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Date of Passing: Aug 22, 2018

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STEPHEN NORBERT DVORAK Stephen Norbert Dvorak, educator, community leader, gourmet sausage maker and patriarch, died in Vernon, BC, on August 22, 2018. Though he faced hardships, Dad enjoyed a wonderful life. With his devoted wife, Carolyn, he created a home where all were welcome, and good food was always at the ready. Married for 56 years, their bond was unshakable. They began their journey together at age 15; Mom's life revolved around Dad, and she will miss him terribly. Dad's life began in the RM of Minitonas, in Manitoba's Swan River Valley. Born on the summer solstice of 1941, he was the second son of hard working immigrants Jozef and Lydia, who arrived in Canada in 1929. His early life revolved around the family farm, his brother Frank and sister Josie, his beloved game of hockey, and finding trouble in town. He might have lived out his days in the valley, but fate chose a different course for Dad; he contracted polio in 1953, and spent the next year of his life in Winnipeg's King George Hospital. Dad emerged from hospital with some paralysis, and an abundance of resolve. Rural Manitoba in the 1950s was a difficult environment, and traversing it on crutches was, according to Dad, no picnic. Blessed with ambition and a keen mind, at 18 he set off for the University of Manitoba. The record shows that he didn't quite live up to his academic potential. That trait, he would observe, was dutifully passed on to each of his four children. Happily, he made good on the next challenge, and began a career in education that both sustained, and -at times- exhausted him. Donning a white sports coat, and likely a pink carnation, he and Mom married in May 1962. In the early years of their union, he and Mom traversed the great province of Manitoba, with stops in Swan River, Rossburn, Cranberry Portage and Gillam. Remarkably (as he stood a mere 5'7"), during this time Dad excelled as a basketball coach. By 1969, Dad had attained his Master of Education, and completed the transition from teaching to administration. Here, his leadership skills, compassion and mental toughness found their proper match, and he excelled. Rising to become the superintendent of schools in Assiniboine South School Division, he touched thousands of lives. He also made just enough money to support his four boys and a fancy car habit (with a questionable fondness for two door coupes). During his working years, Dad enjoyed the comraderie of his work mates, and especially the planning sessions at Minaki, where most of the big decisions were made on the water while landing sizeable pickerel. His love of fishing was infectious, and images of Dad commanding his beloved red Vanguard around Wellman Lake - or perhaps Mom pulling it through the shallows when that cranky Chrysler 75 failed, yet again - are etched into our collective memory. While his career was challenging, it was no match for life at 246 Wharton. For anyone who witnessed the boys' adolescent years, with five cars in varying states of disrepair strewn about, wild pool parties and even wilder ball hockey games, it would be surprising to know how calmly he and Mom withstood the storm. Like all fathers, he dispensed old school wisdom that was met with varying degrees of acceptance. But unlike all fathers, he often demonstrated a deep stoic bent, accepting those things he could not change. He and Mom completed their Sisyphean labours, and eventually all four boys were safely moved out of the nest. Having given some of his best years to the school system, in 1998 Dad took early retirement. He and Mom spent their days hosting grandchildren, rehabbing the family home, and planting colourful flowers to create a most unique oasis. One could not drive past their house without catching a glimpse of Dad and Mom working their yard, or sitting on the patio enjoying the view. In retirement they made regular trips to Grand Forks, where Dad enthusiastically purchased tea cups and other dazzling objets d'art, which he generously shared with his growing family. After enjoying Manitoba's delights for 74 years, in 2015 Dad and Mom moved to Vernon, BC. While their time in Vernon was marked by a sad decline in Dad's health, he did find pleasure in their new setting. In accordance with his wishes, Dad will be interred in the Minitonas Cemetery, completing the circle of his life. Dad was not defined by his physical limitations, and through his journey taught us the power of gratitude and acceptance. By these lessons, he will endure. In lieu of a funeral service, Carolyn, along with sons, Steven (Teresa), Jon (Stacey), Donovan (Dana) and Brendan (Kelly) ask that you join them at a Come & Go Tea, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., September 23, at the Pavilion in Assiniboine Park. There will be no formal program, but there will be a chance to visit, eat dainties, and tell stories together - just what Dad would've wanted. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Sep 15, 2018

Condolences & Memories (8 entries)

