Walter Edmund Smishek

32 entries
  • "Walter & I worked together with Saskatchewan Metis,..."
    - Jerry Hammersmith
  • "Smishek family, Our condolences on the loss of Walter. I..."
    - Janice Pettigrew
  • "My sympathy to the Smishek family. He stood out tall among..."
    - Arlene Franko
  • "Hello Mark & Family I just learned of your Father's..."
    - Dwight Mercer
  • "Ruth and family.Our thoughts and prayers are with you.We..."
    - Walter and Josephine Gibson
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Walter Edmund Smishek
Walter Smishek died peacefully at home on December 22, 2014 at the age of 89 after an exceptionally well-lived life. Predeceased by infant son Timothy, parents Andrew and Mary Smishek, siblings Nellie and Bronie Smishek and Anne Jasienuik, he will be missed by his beloved wife and partner of more than 59 years, Ruth (nee Schuck), children Mark, Kelly (Earl Kummerfield) and Erica, grandchildren Jordan (Jenaya), Stephen and Ethan Kummerfield, and Victoria and Mathew Smishek, great-grandchildren Mateo and Caden Kummerfield, sister Joan Robertson, and numerous other family members.
Walter was a politician and labour organizer who played an important role in Saskatchewan's life during almost two decades of public service as well as a dedicated family man.
He was born in Poland on July 21, 1925, and came to Canada in 1930 with his parents and older siblings, settling on a farm near Hafford, SK. It was there he first learned the values of hard work, honesty and fairness that would shape his life and career.
Following years as a representative of RWDSU, he became Executive Secretary of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour in 1960, and served as labour's representative on the Advisory Planning Committee on Medicare, writing a dissenting report which opposed user/deterrent fees, the overemphasis on fee-for-service as the means of physician remuneration, and other issues.
Walter was deeply committed to democracy, human justice and civil rights. He believed passionately in improving life for all, and in building a peaceful, caring society.
He served as a CCF and NDP MLA in the Saskatchewan Legislature for 18 years, including 11 years in high profile cabinet portfolios of Health, Finance and Urban Affairs. He also served on numerous boards and committees. As chair of Wascana Centre Authority, he was a passionate advocate for land conservation and the advancement of recreation and culture in Regina.
Walter was best known for his leadership in health care. During his tenure, the Ministry of Health abolished medicare and hospital premiums as well as medical and hospital user fees, and introduced a wide range of innovative programs, including the children's School Dental Program, the universal Prescription Drug Plan, the universal hearing aid plan, central bargaining for hospital employees, and a program to provide aids to assist the disabled in independent living. During this time the department of Health also joined with the departments of Education and Social Services in establishing an agency designed to provide integrated and coordinated services to the disabled.
After Walter and the NDP government were defeated in the 1982 election, he went to work for the federal department of Indian and Northern Affairs until his retirement.
Walter was a dedicated son, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, neighbor and friend. He took great pleasure in the community he and Ruth built together, and truly adored spending time with his close friends, often engaged in healthy discussion about the state of politics and current affairs locally and globally. He savoured the chance to co-host frequent gatherings in their Regina home and cabin at Kannata Valley, where dinner parties stretched long into the evening as good times and conversations were shared over food, drink, storytelling and laughter.
Walter was highly respected for his integrity, courage, generosity and cooperative spirit. He loved a good glass of Scotch, a roaring fire, regular walks in Wascana Park, listening to music, carpentry, reading, caring for the yard and CBC's The National. In retirement, he developed a profound interest in baseball, and was a devoted fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. He loved attending sports games and activities of his grandchildren, and took great pride in his entire family.
In later years, health challenges limited his activities but never diminished his good humour or his interest in improving the world around him.
A gathering to celebrate Walter's life will be held December 29 at 2 p.m. in the Theatre Lobby of Conexus Arts Centre. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to a worthy cause for the less fortunate in this troubled world.

Published in The Regina Leader-Post from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27, 2014
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