sign up saying “Debbie will be here!” So she trained, ate well, exercised for weeks to make sure she had the stamina to make the trip. The trail is strenuous and steep with several drop-offs where they actually put chain ropes along the way. These are there so you have something to hold onto so you won’t plummet off the cliff!
But she did not choose the adventure trail that happened next. About 3 months after her hiking feat, she drove the 10 hours to Sandpoint to spend the 4th of July with our mother. In a swirl of events that happened next, she was hit - we all were - with the devastating diagnosis that she had a non-operable glioblastoma. Devastating. In her words after her doctor’s appointment, “just the worst possible news.”
So family rallied. Friends did too. We were all determined that we would do whatever we could to build her up, to make it better somehow, to get the best possible outcome.
She never had backed away from a challenge - and she did not back away from this one either. She gave us all notice that “negativity or despair” was not allowed - for that does not move us toward healing. She took on the challenge to do what she could do to fight this tumor with the prescribed radiation and chemo, to adopt an even healthier diet - she claimed to love all the different foods we fixed for her - exercise, positive thinking, gratefulness without complaining, but most of all, her faith in God. And it gave her 18 months - many more months than the doctors said would be hers to live. And most of these months gave her quality life - a different quality than she’d had of course, but it gave her time with family and friends where she remained as active as she could. We are so thankful for this time. She was even able to hike several miles for the 1-year-survival celebration hike last summer.
Debbie lived her life as a teacher - beginning at the tender age of 6….and she lived the last months of her life teaching us still. She taught us about gratitude which casts out despair. She taught us about faith which helps bring peace in the fear. She taught us about being strong when the body grows weaker. She taught us about caring about others when you yourself are trying to survive. She taught us that when the realization and disappointment hits that the glioblastoma is going to win, that in the end….it does not. Because one day, there will be a healing and a renewing when Jesus comes to take us home. She believed this with all her heart and as a friend of Jesus - she knew and claimed the promise from her Savior.
We were so very fortunate to be part of a family that was close growing up, stayed close as we grew our own families, and came together so tightly as Debbie fought this invasion on her health. Debbie left us much too soon and we can’t imagine moving forward without her. Yet we are thankful, that to a great extent because of her, we have wonderful and amazing memories - memories that keep her always in our heart. We can’t wait to see you again, Debbie!
Presented by Jerri Perrin
Many of you knew her as Debbie. But at school she was Mrs. Letniak, or as one young student called her, Auntie Letniak.
Through the years, Mrs. Letniak was involved with Veteran School in many capacities: as a teacher, a parent, a substitute teacher, a speech therapy assistant, again as a teacher, a principal and in the past 2 ½ years, a visitor arriving with a huge smile and a basketfull of muffins.
As well as her years teaching in Veteran, Mrs. Letniak taught in Africa, Brownfield and Coronation. She had experience at a variety of grade levels and didn’t shy away from unusual assignments. At one time she taught ECS and Jr. High Foods on the same days. She would gracefully sail into the school with a small kitchen appliance tucked under her arm, a bag of frozen apples from her own tree and miscellaneous items to enhance a kindergarten lesson. Each morning, her bright smile was accompanied by a cheery “Good Morning” with heavy emphasis on GOOD. That is how she approached every situation, finding the good and making it better.
Mrs. Letniak held high expectations for her students. She encouraged them to behave and work in a manner which would make them proud of themselves. She celebrated their accomplishments and consoled them through disappointments. She viewed lack of success as the first step to finding an alternate plan, not failure.
When a student or staff member talked to her, she listened, without rushing to judgement or interrupting with a solution. She was a strong advocate for students and respectful of staff members. As a principal, she saw herself as an equal on a team. When necessary, she was willing to make difficult decisions and take ownership of consequences. She believed the most important ingredient in a successful school was good relationships with all of the people involved.
Mrs. Letniak gracefully accepted reasonable excuses from others, but didn’t offer any for herself. Whether recovering from a migraine, experiencing back pain from a tipped quad incident, or lacking sleep after arriving home from a long trip just in time to get ready for school, she gave her whole attention to the task at hand. In fact, no one even knew of her discomfort unless they noticed subtle signs. One day after school, she made a house call to check on a student. Shortly after, she returned for a meeting. She was composed and attentive during the meeting. Later, when someone noticed the blood on her leg, she confessed that she had been bitten by a dog. To escape she had crawled through a caragana hedge in her skirt and heels.
