Morris Zemliak (1933 - 2012)

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ZEMLIAK, Morris Born: April 1, 1933 at Elphinstone, MB Died: Dec. 23, 2012 at Victoria, BC It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Morris at the age of 79 years. He is survived by his loving wife, Freda of 54 years; his son, Nick (Diana); his daughters, Muriel (Ben Koning) and Holly; grandchildren, Bianca, Hannah, Abby and Lino; siblings, Olga (Elko); Sister Jean; Sister Muriel, Phyllis (Father Edward) and Nestor (Alice); sister-in-law, Yvonne Goodall. Many nieces, nephews and cousins. Many friends. He often spoke of the direction that his life had taken. He said at first it was Go West, Young Man; next it was Go North, Young Man and at last Go South, Old Man. He moved west from Manitoba to Vancouver, BC in 1956, then to the N.W.T. in 1963 and returned to BC in 1978, this time to Prince George. Morris often spoke of his time in the Army. He joined up in Oct. 1951 and was honorably released in Oct. 1954. He served in the theatres of Canada, Japan and Korea. He was awarded the Korean Medal and the United Nations Service Medal and later received other decorations. During the past few years he reconnected with a couple of his old war buddies and skyped some nights to talk over old times. GO WEST, YOUNG MAN. He first worked for CN Railway as a bridgeman. After taking a leave of absence to spend 3 years in the Army he then moved to Vancouver in 1956 where he became a diamond driller. He met Freda Goodall in 1958 and they married after a brief courtship. They went to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and tied the knot on Dec. 29, 1958. After 7 years in Vancouver there was a move to the North. GO NORTH, YOUNG MAN. The first move was to Fort Simpson where he went into partnership with his two brothers-in-law. After a couple of years he started working for the Government. In all, there was a 15-year stint in the North, in various small towns in the N.W.T. During this time, in addition to his regular job, he did a great deal of work in the community. Icemaker for the curling rink, hockey coach, volunteer fireman, doing church collections, cadet leader come easily to mind. It seemed that everyday someone would say, "Let's ask Morris to do it". He also served on town council and came to believe that some others on council were easily swayed. To prove his point, he introduced a motion to paint the town trucks purple with a pink stripe. Though faced with some stiff opposition, he swung enough votes to have this ridiculous idea passed. And so that year Fort Simpson ended up with the town trucks looking pretty colorful. Morris was Action Man. He also served as campaign manager for his father-in-law, who was running again for the Territorial Council. The campaign brochure was titled "Vote for the Old Pioneer". Of course, Freda's father was easily re-elected, defeating two humbled rival candidates. From 1964 to 1966 three children were born to Morris and Freda. Nick arrived first, Muriel was a close second and Holly came last. At the tender age of 2 1/2 years, Nick now had 2 younger sisters. In his spare time Morris studied for and became a journeyman carpenter and steam engineer. And then, after six years of correspondence courses, he received his high school diploma. He now had two tickets and the prized diploma. GO SOUTH OLD MAN. He then successfully applied for the position of Grounds Manager with the School District in Prince George. Morris held this position for 15 years, then retired due to the reorganization of his Department. What a tremendous favour this turned out to be, as he then enjoyed close to 20 years retirement. Or should we say, 20 years of golf. The past 15 years were also an opportunity for Morris and Freda to shuttle back and forth from Prince George in the summer to Victoria in the winter. They maintained an apartment in Victoria year round in order to make this possible. A fascinating man, a wonderful husband, a proud father, an awesome grandpa. Morris was a giant of a man in a 160-lb. package. He met life's challenges with great courage, faith and optimism. He embraced life on earth with such enthusiasm. He summed it all up in a statement he made to Freda just a few weeks ago: "I've had such a good life. I wouldn't change a thing". Morris had a heart bypass at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver in 1988. He was one of very few who survived nearly a quarter of a century after this procedure. He was a record breaker in many ways. Morris so appreciated his doctors. We would like to thank them: Dr. Jim Dooner and Dr. Mark Thiessen of Victoria and Dr. Garnet Fraser of Prince George. We also want to thank Dr. Ovakim and the ICU team for their valiant efforts to save Morris' life. Our thanks go out to the ICU nurses who cared so tenderly for him in his last few days. Special thanks, Tracy, for the story of the "last laugh". Fittingly, Morris' Funeral Mass was held on December 31st, 2012 at Sacred Heart Church, 4040 Nelthorpe St., Victoria, BC. It was officiated by Father Alfred Alilio. Interment at Royal Oak Burial Park. Sung by Rafael Oei at the funeral: May songs of the angels welcome you and guide you along the way, May the smiles of the martyrs greet your own as darkness turns into day, Every fear will be undone and death will be no more, As songs of the angels bring you home before the face of God.

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