Alex Walter Prytula
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April 1, 1924 - July 16, 2013
Alex Walter Prytula, 89, father of nine, grandfather of 10, great-grandfather of five, teacher, army Major, music lover, dancing 'king', passed peacefully in his sleep surrounded by love on July 16, Victoria, B.C.
A native of Saskatchewan, Alex was born April 1, 1924, to Yewka (Eva) Senchyna and Tymko (Tom) Prytula on the family homestead between Wakaw and Tway, Saskatchewan, third youngest of nine. Alex attended Lone Pine School followed by senior years at Northern Light High. Farm chores he fondly remembered included bringing home the cows and milking them, throwing hay into the loft for the horses, and feeding the farm's 250 pigs during war time. A softball and hardball buff, Alex played for various prairie teams.
In 1944, Alex obtained his teacher's certificate from Saskatoon's Teachers College. His 40-year teaching career began with his first assignment as principal of Robinhood High School, later at St. Mary's High in Prince Albert, before taking his family and career to Kelowna, B.C. Alex obtained two of his three degrees at the University of Saskatchewan: a Bachelor of Arts, Biology major in 1949 and a Bachelor of Education, Psychology major in 1952; followed by a Master of Science from the Universities of Iowa and Minnesota (jointly) in 1966.
As a science, math and physical education teacher, vice principal and principal, Alex's career spanned nearly 40 years at eight schools in Saskatchewan and two in Kelowna. He took pride in his 25 year service with the Canadian National Defence's Air and Land Cadet Movement including the years with his brother Fred. While at the Vernon Army Cadet Camp, Major Alex Prytula built and operated an orientation program for staff officers that eventually provided university credit towards a physical education degree. His personal success with physical activities continued as he became a member of the Cadet shooting team, chosen to coach Canada's Bisley Team.
Alex enjoyed taking the lead in many community organizations: for Saskatchewan - Commissioner of Basketball, Area Director of Athletics, President and Councillor for Teachers' Federation, President of Biology Teachers' Assoc., Area Director for Science Teachers Assoc., President of Prince Albert Lions Band Assoc.; for Kelowna - President of the Teachers' Association, President of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Kelowna Regatta Director, and as unity of cultures was a passion of Alex, Vice President of B.C. Multicultural Society, and President of the Kelowna Multicultural Society for seven years, growing the society from six ethnic groups to 22.
During his early teaching years, Alex married high school love 'Prairie Chicken', mother of his nine children and partner in community activities, singer and writer, Martha Victoria Pretchuk of Buchanan, Sask. In later years, Alex married dance partner Marcia Mae Jackson of Boise, Idaho.
Music was a way of life for Alex who adeptly played several instruments. Accordion strapped to his chest, he played for weddings and events with Saskatchewan's Charlie Toner Band. Alex loved nothing more than to 'cut a rug'. Always eager to teach and lead the ladies on the dance floor, he excelled at ballroom dancing, western line dance and clogging; he claimed to know 52 pattern dances! Musically nothing moved him more than Western and Old Time music, savoring the singing and fiddling sounds of musicians like Roy Acuff.
Alex traveled extensively but always in family style. With his family, he only stayed in the finest quality rated accommodation - half of his children in a tent trailer and the rest in sleeping bags in the back of the station wagon. In later years, Alex spoiled himself and upgraded to a pop-up Volkswagen van camper.
Alex had a life-long love affair with sardines in oil, oatmeal with raisins or dates, anything Ukrainian especially sausage, perogies and poppy seed buns, carrot cake, and anything sweet, particularly snickers bars. He had a good sense of humor, and was very playful and quite a prankster throughout his twilight years.
Keen on the merits of leading a physically active and healthy life and ever the educator, Alex eagerly shared his unique exercises and health tips with children, grandchildren, friends and anyone who would listen. Alex has left a wonderful legacy of education for all of us. Some of his finest lectures were on finances, living within your means, staying active, (get a job!) and getting along with one another. Alex's legacy continues with the trust fund he established which will continue to support his grandchildren's post-secondary education.
Alex is survived by his brother Fred (Alice) of Saskatoon; his children: Richard (Rose- Marie Charpentier), David, Carol Ann, Bill, (Nora Kennett), Dianne (Vic Escude predeceased), Michael (Kim L'Ecuyer), Winona (Scott Demone), and Melissa (Darrell); grand-children Adam and Erik (children of David); Nicole and Danielle (Dianne); Ocean, Jadedawn and Raven (Michael); Joshua and Michael (Winona) and Jessica (Melissa); great-grandchildren Sawyer, Rhett, Sky, Jack, and newborn Sarah.
Predeceased by his parents, Tymko and Yewka, his beloved son Gregory (survived by Elizabeth), his sisters Polly (Peter) and Mary (Roland), and brothers William (Anne), John (Anne), Thomas (Polly), Nick (survived by Josephine) and Steve (Mary).
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Christina and the wonderful team at Craigdarroch Care Home who loved and cared for Alex, dancing and singing with him right until the end.
Prayer Vigil will be at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 21st at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, Tway, Saskatchewan with refreshments to follow. Divine Liturgy Mass at Saints Peter and Paul Church will be held Monday, July 22nd at 10:30 a.m., immediately followed by Burial at Tway Cemetery. Ukrainian Lunch and Reception 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. at Tway Community Centre. Pierre A. Charpentier of Shanidar Funeral Services has been entrusted with the arrangements.
Memorial donations may be made to the Alex Prytula Scholarship at St. Mary High School, checks payable to Prince Albert Roman Catholic Separate School Division No. 6 and mailed to 18 - 11th Street East, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan S6V 1A1. Send online condolences at www.shanidarfuneralservices.com.
Dad, we know you are smiling at us all as you continue to dance and sing with the angels and Heavenly Father. You are forever in our hearts!
Published in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix from July 19 to July 20, 2013