(January 21, 1927 – October 30, 2011)
Obituary written by his daughter, Lori Melnechuk Partee
It is with a heavy heart that I am sending the news of the passing of our father, William Melnechuk, age 84, on October 30, 2011 at 3:20 am. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in August 2008 which metastasized to his bones. He was an inspiration in how he managed this final stage of life. While seeing him in this level of pain was difficult, the support of hospice and family/friends made this journey more bearable. Debra and I were able to carryout his wishes to stay at home and along with our husbands, cared for him 24/7. His love for cars was noted even though it had been some time since he held a wrench. He often described himself as though his body was a car. While his words were few, he had a sense of humor and desire to help others that connected to many throughout his life. We were privileged to have him live with us the past five years (Berrien Springs, MI).
He is survived by his two children and four grandchildren: Debra and Lowell Rose of Vandalia Ohio, their two children Andrea (30) and Christopher (32) and Lori and Curtis Partee, their two children Danielle (19) and Austin (7); sisters Eva (Anton) Proskiw, Caroline Kiehlbauch, Ruth Eli; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by sisters Mary Slusarenko, Dora Nahorney, Jessie Tkachuk, Pearl Tarangle, Annie Tarangle; brothers George and John Melenchuk; and his parents. Although he and Esther Melnechuk divorced in 2001, they remained friends and she was dedicated in assisting with his care. He has chosen to be cremated and not have a funeral. We so appreciate the love and support of the family during this process and now as we say goodbye to our father. We look forward to God’s coming and seeing him in a new body, free of pain.
From sister Ruth (Melnechuk) Eli
I have fond memories of my brother Bill. When we were little, we played together often. Caroline, Billy and I played in the woods a lot. Mike Slusarenko lived with us during the winter, so I imagine when Mike was around Bill played more with him. In the winter we played outside when it wasn’t too cold. During the summer, we were in the fields with Dad.
In a family with eight girls, the two boys were special treasures. Although they may have been special, we all worked together picking stones or clearing brush before planting. We also helped in the garden. In the fall, we stooked in the fields to get the wheat ready for harvest before the rains came.
All the kids looked forward to school starting. School was so much better than working in the fields. Bill was always two grades ahead of Mike and me. We played softball at school, and sometimes at the end of a summer day, after dad worked all day, he’d play softball with us. We didn’t skate in the winter very often, because we didn’t have skates for many years.
When I was 18, I went to nursing school in Portland. While I was away, Bill moved to Ontario where he met Esther. I wasn’t able to go to their wedding because I was in nursing.
One time I remember Bill and Esther came to California. Lori had won a prize for her parents to come to California from Ontario. We didn’t see Bill’s family often. Esther was very good about writing letters, so that’s how we stayed in touch.
Carl and I and our kids would travel to Canada every other summer and one time we were there with Bill’s family. We have pictures of Jenell and Debbie at Baba’s house that summer – two pre-teen cousins hanging out together. All of us went to Violet and John’s house and then camped at a lake. I remember Bill would go fishing with Mike and Adolph, then we’d all fry up the fish.
Bill asked Carl and me to sponsor his family to move to the United States one year. They moved from Ontario to Ohio, then later, Bill and Esther moved to Florida. I remember Bill loved living in Florida. He enjoyed swimming. He enjoyed the oranges fresh off the tree and the warm weather. In 1990, Eva, Anton and I went to Florida to visit Bill and Esther. They had a lovely home and we saw Bill’s booth at the swap meet.
I appreciated many things about my brother. He didn’t like farming and neither did I. He was a very good mechanic and I admired his knowledge of cars. He was kind-hearted and that showed in the way he helped others. I truly admired the way he took care of our brother John and our sister Annie. He was so patient with Annie. When he was living with her, he always spoke highly of his family back home – Esther and his daughters and their families. It was a pleasure to see him helping our siblings to stay in their homes as they aged. He showed true compassion and kindness.
As Bill faced his final illness, he would tell me how much he appreciated his family. He was so grateful for the generosity of Lori and Curtis and their children as they cared for him, and so appreciative of the help Esther and Debbie provided. He was proud of his children and grand-children, and he spoke of them often.
Whenever I think of my brother, I remember our times playing as children and the special bond we shared as the two youngest in the family. I definitely look forward to seeing him again in heaven.
From sister Caroline (Melnechuk) Kiehlbauch
Bill and I had some wonderful growing up years. Because my mother always had work for us to do (e.g., fill the wood box, bring in the water from a well, gather the eggs, and the list went on and on), we made our playhouse as far away from the house as possible, so we could honestly say: “we didn’t hear you calling us“.
Later in life our paths led us in different directions, but we kept in touch via phone calls. Our visits with Bill and Esther were always appreciated and we enjoyed their wonderful hospitality.
Bill was very soft spoken, a considerate, helpful, hardworking man. He loved helping people who would need minor jobs done, i.e., putting up screens, nailing a loose board, fixing a door, etc.
