Hawryzki John Neckolas
John Neckolas Hawryzki Born November 19, 1934 Passed peacefully May 26, 2020 Survived by daughter Wendy (Randy), son Russ (Lyne) and brother Allan (Phyllis) Pre-deceased by his loving wife of 41 years, Marion Ruth Hawryzki (Sale) and parents Neckolas and Mildred.
John was born in Vancouver in 1934 and raised on an apple orchard his Father worked in Steveston, BC. At a young age, he developed a fascination with trains and their engines that were transitioning from steam to diesel power at the time. The outbreak of World War II in the Pacific meant a temporary move away from the coast to the safety of the family farms near Hodgeville, in southwest Saskatchewan where John was exposed to the regular maintenance of farming machinery. After the War, John returned with his family to Steveston, BC. Times were tight and the young John started picking up shifts at a nearby Cannery, to help with family expenses. He maintained his membership in the United Fishermen & Allied Workers Union until he honourably withdrew in 1959, having left the industry.
At 15, John approached a local railroader about how to start work in that field. Told that the railroad was currently fully staffed but there was a need for engineers on the coastal fleet of tugboats and they used the same engines; John rode the Interurban Street Car from Steveston to Coal Harbour in Vancouver in search of a job at Vancouver Tug. He hoped to transfer his skills to the railroad at a later date.
John successfully completed two periods of sea service as a second engineer with Vancouver Tug before they realized his age. He was removed from sea service, put to work in the shipyard and encouraged to get certified training.
John completed his first round of formal training in Diesel Operation and Maintenance at Vancouver Vocation Institute in June of 1951. He returned to sea-service with Vancouver Tug on September 1, 1951 aboard the Motor Vessel La Bonne as Second Engineer. He would serve on no less than 11 different Motor Vessels for Vancouver Tug and was Chief Engineer on at least 3, including La Fille (at 19 years of age), La Rose and La Belle. Many lifelong friendships were formed during his years at Vancouver Tug.
About this time, John suffered severe injuries in what was expected to be a career ending motorcycle accident. An insurance payment assisted in the purchase of a rooming house at 1356 Barclay Street, assuring some income from the rental of rooms and also a 15 minute walk from the Vancouver Tug docks.
A mutual friend introduced John to Marion Ruth Sale and they married in 1964. Daughter Wendy followed in 1965. A move to family friendly Renfrew Heights came in 1968 and son Russ arrived the following year.
Vancouver Tug eventually became part of Seaspan and work took John further afield, travelling via Tug from the Baja Peninsula to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean. Despite being away from his family for weeks at a time, John made sure to make his family time a priority, taking time off in lieu of overtime pay at every opportunity. From the mid 1970’s to 1980’s, he primarily worked onboard the Seaspan Cavalier.
Nearing the end of his career, John was finally able to spend more time at home. Now assigned to tugs docked at Roberts Bank, he worked first on the Seaspan Corsair and ended his career on the Seaspan Discovery. This home port allowed him to share his work experience with others, often inviting friends and family to join him when a tug was being repositioned to or from North Vancouver or sent for refueling at Steveston harbour.
After 45 years of service, John was forced to take early retirement in November of 1996 at age 61 due to a previously undiagnosed heart condition. The next 9 years were spent with neighbours, gardening at home, exploring back roads of BC with his son and travelling across North America with his wife. He enjoyed monthly meetings with ‘the old-timer’s club’ at the Canadian Merchant Service Guild.
The autumn of 2005 found John at his beloved wife Marion’s side when she passed. Having suffered a traumatic head injury in a fall the previous winter while on one of his daily, 5 mile walks, John was determined to live long enough to care for his beloved Papillion dog ‘Perky’, originally an SPCA rescue who had also suffered the loss of loved ones.
The last 12 years of John’s life were not kind to him. Past injuries caught up and he lost his abilities to move freely and a stroke a few years later affected his verbal communications. Still he was able to smile and his eyes twinkled in enjoyment of some small memory or moment. On the better days, a short conversation could be enjoyed. During these years, he was cared for by his live-in aides Edward and Desmond, in the home he and his wife Marion had purchased many years earlier. They were assisted by community care workers Sheryl, Melonie, Melody, Tammy, Angela and Marthy. Without the assistance of these people and neighbours like Gilbert, John would not have been able to remain in his home until his passing.
On the day John passed, he enjoyed a visit from his daughter Wendy and shared one of his favorite foods, cinnamon buns.
“Goodnight Wendy, Russ; I need to sleep”
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.firstmemorialnorthvancouver.com for the Hawryzki family.