John Brychka died peacefully on Monday March 15, 2010 at age 84 in the Dauphin General Hospital.
He will be remembered by his loving wife Emily and daughters Joanne (Don) Oleski of Melville, Saskatchewan, Marcia (Richard) Klak of Calgary, Alberta, Donna (Bruce) Slusar of Sakatoon, Saskatchewan, and Carol (David) Enns of Winnipeg, Manitoba, as well as his grandchildren Katerina (Petro) Nakutnyy, Talya Oleski and her fiancÈ Eric Solski, Jordana Klak, Alexander, Adam & Andrew Slusar, and Emily and Ellen Enns.
John is also survived by his brother Bill and wife June of Dauphin and their children Jan, Mary and Jim and their families, as well as his sisters-in-law Arlene (Peter), and her daughter Melinda of Deerborn, Michigan, and Lee (Mitch) of Winnipeg.
He was pre-deceased by his parents Nicholas (1968) and Katherine (Jopka) (1987), and his brothers Peter and Mitch.
John was born on Sunday July 12, 1925 in Gilbert Plains. He married Emily Leskiw in 1952 in Dauphin Manitoba.
John attended Brickburn School in Gilbert Plains from 1931 to 1941. He worked in the Gilbert Plains bakery and from there he went to work for the Electric Bakery in Dryden, Ontario, and then Brownís Bakery in Selkirk Manitoba. In 1942, John returned to Gilbert Plains and operated the Roblin Bakery.
At the age of 17, John enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy as a Bandsman (Coronet player) during the Second World War. He cleverly forged his older brother Mitch’s birth certificate in order to enlist in the naval services. Unfortunately, when they found out his true age, the ship was in the middle of the ocean and it was too difficult to send him back. He served on Division Strength from February 3 to March 27, 1943 and in the active force from March 28, 1943 until his discharge on June 21, 1946. From January 4, 1944 he served on board the H.M.C.S. Prince Henry on the high seas and was assigned during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. He participated in invasions in Southern France, Italy and Greece. As a result of his valor he was decorated with 7 medals of Honor as well as 2 Legion service medals for 50 and 75 years.
After the war, John operated Brychka & Bates Bakery in Gilbert Plains from 1945 to 1949. He then hired on to the Canadian National Railway (C.N.R.) as a Brakeman.
John took up playing the bagpipes in the early 60’s with the Royal Canadian Legion Pipe Band (Dauphin Branch) and along with George Zradika formed the Dauphin Legion pipe band. He also played in the Dauphin Town Band. During John’s time off he operated a repair service for Royal typewriters.
John and Emily built a cottage at Dauphin Beach in 1967 where they could spend summers with their girls and golfing with friends. John also enjoyed many hours communicating with people all over the world through ham radio with call letters VE4ADX and VE4SB. On many occasions, he manned a ham radio booth at the Ukrainian Festival.
In the early 1980’s, John worked for the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (Munson House) in St. Rose Du Lac as a counselor. John retired as a C.N.R. Conductor in 1986 and he and Emily made various trips to visit their daughters and grandchildren.
In 1998, John was instrumental in winning a federal judicial review of a decision of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board approving medical pension entitlement. In this position and his own personal experience from the court case helped him with Veteran’s Affairs Canada in pursuing benefits for Veterans and their surviving spouses both in Dauphin and other locations within Canada. He was highly respected for his knowledge and advice and was successful in assisting with deserving individuals to gain benefits. John took great pride in participating in Remembrance. He had spoken at the local Schools, attended various Remembrance Day services, and laid a wreath on behalf of Dauphin Rotary. In November 2005, he delivered a speech on remembrance stressing that we are all Canadians and that there are people in Europe who never made it home from the war that gave us the freedoms we take for granted today.
John had a long and diverse involvement in community organizations and activities somewhat limited by working away from home with the railway. John was a member of the Sacred Heart Ukrainian Catholic Church in Gilbert Plains and the Ukrainian Church of the Resurrection in Dauphin for many years and dedicated his time during Bingo events.
He was the President of the Gilbert Plains Golf Club from 1994 to 1998 and initiated the development of the additional 9 holes which officially opened on his birthday July 12, 1997. This has resulted in drawing others to the area and thereby increasing the economic strength of the community.
He was given the honour of a life membership with Rotary and participated in Book Fairs, Dauphin Country Fest and other fundraising events.
John was a dedicated family man married to his wife Emily for 58 years. He was proud that Emily was home to raise a family of four daughters while his work took him away from home. John was exceptionally proud of all of his grandchildren and repeatedly shared with everyone what each one of them were doing.
John was a man of many interests and hobbies including: playing goalie for the noon hour hockey league, fishing, hunting, photography, camping with his family, wine making formerly known as River East Wine, shopping for bargains, golfing with his wife and buddies, and learning computers.
John loved to talk and to be around people of many ages. He enjoyed many coffees at McDonalds in Dauphin and as he became more confined to his home, the telephone was his lifeline calling old shipmates, relatives, friends, nieces, nephews, family, on a regular basis.
Prayers were offered on Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. from the Sneath-Strilchuk Funeral Chapel in Dauphin, with a Poppy Tribute led by the Royal Canadian Legion Dauphin Branch. Funeral service was held on Friday, March 19, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. from the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection with the Rev. Fr. Oleg Bodnarski officiating. Metro Lukie served as Cantor. The Crossbearer was Andrew Slusar and Terron Stykalo was the Altar Server. The organist was Sandra Dowhan and Donna Slusar was the soloist. The bagpiper was Holly Hewens and the bugler was Alexander Slusar. The Epistle was read by Joanne Oleski and Katerina Nakutnyy and the eulogy was delivered by Tere Stykalo. Interment followed in the Dauphin Riverside Cemetery. Pallbearers were Donald Oleski, Richard Klak, Bruce Slusar, David Enns, Alexander Slusar and Adam Slusar.
Should friends so desire, donations in memory of John may be made to the Kidney Foundation of Manitoba, The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba, the Parkinson Society, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, or to the C.N.I.B.Print This Obituary & Condolences