  • So sorry to hear of Steve's passing. This sad news brings back so many memories of our days in Minitonas and then our years at the University of Manitoba. Our camping trips at Regatta Bay in the Duck Mountains are especially memorable. Steve never let the effects of polio slow him down. When he wasn't tending the fire, filleting fish or fixing the old worn out outboard motors (we had two), he was planning our day - always a leader. Also memorable are our trips between Minitonas and Winnipeg during our University days. While Steve always had a car and we often caught a ride with him, our first trip was by train with Steve showing us the way. I also remember Steve and Caroline together between classroom breaks during high school in Minitonas. It was the kind of love story movies are made of. May you rest in peace Steve. My thoughts are with you Caroline, as with the family. - Posted by: Gene Karlik (Friend) on: Oct 07, 2018

  • My deepest condolences to your family for your loss. Both my mom and dad (Laurence and Betty Kesterke) talked about Steve. I only met Frank and Josie so I feel I missed out on this fantastic gentleman. May your memories be fond and often. Monica Day - Posted by: Monica Day (Relation) on: Sep 23, 2018

  • I was 21 years old completing my student teaching at Westgrove School when one day my principal, Orest Gingera, told me he wanted to hire me for grade 3 next year. He said I should go right away to the Board Office to have a chat with Mr. Dvorak, the superintendent. With no preparation and no car, Orest lent me his El Camino. It was the most important day of my career because I got the job and continued teaching in ASSD and later PTSD for 40 years. As I got to know Steve through the years I always appreciated his wit, intelligence and thoughtfulness. He was the best superintendent I have ever met. - Posted by: Nina Logan (colleague) on: Sep 20, 2018

  • My heart is so sad for your loss. When I look back at all my memories of Uncle Steve I can’t help but smile. He was always ready with hugs and kisses for us nieces and nephews. Uncle was never one to let adversity stand in the way of what he could accomplish. He was a positive role model in the community and to his family. He could always tell you the best way to smoke a fish, keep a garden, make sausages or refurbish your furniture. I will miss him and remember him always. Auntie I love you and will pray that God will give you the comfort and strength you need to face each day. Steven, Jonathan, Donovan, and Brendan I pray that you all would be comforted by Gods grace and peace. I Love you all. - Posted by: Heather Janke Diack (Niece) on: Sep 20, 2018

  • Oh Carolyn – I was so saddened to hear of Steve’s passing. I cried when I read the obituary. It brought back so many memories. I believe when I was young, Steve lived with us for a while in Winnipeg. I have a picture of him sitting up in bed with a brace on his leg and a smile on his face from ear to ear. Adversity was not a word that Steve knew. The obit so summed up Steve’s life. He was the most caring, affectionate and gracious man I have ever met. He was always so happy and welcoming, always with a hug and a kiss. When I first found out, my first thought was, ‘Oh my gosh – I have to call my mom’. It took a second to realize that she’s not here. She’s with Steve. I always admired you Caroline – you had such an inner strength. I pray that God uses that strength to get you through the sad days. Love you. Linda Codville (Pelisek) - Posted by: Linda Codville (Pelisek) (Second cousin) on: Sep 17, 2018

  • It was my good fortune to have worked with Steve for many years. He was dedicated to making us better teachers and persons. His sage advice and gentle ways made him a very effective teacher and administrator. I have great respect for Steve as have many others. He will be greatly missed by so many in A.S.S.D. My thoughts are for Carolyn and the boys as they go forward without Steve. - Posted by: Dave Beer (Friend, former colleague) on: Sep 15, 2018

  • Steve was my first school Principal and became a good friend. I particularly remember going fishing with Steve on the Nelson River and how he would suddenly swerve the car if he saw a prairie chicken on the road so that he could get a shot at it. In Gillam School he could listen in to classrooms as well as make announcements through the Tannoy system and I remember hearing Steve laughing quietly as he listened in to my pathetic attempts to teach. A great guy! - Posted by: Paul Taylor (Former teacher at Gillam School 1968-69) on: Sep 15, 2018

  • I often think back to Wharton Blvd. and the great neighbours we had. Mr. & Mrs. Dvorak were at the top. Always kind and forgiving (me tossing my rubber ball against the north wall of their house for hours until I happened to be in their house when my sister did it and realized what an awful noise - they put up with and they never said a word!) Mrs. Dvorak calling her boys in when the streetlights came on (or earlier)...Stephen, Jonathan, Donovan, Brennnnndannnnnn... We have been house-hunting recently and I told my sister we really liked this bi-level, and my sister (Susan) said, "Just like Dvoraks!" Although we did not keep in touch, the Dvorak family has always been near and dear in our thoughts. My condolences. - Posted by: Heather Saxon (nee Sinclair) (Neighbour) on: Sep 15, 2018

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