(October 13, 1923 – October 17, 1999)
Obituary of Violet (Luchak) Melenchuk, published in the St. Paul Journal, October 1999
Violet (Luchak) Melenchuk passed to her rest on October 17, 1999 in St. Paul, Alberta at the age of 76 years.
She was the much loved wife of Dr. John Melenchuk; mother of Janice Bell (Curtis), Karen Ferguson (Randy), Laura Albo, and Michael Melenchuk (Pamela). She was the beloved “Nana” to 9 grandchildren, Ryan, Kory and Joshua Ferguson; Brenden, Jordan and Ashley Bell; Cara and Jamey Albo; and Ava Grace Melenchuk. She is also survived by her sister Sadie Webster and 4 brothers, Bill Lucas, Michael Luchak, John Lucas, and Alec Lucas. She was predeceased by her father, Nicholas Luchak; her mother, Mary (Kusyk) Luchak; and her 2 sisters Doris (Luchak) Mathews and Janice (Luchak) Chance.
Violet was born on October 13, 1923 in Hamlin, Alberta. When she was 3 years old, her family moved to Vancouver, B.C. Violet attended Seymour Elementary School, Templeton Junior High School, and graduated as class valedictorian from Commercial High School. She not only distinguished herself as an excellent student, but also as an athlete who won awards in a variety of sports including gymnastics, track, basketball, baseball, and grass hockey. Her interest in secretarial work led her to attend Canadian Junior College from 1942-1944 and she became employed by the Alberta Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists. In the spring of 1946, responding to the shortage of nurses, she decided to change careers and become a nurse. She graduated in 1949 as president of her class from Portland Sanitarium and Hospital. She was the first nurse to be allowed to marry during her nursing coursework. In August 1948, she married John Melenchuk and the couple spent their first year apart—she in Portland, Oregon finishing her nursing diploma while he attended Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, Illinois. She later joined her husband in Chicago and enjoyed her work at the La Rabida Rheumatic Hospital for children.
In 1951, John and Violet chose St. Paul, Alberta as a place to set up an optometry practice. The small town of St. Paul only had a population of 300 and no running water! Over the next 48 years, Violet helped her husband establish a thriving optometric practice serving as office manager and bookkeeper, raised and educated 4 children, and generously contributed her creativity and energy to the local church and community.
Violet had a great capacity for happiness and a deep spirituality. Her positive attitude and graciousness were continually evident throughout her life as she learned to live alongside the debilitating illness of rheumatoid arthritis. She delighted in the activities and accomplishments of others. She loved playing games with her precious grandchildren.
Our dear wife, mother, and grandmother died as she lived—showing incredible courage and strength that came from her trust in God. We would like to thank friends and family for the many cards, flowers, phone calls, and letters of encouragement sent to Violet over the years and the many prayers offered on her behalf. We are particularly grateful to Dr. Michel Magnan, and caregivers from homecare and St. Therese Health Center in St. Paul for their compassionate care and support. Our thanks is also extended to Dr. Eugene Kretzul and nursing staff of the Royal Alexandra Hospital and Dr. Matilda Villjoen and nursing staff of the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton.
A time for visitation is scheduled for Thursday, October 21 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Yewchin’s Funeral Chapel, St Paul. Funeral service will be held Friday, October 22 at 1:00 pm at the Beauvallon Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Beauvallon. Pastor Warren Kay will be officiating with internment to follow in the church cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations to the St. Paul Evangelism Fund, c/o Box 425, St. Paul, AB TOA 3A0 would be gratefully appreciated.
Tribute to Violet (Luchak) Melenchuk
Written by a loving grandson
“I love you, and if I don’t see you again before I go, I want you to know that I am thinking about you”. These words were spoken by my grandmother to me on October 11th, 1999 the last time I saw her alive.
It was Thanksgiving weekend, of this year, when I learned that my Nana had only two weeks to live. After 40 years of endlessly and painfully battling chronic arthritis, her body had finally said, “enough is enough”. Her immune system had given in to rapid leukemia, which would, in two weeks, end her life. It’s ironic really, that after hoping for 40 years to be cured of arthritis, it was leukemia that would take in her life in only two short weeks.
The whole family congregated in St. Paul, Alberta, to join with their nana, mother, and wife, for the last Thanksgiving ever to be held as a complete family. All of the cousins came, including the new baby, which Nana had hung on long enough to caress and love. Football games, card games, and family movies were only a few of the many events which shaped, what turned out to be, the most eye-opening weekend of my life.
My Nana was a religious woman who stood by her faith, with a fire in her eyes and on her tongue. She was not fanatical however, she simply knew what was right and what wasn’t, and she told you if it wasn’t. Even though her beliefs were strong, she didn’t harp or patronize; she would very simply and tactfully explain what was on her mind. But it was her hope and faith in Jesus that left an impression on our hearts and minds.
It was Sunday already, which meant turkey, sweet yams, cabbage rolls, and mashed potatoes; you couldn’t forget the mashed potatoes. Everyone was congregated around the table, in a kind of silent respect that one would find at a memorial of sorts. Prayer was said and tears were shed. It was not the first time that weekend that emotions ran higher than a kite, but it was definitely the most sad moment of the weekend. After prayer everyone looked around the table not knowing what to do next. Do we eat? Do we cry some more? Do we just sit there? Luckily Nana took over and asked for some juice. After eating for a while, my aunt Janice stood up and proclaimed, as only she can, that is was time to toast the mother of the hour.
A few stood and gave tearful, choked-back toasts of thanks to Nana for all she had given them in their lives. Then my Nana said, “It’s my turn”. So all eyes and ears went to her.
Imagine having to make a toast, knowing full well that it would be your last. No writer, no matter how good or how famous, could have put together the feelings and emotions of one’s whole life time better than my Nana did on that Thanksgiving evening.
“I would like to thank my children for all of their love and support. I would like to say that I cherish my grandchildren with my whole heart. I would like to thank my husband for everything; I could not ask for more from him. And I would like to thank God for blessing me with such a full life and a wonderful family. I love you all and that’s all I have to say”, my Nana said with all the love and composure she could muster.
Monday morning my family said their goodbye’s, gave their last hugs and kisses to the one who had given us more hope than a thousand doves, more love than a thousand cherubs, and a faith that was second only to God’s.
That was the last time I saw my Nana, but looking back on her life and then remembering her toast, there is one thing that is simply unexplainable. After having more pain and more setbacks than any human deserves, how she could thank God for her full life and wonderful family simply amazes me. I can’t explain it, not even a bit. How someone has the courage and faith to say what she said in her toast is beyond my comprehension. I only know this–that my hope in life, is to live my life in such a way that no matter what happens, I can make that my last speech, too. If I can do that, then I’ve been given the best prize of all. Better than the Stanley Cup or the World Championship, I will have lived how my Nana taught me to live, because that was my Nana’s hope for me.
Violet (Luchak) Melenchuk died on October 17, 1999, 4 days after her 76th birthday.
*“Hope” was written by a loving grandson, Ryan Ferguson, for a course assignment in high school English in December 1999.