February 1, 2013

John passed away peacefully on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at the age of 73 years.

John was an exceptionally devoted, loving and treasured husband, father, brother, son, friend and coach.  He was a “poor Polish boy” who excelled in business. He was a tenacious football player who relished fierce competition. He was a legendary high school football coach who transformed lives through his passion for the game. He was a gifted fundraiser who used his gift to save St Paul’s High School for future generations and to provide some much needed fortune to the less fortunate. He was a devout Catholic who spent a lifetime in awe of Christ. He was a gregarious speaker and storyteller who captivated audiences and made friends laugh so much they would cry. He was a man who always supported the underdog, walked the walk and never gave up.

John is a man who will never be forgotten.

He is a man whose memory will be cherished by his loving wife, Marcia—his treasure, rock and true love for 43 years. He is a man who is adored by his children: John (Shannon), Joe (Yu), Dan (Norah) and Jane, who all proudly carry a piece of his tenacious spirit with them in their hearts. He is a man that lives in the spirits of his grandchildren: Ashley, Alyssa, and Nadia, who will have him proudly watching and cheering them on as they grow. He is a man who is forever bonded in love with his siblings: brother Stan (Darlene), sisters Mary Petroski and Eleanor Hambley and sister-in-law Pat Puchniak.  He is a man who will continue to bring joy to many others including his many nieces, nephews and good friends. He is a man who was predeceased and is now reunited in happiness with his parents Nellie and Joseph, brother Ed and sister Pat.

John graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education and began his career as a Junior High School teacher, Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at Churchill High School. He coached the Churchill Bulldogs Football Team through thirty two undefeated consecutive games, including three undefeated championships in the Winnipeg High School Football League—ranked 25th, 21st, and 20th in 1967, 1968, and 1969 in the North American High School Football rankings. His accomplishments as a high school football coach were recognized by his inductions into the Winnipeg High School Football League Hall of Fame (inaugural class) and  the Manitoba High School Sports Hall of Fame. 

John also founded the University of Manitoba Bisons Football team, the Fort Rouge Packers Football Team and was the Head Football Coach and Founder of the football program at the International Peace Garden Legion Athletic Camp. He was selected in the Canadian Football League College Draft by the Edmonton Eskimos and was an avid fan of the Blue Bombers (especially in the Bud Grant Era), Toronto Blue Jays (especially in the George Bell Era), Chicago Bulls (especially in the Michael Jordan Era) and Winnipeg Jets (all eras).

With unrelenting hard work, constant support from his wife Marcia and critical advice from his brother Stan, John built an extremely successful business (Thadeus Limited) which specialized in fundraising and had offices throughout Western Canada. He was most proud of the positive contribution that his business made to the community through its campaigns which raised more than $4 million for the Royal Canadian Legion, St Paul's High School and other non-profit and charitable organizations.

Throughout his life John had the pleasure and honour of giving back to the community in a number of capacities including serving as a member of the Honorary Board of Special Olympics (and was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Law Enforcement Torch Run), School Trustee for the St Maurice School Board, Director and Board Member of Fort Richmond Day Care Centre, Director for the St Paul's College University Alumni Association, Honorary Member of Big Brothers Association, Life Member of International Peace Gardens, Director of the Manitoba Amateur Football Association and Director of Manitoba Hydro.  John was also awarded the Community Service Award from the City of Winnipeg for his outstanding leadership in the community.

His summers (and a few harsh winter days) were spent at Malachi Lake in Ontario, his private wilderness sanctuary where he most enjoyed laughing with his wife, fishing with his children, brothers and friends and joking with his neighbors.  At Malachi, especially when his beloved dog Hurry was by his side, he was at peace with nature and always had a smile on his face (except when he was trying to repair something  or had been injured from repairing something).

There is so much more which is beyond what words can capture. But even if words could capture all, what would be captured would be incomplete as this is just the beginning of John’s story.  His spirit will live on forever. The story has just begun.  

A visitation will be held on Friday, February 8, 2013 from 7:30 to 9:30pm at Chapel Lawn Funeral Home (4000 Portage Avenue) with a Prayer Vigil at 7:30pm.  A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 1:00pm at St. Ignatius Catholic Church (225 Stafford Street).  Interment to follow at Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens.

Donations in John’s memory may be made to St. Paul’s High School, Churchill High School and/or the Special Olympics.

Special thanks from the family to Dr. Brian Sharkey and Juanita Bunyi for their exceptional care and friendship to John throughout his life and in his final days.   

For those who wish to sign the online Guest Book please visit: www.chapellawn.ca

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