Mrs. Letniak showed good judgement and the ability to make decisions based upon reason rather than emotion. Every rule has its exception. More than once she would arrive at school when road conditions were nearly impassable. One particularly nasty morning, when asked why she came when busses were cancelled, she responded that she had started out and realized she was in a white out. She didn’t feel she could safely turn around in the deep snow and poor visibility, so she came all the way to school. Her driving skills were not limited to heavy roads. Had she not chosen education, she would have made an excellent race car driver.
Mrs. Letniak had great diplomacy skills and a knack for persuasion. She spearheaded the students’ effort to replace Private First Class Pennington’s WW II medals. Once this had been accomplished, she contacted CFB Wainwright to arrange a guest speaker for the surprise ceremony to present the medals. A high ranking officer was astounded by her request. He tried to replace his father’s medals and was unable to do so, since protocol dictated the soldier had to apply for them personally. The presentation ceremony for Mr. Pennington was covered by CBC television. As a result, our Jr. High students were invited to Ottawa by Dr. Paul Kavanagh. Mrs. Letniak eagerly put in the work to make it a trip the students and supervisors will always remember. It brought positive recognition to our school when our MP, Kevin Sorenson, spoke in the Canadian parliament about the students’ project.
During her time as an administrator, Mrs. Letniak was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching Award in the principal category. The nomination came from Prairie Land’s Central Office, indicating that her work was recognized and appreciated not just in our school and community.
In the years to come, we will be reminded of Mrs. Letniak when we look at the school orchard and the evergreens growing around the playground, projects she initiated with lasting benefits. We will treasure memories of her kindness, enthusiasm and energy. She holds a very special place in the hearts of her students and colleagues.
Presented by Darrel Durksen
I have been asked to share a tribute of Debbie with you today. I talked to Jan Allison who was a very close friend of Debbie’s and I will incorporate some of her memories as well. Debbie was truly an amazing woman in many ways. I want to start out with a scripture that I think describes the kind of person Debbie was and it is found in Colossians 3:12-17. It says this, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” To me that really does describe who Debbie was.
Now in saying that, Debbie was fun loving and always looking for a new challenge in life. Jan was telling how she used to babysit Ryan and Jodi, and on one occasion her and Debbie found out that Mr. Dressup was going to be in Red Deer and they got tickets for the event. And at some point during the show Amy began to cry because she didn’t want it to end and wanted to see Mr. Dressup. Their seats were way up in bleachers and Jan said, Debbie was able to use her persuasive powers and before long they were back stage getting their pictures with Mr. Dressup. For anyone that knew Debbie, they would know that when she wanted something, she usually figured out a way to get it.
I don’t recall Debbie a person who liked to sit around and do nothing. She was always on the move and it didn’t seem to matter what it was, but she was up for almost anything. She loved plants, gardening, the outdoors, but she really loved skiing. I don’t know how many ski trips I drove for Debbie, but it was quite a few and they were always a lot of fun.
Ryan and Jodi and our kids are the same age, so over the years of them growing up we had many opportunities to visit. There was kids club, skating club, Coronation Music Festival, school activities and the daily grind of school. I can remember as a family going to their place to visit and wouldn’t you know it, we had to play games.
I remember driving the grade 5/6 class to Edmonton for her a number of times and I had the discussion with her many times about taking those young innocent children to visit the legislature and sit in the gallery to watch the fighting below among grown adults who supposedly lead our province. I mentioned to her on more than one occasion that if those kids acted like those politicians, they would get a spanking.
Debbie seemed to like rules. I remember one field trip to Edmonton and I had a number of boys in my room and we decided to order in pizza one night when we probably should have been sleeping. Debbie found out about it and told me that I wasn’t allowed to order pizza again on a field trip.
I always wondered if Debbie could have been a race car driver. I think she only knew two speeds, stop and peddle to the metal. As I recall though, Debbie seemed to get stuck fairly often.
