GARY WALTER STEFANIUK February 24, 1950 - July 30, 2015 It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved Gary at Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg on July 30, 2015. Diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, he faced his illness with quiet dignity and courage. Gary was predeceased by his mother Evelyn, father Walter, sister Opal and brother-in-law Ben Radchuk. Left to mourn his passing and lovingly cherish his memory are his sister Norma Kahn of West Bloomfield, Michigan, cousins and extended family coast-to-coast, longtime friends, bandmates and work colleagues. Gary was born in St. Boniface on February 24, 1950, the youngest of three children. He was raised in Transcona where he graduated from High School. An accomplished bass guitarist, Gary pursued his passion for music throughout high school playing in bands: The Wild Things, The Lackies, The Saffron and The Musical Odyssey to name a few. In the early 70's Gary traveled playing music in many groups including Harry Dumas and the Afro-Saxons, The New Canadian Mystics, and Bus. Gary performed locally and country wide. He recorded albums with Graham Shaw and the Sincere Serenaders on Capitol Records (1980) and CBS Records Canada (1981). Gary was featured with Brent Parkin and the Stingers on the Jimmy King Show on CKND TV (1983) and the Sincere Serenaders reunion gigs at the Winnipeg Casino (2010), and the Winnipeg Convention Centre "Bitter Pill Concert" (2011). Gary's played in July 2012 on Corydon Avenue with The Unwinders and as always Gary was "in the pocket" Playing Great! Gary played with the Sincere Serenaders at the Bill Merritt memorial Thursday, April 24, 2014. For more about Gary go to: https://www.facebook.com/ groups/177889445583606/ Gary was employed at the Health Sciences Centre and was a member of The International Union of Operating Engineers until health issues forced his early retirement. Home and family were the cornerstones of Gary's life. Gary was a loving brother and a devoted son whose empathy knew no bounds. He was our rock and pillar of strength in his caring support of our family's well being throughout the years. Gary's sweet smile, gentle demeanor and cherished presence in our family enriched our lives with his comforting love and concern. Gary's heartfelt, enduring devotion to our family was extraordinary. We will forever treasure his beloved memory and the special close-knit family bond we shared. Gary was an avid herb gardener and an excellent cook who welcomed hosting family gatherings as Chef and Official Photographer. He lived according to the high standards he set for himself, without judgement of others, true to his ethical beliefs and strong sense of duty. Gary's exceptional character is his legacy. The values he placed on sound nutritional philosophies and holistic health guidelines were reflected in his personal lifestyle. Gary's love of music extended well beyond guitar and covered many genres of music including a wide range of musicians and artists. He enjoyed collecting guitars, recording music, performing and collaborating in jam sessions and the odd Gig with his former band mates in "Jack's Right Band" at The Transcona 50th Reunion in 2010. Gary enjoyed traveling country wide, communing with Nature, honing his culinary skills, and time spent with family and friends. Gary was a Nature enthusiast who radiated a lifelong affinity for all creatures, large and small, feathered and furred. Feeding and observing the antics and activities of neighborhood and park wildlife gave him great pleasure. Rescue animals were very dear to Gary's heart, and he was a staunch supporter of animal shelters in his pet adoptions and generous donations. Nurturing his feline pets and Gary's affectionate rapport with them filled him with much contentment and joy. We are enriched by the beautiful memories of Gary's giving heart and generosity, his unconditional selflessness and unfailing loyalty, his compassionate and intuitive nature, his sensitivity and strength of character, and his lifelong integrity and indomitable spirit. Gary will be lovingly remembered and missed beyond measure by all who knew him, all who loved him, and all whose lives he touched. How he lived his life will always inspire us to live with grace and acceptance, and love with the fullest of hearts. "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, Love leaves memories no one can steal" Our deepest gratitude is extended to the doctors and staff at St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre, Victoria General Hospital and CancerCare Manitoba for their support in honouring Gary's health care wishes. Memorial donations in Gary's name may be made to an animal rescue shelter organization of your choice. In keeping with Gary's wishes, cremation has taken place. Interment and a private family service will be held at Transcona Cemetery, 5014 Dugald Road. Funeral arrangements in care of Wheeler Funeral Home, 1800 Day Street, Winnipeg, Telephone (204) 224-1525. "Those we love don't go away, They walk beside us everyday, ever close in our hearts, So loved, So missed, So very dear."