We had the privilege of taking a few vacations with him. Bill would move into the condo with us and what a good time we would have just catching up with the events in our lives, playing Rook in the evenings, and going out to points of interest in the area.
Bill loved his family devotedly and often spoke of his wonderful daughters, their husbands, and grandchildren. I am thankful to Laurie and Curtis for giving him a home and taking such good care of him in his dying days.
I have lost a dear brother but we will meet again.
Tribute from nephew Bryan Proskiw
I have a deep sadness as I reflect on Uncle Billy’s passing. You may not know it but Uncle Billy helped me buy my first New 1972 Van. He was the best negotiator I have ever seen! He sat across the desk from the sales manager and negotiated for 2 1/2 hours for $250.
I really appreciated getting to spend time with him while he lived in Kelowna and helped with Aunty Annie’s care. We enjoyed going to a few hockey games and of course my Dad always enjoyed spending time with Uncle Billy. I will remember Uncle Billy with fondness and respect.
Tribute from niece Brenda (Tarangle) Kotanko
I never knew Uncle Bill until he moved here to Abbotsford, to take care of Aunty Annie. Uncle Bill had a great sense of humor and appeared to have a very laid back way of living. Nothing seemed to faze him, and when he started to get upset, he just took himself out of the situation and walked away. I really admired that about him, because I know that at times it could be very difficult to deal with the caregiving he was doing.
Uncle Bill used to enjoy going out in the middle of the week with Dad, Annie, and me to a lunch buffet. He would call early in the morning and Dad and I would meet them at the restaurant and then Uncle Bill would surprise all of us by picking up the tab. Our lunch conversations seemed to cover so many different subjects, but he especially loved to talk with Dad about new cars. Telling silly Ukrainian jokes (that I never understood) and laughing seemed to make all of them feel closer together. And, whenever they wanted to tell each other something politically incorrect, they usually started speaking Ukrainian.
Uncle Bill used to come over to the farm to get grease on his hands…..I think he missed having a garage to work in. My mental image of Uncle Bill is the smell of grease, his overall’s, a dirty tool and a dirty rag in his hands, and a huge toothy grin on his face. He looked like he had a great big secret that he just couldn’t wait to share. Uncle Bill, you will be missed.
Tribute from great-niece Debbie (Slusarenko) Merritt
We have been blessed with such a loving family. No matter what happens, there is always love and support in great supply.
We visited the Port Dover, Simcoe area most weekends of my first 11 years of life. My maternal grandparents lived in Port Dover and my parents’ closest friends, Reuben (Esther’s brother) and Elinor Kotanko (my mom’s childhood friend) lived in Simcoe as well. Uncle Billy was only 19 months older than my dad, his nephew. They had grown up more as brothers in Beauvallon. My dad’s childhood stories often included him and Auntie Ruth. Both Uncle Billy and Auntie Esther, and Reuben and Elinor stood up with my parents at their wedding. We would often go over and visit Uncle Billy and Auntie Esther Sabbath afternoons or they would come to Kotankos or the grandparents farm. I was always aware of Uncle Billy’s soft, gentle ways, even as a child. He and my dad could talk for hours. There was a real bond between them and I knew they were good friends as well as family. My dad was always interested in what was happening in Uncle Billy’s life as he cared for him deeply. His passing leaves a void in the family. Our hearts go out to you, Auntie Esther, Debbie, Lori, and families. We love you and pray for God’s precious comfort in your lives at this time.
Tribute from niece Janice (Melenchuk) Bell
My father and my Uncle Bill were the only living sons of Mike and Catherine Melnechuk. In the context of Ukrainian culture and gender politics of their time, the two brothers were favored by their 8 sisters and a great deal was expected of them in terms of carrying on the family name and preserving the farming family’s most precious commodity, their land in Beauvallon.
I recall, with fondness, the special connection I observed between my Dad and Uncle Bill. They loved spending time together and enjoyed each other’s company. They looked like each other and looked out for each other through out their lives. Uncle Bill and Aunty Esther, along with Debra and Lori, visited us in St. Paul many summers. We enjoyed boating and fishing and hanging out with our cousins. Aunty Esther would get out my mother’s sewing machine and by the time she left, my sisters and I would have several beautiful new outfits. Several times my Dad phoned Uncle Bill and asked him to buy a car for our family. Uncle Bill could negotiate a “black-book” price on a vehicle and then would drive it across Canada to St. Paul. Why were all the vehicles green? One particular four-door green Pontiac became my first “loaner car” which I used for transportation during my community health nursing practicum in Portland, Oregon. Later, that same green car got me safely to Loma Linda, California for my Master’s degree.
I remember first visiting Uncle Bill and Aunty Esther in Simcoe, Ontario in 1967 when my family and I pulled a travel trailer across Canada to see Expo ’67 in Montreal. Simcoe in the summer was abundant with fresh fruit and vegetables and Uncle Bill and Aunty Esther made us feel so welcome in their home. It was the first time I saw how tobacco was grown and I also remember the fun of shopping for shoes at a local factory. In the late 1980’s with small children of my own, we stayed with Uncle Bill and Aunty Esther in Florida and enjoyed their guided, personalized tours of the sights and sounds of Disneyworld, Epcot Center, and many buffet dinners. Aunty Esther generously cared for my mother as she regained her health after surgery.