Jan reminded us that one year her and Debbie decided to coach baseball when Jodi and Amy were on a team and they couldn’t find a coach. Jan said, “Neither one of us had any idea what we were doing.” But Debbie was always willing to step up to the plate. Coaching didn’t turn out to be along term career for either one of them.
Jan drove back to Sand Point with Debbie last fall and Debbie was bound and determined that they were going to take the canoe out on the lake. Neither one of them was in any condition to go canoeing, but they somehow managed to get it on the lake. I think that was the last trip Jan and Debbie went on.
My wife Pat had the opportunity to work with Debbie for the few years she was principal at the school. She said that Debbie was always a pleasure to work with and a great friend. Debbie never complained and you would never know that something was wrong or she wasn’t feeling good.
Pat also said, “No obstacle was ever an issue for her, she viewed an obstacle as an adventure she had to overcome.” One of the sayings Debbie would often use when things were tense at school was, “Make like a duck and let it all run off.”
Debbie was a kind and compassionate person. She will be greatly missed by her family and friends and we will continue to pray for the family as they walk this new journey.
Card of Thanks
The Letniak family would like to extend our sincere gratitude for the outpouring of support, kind sympathies, and condolences. Thank you to Heather and the Coronation Funeral Home for their acts of love and service. God Bless each one of you.
In lieu of flowers, donation may be made to a charity of your choice.
Margaret Darlene Poisson
Jan. 23, 1934Jan. 26, 2018
Margaret passed away peacefully on January 26, 2018, at the age of 84 in Calgary, Alberta.
She was born at Condor, Alberta, January 23, 1934 to Clarence and Thordys Rasmussen. Margaret leaves to mourn, daughter Corrine Pelletier, sons Roy (Linda) and Evan (Sonia), granddaughter Christie (Rob) Rodrigues, great-grandson Aiden, and niece Carol Gray. She is also survived by her brother Richard (Nellie), as well as numerous other relatives throughout Alberta. Margaret was predeceased by her parents, her husband Gus, as well as five siblings Bjorn, Clifford, Claire, Jensina and Marjorie Ann.
Margaret was many things to many people: daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, auntie….to many others an inspiration as an entrepreneur, a successful business woman, a teacher, and a seamstress.
Gus and Marg Poisson and children, Roy and Corrine, first came to Consort in 1957 and left again in November, of that year, as Gus was employed with Tri City Drilling and they followed the rigs. Two years later, they were back, when Gus went to work for Chieftan Mac. In 1961, Gus started work as maintenance man for the Village of Consort and remained in that position for eleven years, before going into the trucking business. Marg worked at the AGT telephone office in 1960. A year later she started work at the Royal Bank and remained there until 1966, when their youngest son, Evan was born. By 1971, Marg was working for Harold and Ann Shannon in the hardware store and lumber yard. Marg's lifelong dream was fulfilled in August of 1973 when she opened the Fabric Shop, in the old Royal Cafe building, on main street. Along with the Fabric Shop she operated the Sears Catalogue Sales Office. She eventually moved the business into a brand new building just east of Consort Hotel (now Patti's Place).
She took this opportunity to hone her skills as a business woman and to introduce her love of sewing to many people, teaching various sewing courses, and 4-H, retiring in 1991.
After retirement she took up golf with the same vigor as everything else she tackled. Wintering in Yuma, Arizona gave her the opportunity to golf a mere three hundred or so days a year. She moved to Calgary in 2002.
In 2005, Margaret started a long and hard fought battle with cancer and copd, but it didn’t stop her in her tracks!
In 2007, Margaret started sewing for the University of Calgary Pumphouse Theatre Productions, and she was seamstress for the designs in Cinderella, Anne of Green Gables, Hello Dolly, Love Boat, The King & I, Brigadoon, New York New York, Cabaret, My Fair Lady, and the last being the highlight the movie “Drawing Home” an intimate and epic biopic about Banff wildlife artists Peter and Catherine Whyte.
There was no funeral service, but a Celebration of Life was held Friday, February 2, 2018, 1:00-3:00 p.m., Century Hall, Cranston Community Centre, 11 Cranarch Rd. SE, Calgary, AB. T3M 0S8.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to The Alberta Lung Association.