Obituary for Louis Rudolf Simkulak
LOUIS RUDOLF SIMKULAK
After a long struggle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), Mr. Louis Rudolf Simkulak, age 79,
passed away peacefully in his sleep on July 30, 2017, in Victoria Hospital, Winnipeg.
He was predeceased by his parents Louis and Lydia in 1967 and 1994, respectively. He leaves to mourn his passing:
wife of 52 years, Shirley Ann; daughter, Nikolai Alexis; sister Bertha Butterworth; niece, Lisa and grand nephew Max;
and in-laws: Elizabeth Linden (Adrian), Wally Seipp (Carol), Peggy Seipp, Claudia Steeves, Bob Butterworth
and several cousins, nieces and nephews.
Louis was born Oct. 21, 1937, in Winnipeg and acquired the family nick name "Sonny". He grew up on William Avenue and the "old" west end and was proud of the schools he attended: Victoria Albert, Laura Secord, the "old" Gordon Bell High School and United College.
Lou enlisted in the HMCS Venture Officer Training in the RCN in Victoria, BC. Much to his chagrin, he did not believe it to be the correct career for him and requested to be released after only a few months. He did, however, always maintain a high regard for the navy.
Returning to his parents' home, he took a job at the Manitoba Power Commission but once again became restless. So, to the great delight of his parents, he took up their offer of support including room and board and enrolled in United College, earned his B.A. degree and Certificate of Education from the University of Manitoba.
His dad, an immigrant from Hungary, with little education and no English at the time of coming to Canada, was so proud to see his son graduate, and see him he did: for the first and last time, he took a day off from his work, dressed in his best suit, and sat proudly with Mom in the bleachers of UMSU to see Lou handed his degree.
His first teaching job was in Deloraine for one year, he thought, and there he met and married Shirley Ann (Sam). One year became four years as he really enjoyed his stay in small town Manitoba, making some life long friends, including the one who became best man at his wedding, the late Larry Smith. He and Larry enjoyed coaching the school football team.
After their marriage, Lou and Shirley Ann moved to Winnipeg and he taught at Silver Heights and John Taylor Collegiates where he was instantly recognized in the halls in his white lab coat. He really enjoyed being the advisor to the students participating in MUNA (Model United Nations Assembly) and helping to coach girls' volleyball. Lou loved his time with his students and refused any offers to go into administration as it would mean leaving his classroom. In 1990, he celebrated both his 25th year in the division and his retirement from teaching at the St. James-Assiniboia Division dinners.
Lou loved history and always did extensive reading to enrich greatly the students' experience. It was only after retirement from teaching that he took an interest in reading fiction and thus passed many enjoyable hours. Sadly, his PSP robbed him of his vision so Shirley Ann then began to read aloud to him.
He inspired a love for, and appreciation of, history and lessons to be learned from it. He was rewarded by seeing students eagerly signing up for his class, sometimes for an extra credit or for no credit. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of, and was especially keen about, western European history; he was an inspiration to others, including family members, influencing a few of them to study history and to travel to western Europe. He was an awesome partner in the history category of Trivial Pursuit.
Family was very important to Lou and special days were to be celebrated as a family. He was delighted to become a dad and he and Nikolai developed a very close relationship from the moment she was born, to bedtime stories on his lap as a toddler, to the many family holidays over the years, to her graduation from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon (of which he was extremely proud) , to their last days together at the hospital.
He loved animals, especially cats, and passed this passion to Nikolai who also loves them and was inspired to become a veterinarian. Pets were always present in the home and he gave generously to animal charities.
Lou loved to travel. He started married life with a six-week honeymoon of western Europe. He and the family made many memorable trips from long weekends in Grand Forks where Nikolai learned to swim in the Ramada Inn pool, to tubing the Apple River, to numerous Caribbean cruises, and resort stays in Mexico. Later, as empty nesters, Lou and Shirley Ann continued to travel, taking many coach tours throughout western Europe, the British Isles, Morocco, eastern European countries, Helsinki/St. Petersburg/Moscow, (he was amazed to be inside the Kremlin walls) capping the touring days with river boat cruises on the Danube and Rhine rivers, all the while continuing to enjoy winter resort stays in Mexico. He was a constant source of historical facts on these tours.
In hindsight, last year turned out to be a farewell tour as Lou's health was in decline: four weeks in Mexico, visit to Nikolai in Ontario, trip to Nova Scotia to enjoy Wally and Carol's wedding, family reunion and the sights; and finally to Victoria, BC, to visit Elizabeth and Adrian and celebrate his own birthday there on Trafalgar Day. The cancellation of his planned winter stay in Cancun in February this year was a devastating blow, but the progress of his PSP made it impossible.
He enjoyed dinners and games with friends, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, walking, cycling, tending the flowers and yard, reading, movies, and t.v. PSP stole his ability to do any of this. His final pleasure the night before he went into the hospital was a long wheelchair roll around the neighbourhood enjoying the fabulous Manitoba summer.
Lou was so many things: a loving son, husband, father, uncle, brother, brother-in-law and friend to many. He was a person of integrity, quiet humour, and insight.
The family is thankful to family and friends for their practical support and prayers;
to the Home Care workers, Health Care Aides, nurses and Dr. A. Pacin at Victoria Hospital.
He was thankful to stay in his home except for his final nine days.
Lou is now out of pain and at peace. We love and miss you.
A private family Interment will take place at Chapel Lawn cemetery prior to the memorial service at Westworth United Church, 1750 Grosvenor Avenue, on August 10, 2017, at 2:30 p.m.
If you like, make a donation to the Winnipeg Humane Society, 45 Hurst Way, Winnipeg, MB R3T 9Z9 or your favourite charity