Frank Elmer Basiuk, was born September 28, 1929 on the farm homesteaded by his grandfather near Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. He grew up in the nearby small town of Parkerview with his two brothers, Henry and Joseph and his twin sisters Eleanor and Evelyn.
Always active, from a very young age Frank had a penchant for wandering away from the family home, often accompanied by his dog. These early explorations earned him some punishment, but were perhaps indicators for his later willingness and interest in travel.
Growing up in Parkerview through the 1930’s during a time of shortages fostered in Frank a deep respect for resources and a sense of ‘making do’ with what was available. These are values he carried with him throughout his life and his workshop was testimony to his ability to fix, repair, improve and build things. Karen considers her house to be the house that love built as Frank and Uncle John (Thelma’s brother-in-law) were at the ready and quick to to lend their considerable skills.
Frank started his schooling in the Chiselhurst one room school located 2 km from Parkview, Saskatchewan. When the school enrolment increased, the school was subsequently moved to Parkerview where he completed his elementary education. He continued his high school education at the Yorkton Collegiate, which required boarding as Yorkton was some 70 km away from Parkerview. After completion of high school he traveled to Winnipeg, Manitoba to take a six-week teacher’s permit course.
He started his teaching career with a one-year assignment in Roblin, Manitoba following which he returned to Chiselhurst, Saskatchewan to teach for a year in the school he attended as an elementary student. In 1952 he enrolled in Normal School in Winnipeg to obtain his teaching certificate. Upon graduation he took a position as principal in Elva, Manitoba teaching grades seven to eleven. Then in 1955 he moved to Manson, Manitoba to teach there until 1958. Frank taught for a year in Lyleton, Manitoba before moving to the Reston Collegiate in 1960. During the four years in Reston, he commuted to Brandon University taking courses to complete his Bachelor of Teaching degree as well as his Class Four standing with the Department of Education. He moved to Hartney, Manitoba in 1967 where he was principal of the elementary school and taught in various positions until 1987, when he retired. The highlight of his teaching career was an exchange he accepted to spend a year teaching in a school in Maitland, Australia in 1982 – a trip that changed his perspective on teaching, travel and life in general.
Frank’s life-long partner was Thelma Banks who he met and fell in love with while teaching in Elva. She was a registered nurse who had returned to Elva to care for her sick brother. Frank and Thelma were married in 1956 in a small ceremony. Together they had three children; Robert born in 1957, followed by Karen in 1959 and Grant in 1964. Thelma passed away in 2016 and Frank never stopped thinking about her or loving her. In his words, she was the love of his life
Products of small towns, Frank and Thelma endeavoured to make positive contributions wherever they lived. This was done as a matter of fact and in a manner that was unconditional and carried out in a selfless, quiet manner. Whether it was volunteering at the rink, driving kids to hockey, sports, band or scouts, contributing to community projects or simply being available to help, they were willing. Always active in the church Frank was unable to refuse when asked to serve on any number of committees, boards and associations.
Frank’s other love (after Thelma and family) was music. Self-taught, he played the accordion, guitar and violin and was a member of several orchestras over the years. Playing for socials and gatherings throughout south-west Manitoba gave him a joy that was perhaps matched only by dancing with Thelma. A lasting memory will always be their beaming smiles while dancing the ‘hop polka’. After they moved to Brandon in 2002, he continued to play and entertain on a regular basis at the personal care homes; playing as he put it, “For the old folks.” (himself being well over 80 at the time).
Family was very important to Frank and he kept in touch with not only his own brothers and sisters, but also those of Thelma’s family. Christmas at home was unknown as it was always celebrated with Frank’s parents in Parkerview and then on to Thelma’s sisters in Regina. Summer holidays found the family in the car, driving and camping to visit relatives in Ontario one summer and British Columbia the next. Just as all were welcome in the house, there was never any hesitation to get in the car and drive to visit a relative or family friend; including weekly visits to those sick and in need of cheer.
This willingness to travel never diminished and the year spent in Australia fuelled a desire for even more travel. Australia was followed by trips to the US, New Zealand, Malaysia (8 times), Borneo, Singapore, Hong Kong and to the Orkney Islands to explore Thelma’s origins. Frank and Thelma would have continued to explore new destinations but Frank’s dialysis made it challenging.
Throughout his life, Frank kept active, whether it was walking to and from school each day, playing floor hockey, or curling. It helped that Thelma was also an active woman and always up for a walk, skate, ski or cycle depending on the season. They seldom just sat as there was always a deck of cards handy for a game of cribbage or, if friends were over, a game of hearts, 31, or an invariably noisy round of “Oh Hell!”. In later years they enjoyed playing dominoes.
A true prairie ‘boy’, he enjoyed the winter, continuing to walk to school no matter what the weather. And when spring came, out came the boat and the golf clubs for his two summer passions: fishing and golfing. Those who played Hartney’s 1st hole will appreciate the irony and maybe the order should have been golfing and fishing for his ball!
Above all, Frank was a great Dad and a loving husband. He and Thelma provided a supportive, love-filled and nurturing household in which to grow up. Always there, always willing to listen, not always willing to give in (thankfully – in retrospect), always a gentleman; he expected little, but always acknowledged and appreciated simple gestures. In so many ways, Frank set the example for his family as a true class act.
Frank is survived by his twin sisters, Evelyn Gillander of Brandon and Eleanor Wowk of Saskatoon, sister-in-law Barbara Maher of Bellingham Wa, brother-in-law John Young of Calgary, as well as his three children Robert (Josephine, children Danielle and Donovan) of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, Karen (Ken) Barrows of Hartney, and Grant (Suzanne, children Holly and Toban) of Calgary.
Lovingly remembered but sadly missed.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Kidney Foundation of Manitoba in memory of Frank. www.kidney.ca
Due to the Covid-19 restrictions a funeral service will be held at a later date. Notifications will be posted prior to the service.