May 14, 1942 – August 6, 2021
A life to be celebrated.
Gary Scherbain died August 6, 2021. Gary will be missed and celebrated by his loving wife, partner, and friend Jennifer Dubienski; his children Darren, Kevin, Amy & Stephanie; and his grandchildren that brought him so much joy, Cecilia, Charlie, Spencer & Charlotte. He will also be remembered by his extended family and extensive network of treasured friends.
Gary was born May 14, 1942 to Mildred (1915-1968) and Harry (1909-1966) Scherbain. He was the older brother to his sisters Patricia (1944-2012) and Sherril. From an early age family was of utmost importance. He spent many Sunday afternoons with his cousins and carried on the family connections with the Annual Scherbain Christmas Party at his home.
A proud North Ender.
Having been raised in a religious household, Gary thought he would follow the church and become a minister. He studied theology and completed his Bachelor of Theology at United College and ultimately his Masters of Divinity at the University of Winnipeg.
A man who always challenged people (especially his children) to ask questions; he was ultimately led away from the church when the critical questions of his inquisitive mind could not be answered. It was his love of politics and history that steered him to Queens University where he made lifelong friends.
Gary took great pride in his accomplishments and openly acknowledged his failings.
In 1968, Gary ran for federal office as a Progressive Conservative in the Winnipeg North Riding. The “Be Sure With Scherbain” political campaign did not win over the constituents; with Gary gaining 9.3% of the riding votes. However, it was his experience working as an assistant to Jack Carroll, an MLA representing The Pas in the Manitoba Legislature, that inspired Gary to run. Gary’s time working with Jack would impact his life trajectory more than he could foresee. It was during one of his trips to the northern riding in 1966 where Gary met Daphne Odjig and became the first person to purchase Daphne’s work, and to sell it out of his basement to friends. From this initial meeting, Gary and Daphne went on to develop a life-long friendship that lasted until Daphne’s death in 2016.
Gary was abrupt. He favoured the word ‘no’ and often used it as a complete sentence. When you asked him “How are you?” he would answer “I am”. He was proficient in the English language and never missed an opportunity to improve the grammar of those around him. His love of language and media led him to work as a reporter with the Winnipeg Tribune (a personal highlight) and eventually as a radio talk show host on CKRC; “Gary Scherbain – In Touch with Today.”
Gary was a great story teller. He captivated audiences with his intelligence and calm methodical voice. Gary was never rushed. He knew the importance of a good pause, always taking the time to collect his thoughts before he spoke.
As his love of Woodland Aboriginal Art grew, in 1976, Gary purchased Daphne Odjig’s New Warehouse Gallery. With her suggestion, he changed the name to Wah-sa Gallery, which in Ojibwe literally translates to “far away”, but in the vernacular of the mid-seventies means
The Wah-sa Gallery and the connections Gary made, meant the world to him. He established long lasting friendships with the artists and customers alike. His knowledge of the Woodland School of art was extensive and his business took him across the country, coast to coast.
In 1984, Gary closed the retail Wah-sa Gallery –and again moved to government with the New Careers program as a trainer/coordinator. Here he also developed lifelong friends.
Gary was an active volunteer in his community. He spent time volunteering with political campaigns, parent advisory councils, Children's Home (New Directions), and the Kidney Foundation. He was part of the advisory council that created the Child and Family Service Agency to what it is today.
When the New Careers program was terminated, he established the Tap-In program. This program facilitated access to training at no cost for nonprofit organizations. Gary was always thinking how to give back to others.
The Retail Gallery opened again in 2000. Gary loved working with the artists and became good friends with many. He thrived on the connections with the clients/friends and loved the openings. He and Jennifer enjoyed the east and west yearly travels to various galleries promoting the art cards and prints and ultimately the artists. It was a very fulfilling time of his life. The Gallery moved to the Forks but closed in 2016 as his health was beginning to deteriorate.
Gary had a very rich life. The last 6 months have been a gift. Gary and I shared many hours and appreciated the love and respect we had for one another, and the life we shared; our children, their struggles and their successes.
We loved travelling across the country, especially to visit artists and Galleries. And artists Terry McCue, Nokomis, Maxine Noel Leland Bell -to name a few.
The trips to Mexico where we met Darcy, Donna, Joanne and Gord were the best.
Gary loved people and remembering experiences through food.
The best prime rib in Puerto Vallerta watching the Grey Cup.
The special salmon dinner with Wayne and Marga.
Family events for Christmas,or Easter,or birthdays.
VJ’s burger and fries, button ribs with his special BBQ sauce, escargot, 95ers, Spanish omelets, chocolate cake with chocolate icing and cinnamon buns or Tim Horton bran muffins with Gobs of butter, Diet Pepsi,and a frozen DairyMilk to top it all off.
The game of bridge, doing logic problems, reading,discussing current affairs, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Jets, his home, the pool …
Most of all, Gary loved his family. His children brought him great joy. Catching up with Kevin and Darren were highlights of his day. Whenever Stephanie,Amy, Spencer or Charlotte came for a visit and ran to say hi to Grumps they were greeted with a huge smile, outstretched arms and HELLO!!
He will be missed.
The family would like to thank the palliative care program as he was able to remain at home for 6 months. A special thanks to his nurse Jen Schoenberger, his family doctor, Dr. Marissa Harwood -Jones, his friend Dr. Bruce Martin and the kind compassionate MAID team.
Gary’s family kindly requests that all of his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by watching the photo-biography above. Please, also consider sharing your own photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page.
In Accordance with their wishes, cremation has taken place and no formal service will be held. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Gary’s memory to Artists in Healthcare Manitoba or the Grace Hospital Foundation.
Memories, Stories and Condolences
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