Andrew James Stasiuk passed from this world on September 14th, 2023, two days before his 92nd birthday. This is a brief summary of his life that began on September 16th, 1931.
Andrew was born during the Great Depression to his parents, Joseph and Justine Stasiuk, on the family farm near the village of Poplarfield in the Interlake area of Manitoba. He was the seventh of nine children, and the first son to survive beyond the toddler years; diphtheria and an awful tragedy claimed his two older brothers. Together with his parents, sisters Anna, Marie, Gloria, Anastasia, Sonia and brother William they worked the farm to sustain their family. Dad shared many stories of his life as a boy on that farm. He told us how he learned to work with a horse team before his father could afford to purchase a tractor, and how he built a large barn at just eighteen years of age using only hand tools. He told us how electricity came to the farm after World War II, and how while riding their bikes, he and his younger brother knew a car had recently travelled a dirt road in the area, not by sight or sound, but by the smell of the engine exhaust carried through the air.
Andy attended the one room schoolhouse in the community for grade school but had to leave the farm to board out in the larger community of Teulon for his highschool years.
We're not sure when Dad first picked up the guitar, but we do know through that instrument he met many friends who he loved sharing the joy of music with. In his younger years he played dances, weddings, and other social events throughout rural Manitoba and the Winnipeg area. It was at a small town dance with his guitar, wonderful singing voice, and, as Victoria Osioway says, "his good looks," that brought them together in the summer of 1952. Married on August 28th, 1954, they had recently celebrated 69 years of marriage. Together they began raising their 3 children in a home that Dad built himself in the North Kildonan area of Winnipeg.
Dad was a businessman through and through. He took his first step into the world of entrepreneurship when he was laid off from his job as a produce packer in Winnipeg. With no experience in the restaurant business, he and Mom purchased the Okum Inn restaurant, a small diner in downtown Winnipeg just off Portage Avenue that catered breakfast and lunch mostly to the employees of the Winnipeg Free Press. They both worked very hard to achieve success in the business, but Dad always wanted more. In 1968 he convinced his brother Bill, an electrician, to join forces, and together they purchased an A&W franchise. Soon after, the brothers were packing their young families together and heading to Kenora where they built and operated the A&W Drive Inn which opened on September 19th, 1969. Needless to say, the Stasiuk car was the popular car to ride in on any of the kids' sporting trips. Their friends knew the car would be full of Chubby Chicken, Teen burgers, and fries.
Again, Dad and Mom worked very hard at their business to make it a success. After 8 years of working long hours nearly everyday, the business was sold when Dad received an offer he thought he couldn’t refuse. Following the sale he kept busy by helping his young children operate the Old Chalet Resort and Apartments located in Golf Course Bay, which he had purchased just prior to the sale of the A&W. Dad soon got bored and it didn’t take long until he dove right back into the business world and began operating Al’s Place, a small fast food takeout place on the East Highway, situated where Piston Ring is now. Dad continued to aspire for a greater challenge, and so in 1982 he purchased Mr. George’s Restaurant in the Kenora Shoppers Mall, which he ran alongside Mom, his daughter Carolyn, and son in law David. In 1993 he purchased Beckett’s Best Western Hotel, which was later rebranded as The Days Inn. Dad was an old school entrepreneur who dove head first into all his ventures, never deterred by the potential of failure. He took risks and worked hard, the words “can’t” and “doubt” were never a part of his vocabulary. With Mom and his children by his side, he was successful in every business venture he took on.
Reviving his desire to perform, in his 60's through to his late 80's he could be found strumming his guitar and singing songs with the band Friday afternoons at the Kenora Legion, or at Birchwood and Pinecrest's monthly birthday party celebrations. Besides music, Dad involved himself in other activities in the community. He served as President of the Lakeside Community Club, sponsored youth sports through the A&W, was a member of the Kenora Flying Club, not only attaining his private pilots license, but was very involved in the construction of the club’s hangar at the Kenora Airport. He was a member of the Kenora Ukrainian business men's club, and a proud donor to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital Foundation.
Brother, Husband, Father to Great Grandfather, Andrew is survived by his wife Victoria, son Robert (Tracy), Rodney (Bernadette), son in law David Lampshire, 6 granddaughters Lindy, Rikki, Laura, Layne, Shauna, Halle and 4 great grandchildren Ada, Sloane, Clarke, Sullivan, and his sole surviving sibling sister Sonia Dwornick. Sadly, 36 hours prior to his passing, Dad was predeceased by his daughter Carolyn.
Dad was a generous, kind, and true gentleman. We never once heard him utter a negative word about anyone. Dad battled dementia in the later stages of his life, his suffering is over and may he rest in peace. He was and always will be a big part of our lives. The family is grateful to all the staff at The Pinecrest Home for the Aged who provided Dad with exceptional and compassionate care throughout his time there. Please accept our heartfelt thanks. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to the Pinecrest Home for the Aged. A service will be scheduled for a later date at the Pinecrest Home for the Aged.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.brownfuneralhomekenora.com for the Stasiuk family.