Uncle Bill always showed a gentle kindness and was devoted to his family. While he cared for Aunty Annie in Kelowna, I had the privilege of reciprocating, in a small way, the hospitality I had received from him and Aunty Esther over many years. Uncle Bill frequently spoke about his children and grandchildren with deep pride and affection.
Uncle Bill, loving uncle and loyal brother, may you rest in peace. Your gentle spirit and family loyalty have left an imprint for good on my life.
Tribute from niece: Joanne (Nahorney) Kraushar
I am so sorry that our dear Uncle Bill is no longer with us; however, I have precious memories of him. The Nahorney children really did not know Uncle Bill until we were older. Uncle Bill got Albert his first car and in fact Albert got several vehicles from him.
Then one year my mom, Verne, and I took a vacation to Florida to see Uncle Bill and Auntie Esther. My what a wonderful time we had with them. They were so gracious and hospitable. For a couple of days Verne helped Uncle Bill do some work for the neighbor and also went to other flea markets to pick up some goods so that Uncle Bill would have some newer things to sell at his flea market. Uncle Bill and Auntie Esther then took us to the Florida Keys and then we visited Fort Lauderdale where we spent some time with a friend of theirs (my mom knew them as they were from Beauvallon at one time).
I also had the privilege of spending some time with Uncle Bill when he was taking care of Auntie Annie. My, could that man cook! Now we just have these precious memories that no one can take away from us. He was one fantastic uncle!
Tribute from niece: Elayne (Proskiw) Jacobson
My memories of Uncle Billy, go back to a time when I was just a young girl. We came to visit when he was living in Ontario. I had never travelled that far east, so in my mind, these cousins lived very far away. I do remember, however, what a wonderful time we had once we got there. We trekked around to all sorts of places.
I had never seen tobacco plants and Auntie Esther showed us how she tied up those plants. I remember the great food that she prepared and I also remember my dad and Uncle Billy always talking about cars. While there, we visited with the Kotankos. Not only was I able to get to know my cousin Debbie, but I was able to get to know her cousins as well.
Many years later, Uncle Billy and Auntie Esther moved to Florida. Now my parents, Anton and Eva Proskiw would travel south to visit them. I know they bought their timeshare in Orlando because Bill and Esther lived there. Later, I would hear stories from my mom and dad of all the people and places they were able to visit in Florida. My parents would tell me how Uncle Billy loved to come visit them because he loved to “hang out in the hot tub.” He hated the cold and even Florida could get “cold” so the hot tub was a real treat.
Another favorite event was visiting the flea markets. When my family came to visit this was a real highlight. I can still see our son, Justin, spending time with Uncle Bill checking out the various watch, toy, tool, knives and clothes booths. The topic and treasures we brought home from the flea markets would be part of our conversations for months to come.
It wasn’t until Uncle Billy came to live in British Columbia that I got to know him better. I remember stopping in Abbotsford to see how they (Auntie Annie and Uncle Bill) were doing. Uncle Bill was so frustrated. He had an entire house to pack up and move and Aunt Annie just wouldn’t let him get rid of anything. He seemed to be at a standstill. He didn’t know what to do so I decided to stay and help him. Together we managed to sort, separate, donate, throw away. and pack most of the stuff from the house.
Uncle Bill then moved with Auntie Annie to Kelowna where he very respectfully and lovingly cared for Aunt Annie. He was such a blessing to her. He rarely complained and instead was grateful to be there. He kept the yard in immaculate shape, fixed anything that needing repairs, and accompanied Auntie Annie to church and various appointments–driving her around and caring for in every way. My mother, Eva, really enjoyed having her brother live close by. She was now able to spend some great quality time with him.
My dad, Anton, really enjoyed Uncle Bill as well. They would go for drives, attend hockey games, and just hang out together. They seemed to have a very special relationship because whenever I would mention “Uncle Billy” to my dad, he would say, “Oh I sure like him—we always have such a good time together.”
Uncle Bill always seemed to gravitate to the men in the group. He seemed to really enjoy Warren as well, cause whenever he would come over to our place you would see my dad, Uncle Bill, and Warren either in his shop or walking around the yard looking at the various “jobs” that were being done. Uncle Bill would usually be talking about his kids and compare jobs we were doing with things he had done, or things his children were doing.
His children were living clear across the country, but they were always in his mind and whenever he would receive a photo of a grandchild or a letter, he would be sharing it with everyone around. People thought he was a man of few words, but once he would start talking about his family, you couldn’t stop him.
While living in Kelowna, Uncle Bill would join in the family holidays and celebrations at our home. It was a real “gift” to us to have been given those special years with him. We will all miss Uncle Bill but will also treasure all the memories we have of him. Our love and good wishes are sent to his family. We love and treasure you.