As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on August 15, 2015
Guest Book(11 ENTRIES)
- Gary was my first love and I will never forget the wonderful times we had. He never spoke any unkind words to me or anyone in the 4 years we were together. The times he played with Graham Shaw & the Sincere Serenaders or with Scrubbaloe Caine days in Toronto were family to him & I. We use to spend almost every sunday in Transcona at his mom's place for dinner. I remember travelling to meet his sister Norma in the US. I am so glad that we reconnected this last year, thanks to his ex-wife Nikita Ross who let me know about the cancer and gave me a number to call him. My condolences to all the family and friends who are gathering to remember him. God bless you Gary, I pray you are at rest with Jesus my saviour , Love Mary Ann
- Posted by: Mary Ann Peters (Ex- girlfriend 1970's & friend ) on: Aug 14, 2015
- I knew Gary for about 30 years and played with him through most of the '90's. I had the utmost respect for him as a person and as a musician. He was the epitome of what a great bassist should be and I will never forget his quiet intelligence. You are missed, Gary. See you on the other side.
- Posted by: Don Bouchat (Friend and fellow musician) on: Aug 11, 2015
- We'll all remember Gary in a good light because he didn't have a bad thing to say about anyone. He was a gentle soul and an intelligent, thoughtful person. I knew him since high school and was fortunate to play with him in several bands. He was the kind of musician and friend you could call on in an emergency and could sit in and play as if he had always been part of the group even if he had never heard the song before. He listened so well and was so knowledgeable and smooth...just like his personal life. We last jammed together with our mutual friend Harry Crowder almost two years ago. It brought back memories of playing and traveling together with people that have always been a pure pleasure to be around. I'm sorry I never knew of his illness and never got a chance to say goodbye. Rest Peacefully old friend.
- Posted by: Ray Carney (Friend, fellow musician.) on: Aug 11, 2015
- I remember Gary sitting on the floor, practicing the music for a new gig, he had ear plugs on. We celebrated good times, and got through tough times, and I wish he was still here.
- Posted by: Shirley Neault (Gary was my son in law and my friend.) on: Aug 10, 2015
- So sorry to hear of the passing of my nephew, Gary. May he rest in peace.
- Posted by: Nell Stackniak (Aunty) on: Aug 10, 2015
- I did not know Gary personally, however we did share the journey through his illness with his dear sister, Norma. The loss of her beloved younger brother, I know, is a great blow. My husband, Tim, and I truly sympathize with her and wish her peaceful days ahead.
- Posted by: Val Hastings (Friend from Transcona school years) on: Aug 10, 2015
- Please accept my sincerest sympathies. Gary and I worked together on several occasions over the years. I'll always remember him as a kind, soft-spoken, witty and non-judgmental person whose reputation for creative talent always preceded him. Peace
- Posted by: Gordon Metcalfe (Friend and colleague.) on: Aug 9, 2015
- I am saddened by the news, though I was aware of his illness and the inevitable outcome. We shared 21 years together and there were ups and downs as in any marriage. I can attest to the fact that he was a great and well respected musician. His legacy will not be forgotten. Rest in Peace Gary. May your second journey be one of joy and freedom.
- Posted by: Nikita Ross (Ex-wife) on: Aug 9, 2015
- I came to know Gary years after first hearing him play in the Westminster Hotel Pub in the early '70s. The band was excellent-- very tight and musical. Gary was the Rock that the band depended on. I was very impressed by the whole unit. Graham Shaw, Orest Andrews, Jim Brown and Chris Andersen. I could see the focus and dedication that Gary possessed. Years later I had the good fortune to end up playing gigs and recording sessions with Gary -- most often with his old friend and musical brother Gord Osland on drums. It was in this period that I grew to know Gary as a person and we became good friends. As is the nature of the music world there were many ups and downs we shared and through all the changes Gary remained the solid and caring man he always was. There was no pretense or ego stuff with Gary -- ever. This was despite being one of the greatest true musicians I have known over my career of nearly 50 years now. He was a Zen bassist. Always had great tone, time and musical taste. I didn't see Gary a lot after moving to Vancouver in '83 but every time we reconnected he was the same unaffected truly soulful guy he always was. I was touched deeply about a year and a half ago when Gary called me upon hearing of my Mom's passing. Like Gary I had a strong bond with my Mom and his reaching out to me was so very appreciated by me. I knew of Gary's health issue for quite some time and it really gave me concern and sadness to hear of the very hard path he travelled with cancer. We spoke on long distance phone for the last time a few weeks before his passing. It was bittersweet as he was open about the inevitable but somehow I felt he was very ready. He told me about his condition and the impact the chemo and radiation had on him. Hard to hear. My heart was heavy when the news reached me of his passing. I loved Gary as a brother. Rest in Peace Gary---- you lived a good life and will be remembered with love by many.
- Posted by: Dan Casavant (Bandmate/fellow musician a friend) on: Aug 9, 2015
- My condolences to the family. I didn't know Gary very well, but do remember Opal and Norma. Evelyn was my Aunt.
- Posted by: Deanna Turetski (nee Lychuk) (Cousin) on: Aug 8, 2015
- Norma, sorry for your loss.
- Posted by: David Stelmaschuk (cousin) on: Aug 8, 2015