GERALD "JERRY" PALKA
July 15, 1937 - February 28, 2019
It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden passing of Jerry Palka on February 28, 2019 at the age of 81. Jerry was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on July 15, 1937.
On February 28th, 2019 at 1:27 a.m. Dad joined Mom in Heaven.
Jerry was predeceased by his wife, Helen and parents, Mike and Tillie. Jerry leaves to mourn his daughters Charmaine, Tara (Mike); grandsons Chase and Jesse, Chase's nephew Brady; brothers Gordie (Margie) and Ron (Doris); in-laws Winnie, Clarence (Marcella), Betty, Audrey as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
The family would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the staff and ICU at Grace Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital for their care and compassion.
Jerry was born in Winnipeg at St. Boniface Hospital on July 15, 1937 and passed away on February 28, 2019 at St. Boniface Hospital. During his childhood and teen years he lived and attended school in both Winnipeg and Progress, Manitoba.
In October 1953 both Jerry and his brother Gord came to Winnipeg looking for work. They both got part time jobs at Canada Packers Beef Plant in St. Boniface then later full time at the Poultry Plant on Westbrook Street. Gord later moved on to farming but Jerry continued working at Canada Packers, eventually as a Production Manager. He spent 35 years there until February 1989 when the plant closed. He then worked for Morden Poultry for 3 months and in Portage la Prairie for 1 year retiring in 1992.
In 1955 as teenagers Jerry with his brother Gord bought their first car a 1953 Meteor. It seemed nothing on a long weekend for them together with friends to leave on Friday afternoon and drive all night head out to Kenora, Fort Francis, Thunder Bay, down south to Duluth over to Grand Forks to stay at the Westward Ho Motel then drive back home Sunday in time for the dance at Geysir Hall.
Jerry’s brother Ron is 11 years younger. Growing up Gord and Jerry took care of Ronny when he was younger but as the gap lessened as adults Ron and Jerry shared a very close bond until this day. Jerry, Helen, Ron and Doris travelled frequently with each other and experienced so much together. The fact that they lived blocks away from each other also contributed to how much time it allowed to spend together - to just drop by and say hi. Which of course is exactly that - we all know how much Jerry loves to sit around! Often Dad would be sitting in a running car waiting to leave!
There was always an extremely close relationship that Jerry, his brothers and their wives had together. Many memories, trips and daily or weekly contact with one another.
In Jerry’s words: “I’m filled with great memories of Christmas celebrations with family and friends, not just at the farm but also here in the city. Those were good times I’ll never forget.” “Mom and Dad were very kind, generous and supportive throughout their lifetime. We benefitted by this in many ways. Our friends became an extension their family and were welcomed with open arms.” This is clearly how Jerry inherited his nature. “Losing them left an emptiness that we try to fill by carrying on some of the traditions that they so much enjoyed.”
One of the homes Jerry’s mom and dad lived at was 431 Furby Street. This house had a second and third floor which allowed them to rent out rooms. One of the tenants was Helen!
Jerry married Helen Letwin on June 10, 1961. They had the wedding and reception in Helen’s hometown of Thalberg, Manitoba and the following weekend had another reception in Jerry’s hometown of Riverton, Manitoba. They were married for nearly 56 years. Jerry dearly missed Helen after she passed away on April 24, 2017. He was still in their same home they bought just before they were married.
Jerry’s children Charmaine and Tara were a great joy to him. Dad filled our childhood with great memories with regular weekends to both Riverton and Thalberg, Manitoba, camping trips, States-bound to Grand Forks, Fargo and The Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. In 1978 another trip Dad was proud of was taking his family together with his father to Alberta including Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise.
Jerry was a very proud Gigi to his 2 grandchildren Chase and Jesse. He named each of them "Boss". “Grandparents and grandchildren together they create a chain of love, linking the past with the future. The chain may lengthen, but it will never part.”
Jerry was a proud lifetime member of Army Navy Air Force (ANAF) 283 where he was a member for 54 years. For 6 of those years he volunteered as club maintenance. He also was always willing to help his friends or family when needed. The amount of friends that he had from this organization was plentiful, so many friends! He enjoyed travelling with ANAF as well whether it was for curling, golf or the Executive.
Jerry loved golf, curling and fishing. He golfed and curled with ANAF 283 and won many trophies which lined the walls in Jerry’s rec room. When he could no longer participate he rarely missed watching golf and curling tournaments on TV. He also loved cheering on the Winnipeg Jets and Blue Bombers.
In the 1970’s 12 members formed a fishing club called “The Fables” for fly in fishing trips from Pine Falls to various lakes. The last trip was done in style by renting a house boat in Kenora and fishing the Lake of the Woods. I really can’t tell if it was all about the fishing or drinking…but then that’s goes for curling, golf and time spent at the club! Good Times!
Jerry was kind and liked to help others. The Fables, with the help of the wives cooking and serving, put on a dinner and dance at ANAF 283 with the proceeds going towards the purchase of a dialysis machine for one of the ANAF members’ son.
In Jerry’s words: “I’ve spent many years curling with Club 283 though my knees won’t allow me to do this anymore. I ran the golf tournament for the Club in the 60’s and 70’s with the wind-up at our house. I can still hit a mean golf ball, it just doesn’t go where I want it to!” Dad was feeling so good after his hip injection in January 2019 that he was hoping he could get out golfing this summer.
Jerry took pride in his vehicles. In 1956 he bought a 1953 Desoto. In 1965 he purchased a 1966 Chrysler 300 Sport Convertible which he owns to this day. He was always very proud to drive this car, including chauffeuring members of the Executive of ANAF 283 for a number of years in the Buffalo Barbecue Parade. Dad always had big cars or “floating couches” as I’ve heard it referred to. Some other vehicles he was proud of were a 1976 Chrysler New Yorker, 1984 Ford Grand Marquis. He always wished to own a Cadillac and his last car purchase was a 2005 Cadillac Deville to which he has to this day.
Jerry has a great sense of humor. You have to watch for it because it comes when you least expect it! For instance, during hospital visits he’s had over the past couple of years a favorite response he loves to give to nurses who ask him how he’s feeling is “with my hands”!
There are so many stories of his younger days, it sure sounded like a wild ride! Dad definitely worked hard and enjoyed life!
In 2009 a Palka Family Memoirs book was created which allowed for this wonderful insight into Dad’s life.
A celebration of Jerry's life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, March 15, 2019 at the Army Navy & Air Force 283, located at 3584 Portage Avenue.
DAD - GIGI - JERRY WAS LOVED DEARLY AND WILL FOREVER BE MISSED.
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