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Date of Passing: Mar 14, 2007

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BIRK ERNEST SPROXTON 1943 - 2007 Blasted out of the rock and water of Flin Flon, MB on August 12, 1943, Birk Ernest Sproxton returned to the ground March 14, 2007, passing away on prairie soil in the Red Deer Regional Hospital. Growing up playing hockey, Birk shot left and always loved the slap shot from the point. But a fascination with words, metaphors and the turn of a phrase pulled Birk to a life of reading, writing and teaching over professional sports. Busy with academic pursuits, Birk always had time for the most basic of things; rocks, trees, water, birds, family, friends and the other characters, real or imagined, who make the Prairies, the Prairies. Jokes, hyperbole and the occasional piece of wisdom, almost always mixed with gut-wrenching laughter, characterize Birk's discussions. That same humour, wisdom and insight, also evident in his writing, earned much high praise. In 2005, his book Phantom Lake: North of 54, earned the Margaret McWilliams Local History Award for excellence in the study and interpretation of Manitoba history. Birk also earned the $25,000 Grant MacEwan Alberta Author Award with Phantom Lake. At the 25th Annual Marjorie Ward Lecture March 8, 2007 at St. John's College, University of Manitoba, Birk returned to the place where he earned his BA, MA, and PhD degrees. Speaking on another explorer and lover of rocks, J.B. Tyrrell, Birk received much praise for the lecture which was to serve as the base for his next book-in-progress. Rather, one of his next books-in-progress, there was always more than one. In assuming the roles of husband, brother, friend, athlete, teacher (spending 31 years as a creative writing instructor at Red Deer College), editor, author, father, grandfather, in addition to numerous others, Birk touched many lives. With his wife of over 40 years, Lorraine, together they encouraged a household atmosphere of love, hard work, mischief and fun. Those traits remain. Birk is survived by his loving wife Lorraine; children Mark (Erika Ainscough), Denis (Rhonda Berry), Shannon (Nathen Eckert), Andrea (Craig Schroh); grandchildren, Shaw, Seth, Isiah; siblings, Merle (Sheila) Sproxton, Gwen (Mel) Chapman, Carol (Bob) Latremouille, Wayne (Beryl) Sproxton, Allen (Wanda) Sproxton, Cheryl (Ron) Peters; sister-in-law Marjorie Moffat; dozens of nieces and nephews, and countless friends. A celebration of Birk's life will be held at Eventide Funeral Chapel, 4820 45 Street, Red Deer on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 at 4:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in Birk's honour to the Canadian Cancer Society; the Red Deer Regional Hospital Cardiac Unit; St. John's College English Department; University of Manitoba or Prairie Fire Press Inc., Winnipeg, MB. Condolences may be forwarded to the family at Service and Cremation Providers: EVENTIDE FUNERAL CHAPELS 4820 45th Street, Red Deer. Phone 347-2222. DOWNTOWN RED DEER

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Mar 18, 2007

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