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December 27,1921 – October 14, 2019

On Monday, October 14, 2019 with family by his side, Roy passed away in Seven Oaks Hospital at the age of 97 years.

Roy will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 69 years Wilma; children Craig (Beverly), Cheryl (Dennis) Wolochatiuk; grandchildren Lindsay (Manuel), Adriene (Martin), Courtney (Hadley), Aaron (Fabricio); great-grandchildren Aureila, Leanna and Avon, as well as extended family and friends. He is predeceased by siblings Mary, George and John.

Walter Roy Essex (Roy) was born in Stonewall, Manitoba. He was the eldest son of Walter and Elizabeth (nee Sheldon). As a young boy, Roy helped on the family farm. Roy attended Tecumseh school, a one room school, where he loved to spend his recesses catching gophers.

Growing up, family outings were mainly visiting neighbours and house parties. At one such party, Roy’s mother set her glass of wine on the floor. Roy decided to have a taste and then another and another, and so began his love for wine. Roy always enjoyed having a glass or two or even three with his good friends. Later in life, he enjoyed “sipping wine” with his grandchildren. 

In 1943 World War II was raging in Europe. Roy enlisted with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. After training in Canada and England, Roy was sent to Italy; arriving in Naples in 1943. He was part of the mortar platoon. His responsibility involved dropping shells into guns. Shortly after arriving in Italy, Roy’s platoon was engaged in heavy fighting at the Battle of Ortona. Of two companies with 30 men each, only eight men survived this battle. While on route to northern Italy, Roy contracted malaria. Once his fever broke and he started to feel better, he discovered that his platoon had moved on without him. He was not expected to live. Fortunately, his platoon had the foresight to leave a truck. Roy used it to travel through the war-torn Italian countryside and before too long was able to find his platoon. After Italy, Roy’s platoon sailed to Marseille, France and then pushed into Holland. Roy took part in the liberation of Holland, capturing the city of Apeldoorn in 1945. On May 7, 1945, Roy was with the PPCLI when they entered the city of Amsterdam. This was the day before Germany surrendered.

After the war, Roy returned to Canada and back to civilian life on the family farm in Stonewall. At a baseball tournament, Roy met the love of his life, Wilma. After a courtship of 4 years, Roy and Wilma married on October 28, 1950. They purchased a home on Oakland Ave. Roy was working at the CNR at the time of the marriage. In 1953 Roy and Wilma welcomed their first born, a son named Craig. Shortly thereafter in 1954, they welcomed their daughter, Cheryl. After the birth of Cheryl, Roy started working at the T. Eaton Co. He decided to return to school, taking night courses at Red River College to obtain his Mechanical Certification Diploma. With two growing children, the house on Oakland became too small. Roy bought an acre of land on Foxgrove Ave. in East St Paul. Roy and his good friend Frank Triggs, whom he met at Eaton’s, built a 3-bedroom bungalow where the family lived until 1992. During his career at Eaton’s, Roy received various promotions, and when he ended his career at Eaton’s in December 1994, he was the manager of escalators and elevators for Western Canada.

In Retirement, Roy and Wilma continued their love of dancing and travelling. Winters were spent in Arizona, where they joined dance groups and had fun line dancing and meeting many new friends. Summers were spent travelling across Canada and the United States in their RVs. They also enjoyed trips to Europe, Hawaii, and Alaska.

Family was always important to Roy. From a young boy into adulthood, his siblings and cousins remained his best friends. Much of Roy and Wilma’s social life was spent visiting and socializing with his siblings and extended family. Family reunions and the annual Essex family Christmas dinner held at Roy and Wilma’s were highlights. Spending time with his children and grandchildren was a must. Roy looked forward to the annual trip to Arizona because it was an opportunity to have an extended visit with Craig and his wife, Bev, in Denver. The real highlight though was being able to spend time with his grandchildren Lindsay and Adriene, whom he adored.

In 1994, Roy decided to buy Wilma her dream home on Meadowcrest Bay. Roy could be closer to Cheryl and Dennis and his grandchildren, Courtney and Aaron. Teaching Courtney and Aaron how to play cribbage was a highlight for Roy. After school and weekend visits to Grandpas for a game of cribbage became the norm and Roy loved it. Camping with his children and grandchildren was always something Roy loved to do. He biked the trails of Itasca State Park, hiked trails in Bemidji, and built the best campfires with his grandchildren. He was proud of all his grandchildren, attending hockey games, music concerts, and school and university graduations. 

In later years, Roy spent time tinkering on his cars in the garage, fixing anything that needed to be fixed, reading, visiting the neighbours, and helping his son in law Dennis with renovating. Roy had the ability to fix anything. If something was broken or not working, we took it to Dad. There was nothing that couldn’t be repaired with a little soldering, duct tape, or glue.

In 2017, Roy’s dementia progressed to the point that Wilma and Roy needed to move to River Ridge II. While at River Ridge, Roy stole the hearts of the staff and he in turn had a special fondness for all his health care workers. Roy loved to dance and whenever a band or instrumentalist came to perform, he was up dancing with Wilma. He looked forward to his glass of wine at Happy Hour. The family would like to thank all the staff at River Ridge II for the love and care they gave to Roy.

Roy will be remembered for his courage and determination, his gentle spirit, his kind and caring personality, his love of family, his ability to make friends with everyone, and for the hero he was.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Alzheimer’s Society of Manitoba, 120 Donald Street Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 4G2, are greatly appreciated.

Friends and relatives are encouraged to share in a photo-tribute, eulogy, stories and condolences for the family by commenting on the comments section of this page.

A celebration of Roy’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, November 2, 2019 at Kildonan Community Church 2373 Main Street Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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