HOWARD J. STENSRUD, C.M.
Howard was born and raised on a farm near his hometown of Meacham, Sk. in 1927. The family moved to Saskatoon in 1944 when Howie was a teenager, giving him the opportunity to complete his high school education at Bedford Road Collegiate.
Howie was a gifted track and field, baseball and hockey player throughout his youth. He played ball with a local firemen team and took an interest in firefighting as a career. At the time, servicemen returning from active wartime duty were the top recruits for these positions, and Howie was too young for service in WWII. As a result, he took a summer position with Miner's Construction, planning to wait to be recruited to the Fire Department. The next year he was offered a position in the fire department and took the required physical. However, Mr. Miners, Howie's boss, did not want to lose a valued employee and offered him a raise that Howie accepted. In 1977 Howie purchased the company. Howie loved his work and continued working at Miners for 63 years. He worked everyday until just before his passing at the age of 85. He was an inspiration, a great mentor, a trusted advisor and a good friend.
Howard married Rita (nee Labrosse) 64 years ago. Whether divine intervention or not, Howie and Rita's youngest child Joanne was born with cerebral palsy. Howie dedicated his life to creating and improving community based services for the physically and intellectually challenged and in the process created, as a founding board member, Cosmopolitan Industries and Kinsmen Elmwood Residences. Howie was awarded the Order of Canada in 1994 for the creation of the Sheltered Workshop Model and his lifelong dedication to the disabled community. The services for the disabled in Saskatchewan are some of the best in the world and this achievement occurred in no small part due to the leadership of Howie and the special people he helped to inspire to join this worthy effort. Howie counted among his heroes the men and women who joined him in the journey to improve the lives of those less fortunate. He helped many good people become even better people. His vision helped to define a kinder community and we will miss his guidance and determination. Howie was honoured to receive the Queen's Diamond and Gold Metals, Saskatchewan Centennial Metal, Cornerstone of the Community and B'nai Brith awards.
Howie joined the Saskatoon Cosmopolitan Club in 1957, served as president in 1963 and was a member for 44 years. He was very involved with Jubilee Residences, as a Board member for over 20 years, President for 3. He was humbled when many years later Stensrud Lodge was named in his honour. He continued to be an active honourary member, serving as honourary Chair of the Fund-Raising Committee. Howie also served on the Board of the Saskatoon Housing Authority for over 10 years, and was a founding Board member for what is now the Saskatoon Association for Community Living, for over 20 years, serving as president for 3. Howie also gave his time to the Saskatchewan Association of Rehabilitation Centers (SARC/SARCAN), serving as President for 3 years. Howie help to create Cosmo Golf Canada, which at one point was the largest producer of golf clubs in Canada, proudly built by disabled hands. Always a realist, it was with great regret that he recommended the closing of Cosmo Golf operations due to off shore competition. Howie was one of the finest fundraisers our community has ever had. Those who donated could rest assured he would steward their donations wisely, including making the difficult decisions when necessary.
Howie was a member of St. Philip's and St. Joe's Churches for over 65 years. He has also served on the University of Saskatchewan Board of Governor's for over 6 years. In addition, Howie co-chaired the Friends of the Games Committee for the Western Canadian Summer Games raising money to help build the Saskatoon Field House. He was an active fund-raising campaigner for many worthwhile projects including St. Thomas More College, Special Olympics, United Way, Easter Seals, the Vipond Golf Tournament and many other worthwhile charities. When Howie's brother Brian and sister-in-law Evelyn were killed in a tragic accident, Howie created the "Top of the Rock Foundation" with their estate. Today, the Top of the Rock Foundation has grown under careful stewardship to provide special opportunities for the differently-abled that would normally be beyond their means. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Top of the Rock % Kinsmen Elmwood or Cosmo would be appreciated. Howie believed society will be judged by what it does for the least capable of its citizen. He was truly one of a kind and will be deeply missed.
Howard is lovingly remembered by his wife Rita, daughters Cathy, Jane and Joanne, son Michael, brother Ray Stensrud, grandchildren Aaron, Jeri-Lynn and Ashley, Jennifer, Evan and Michael, Kate and Malcolm, 3 great-grandchildren, Benjamin, Brody and Benjamin, many aunts, nieces, nephews, especially the Calgary families who were so important to Dad.
A Vigil of Prayer will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday Dec. 12, 2103 and the Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at noon Friday Dec. 13, 2013, both held at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Parish (corner of 8th St. and Broadway Ave, Saskatoon) Arrangements are entrusted to the SASKATOON FUNERAL HOME, (306) 244-5577. Condolences may be emailed to email@example.com
Published in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix from Dec. 10 to Dec. 11, 2013