November 25, 1956 - October 24, 2022
Dad was born in Middleton Nova Scotia on November 25, 1956, first child to Jim and Evelyn Witty. They moved often with Grandpa being in the military. He received his Bachelor of Physical Education from University of Manitoba in 1974. When Grandpa, Grandma and Auntie Irene left Winnipeg in 1975, Dad stayed with The Nesper’s playing baseball and hockey for West Kildonan North Stars. He went on to play Semi-pro hockey in South Western Hockey League in 1976. In 1979, he made the Dean’s List for Bachelor of Science at Mary College in Bismark North Dakota.
Dad met Mom at a Winnipeg Jets Social in December of 1975. They married on July 28, 1979. He embarked on his teaching journey, accepting his first teaching job in Simpson Saskatchewan in 1979, then Moosimin Saskatchewan in 1981. Jennifer was born in May 1983 followed by Derek in May 1985. He then took his first principalship in Lafleche Saskatchewan in 1988 before going to Creighton Saskatchewan in 1991. When he took the position at Niverville Collegiate in 1996, we joked that if he got the “itch” to move again, he was on his own. Dad commuted from Steinbach so that Derek and I didn’t have to attend the same school as him. We know that commute day in and day out, the very long days ultimately caught up with him over time. But matter how tired he was, he still made it to our sporting events, though on occasion you could find him catching a nap in the stands.
Dad was an athlete, and thoroughly enjoyed coaching competitive levels of volleyball, hockey and softball. He loved sharing his knowledge and skill with us kids and those he was honoured to coach. He grew up being a high achiever, always striving to be the best at everything he did. When it came to his career it was more than “work” to him. He cared about people. If he pushed you a little harder, it was because he saw your potential and wanted to see you succeed.
Over his career he was challenged and faced some life changing events that he truly had no control over but found himself feeling lots of guilt over, the loss of his father in June of 2000 triggered lots of pain. Dad wanted to “save” everyone and when he couldn’t he struggled greatly, and slowly started losing himself. When he took a leave from work, he found passion refereeing all levels of volleyball. This was Dad’s niche. This was his passion, the teams he met along the way, the friendships he developed, it was more than community, this was “home” for him, it was his “safe” place.
We are forever grateful to Ed Toews and all his refereeing "family", for being such a support to Dad over the years.
Dad’s health took a turn in August when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, requiring oxygen 24/7 which was a huge challenge for Dad. Despite this diagnosis Dad tried to be optimistic. We packed up his apartment on October 18 (where he had lived for the last 13 years) and Dad moved to an assisted living building. He had mixed feelings but ultimately was looking forward to making new friends and new memories with his kids and grandkids. However God had other plans for Dad and called him Home on October 24,2022 at the age of 65.
We thank his life long friend Regan (Hawaii) for being a constant support to Dad. We thank his friends at Colony St apartment for being there to listen to his endless stories, he sure had the gift of the gab.
Thank you to all the nurses and doctors that have had a hand in his care. And lastly, THANK YOU to everyone that has been there for us as a family during this time. He will be greatly missed by his mother Evelyn Witty, sister Irene Witty (Carmen, Noah and Embry), Daughter Jennifer, Son Derek and Daughter in Law Natalie, Grandchildren Dylan, Owen, Abigail, Gianna and Wesley, and the mother of his children Janice.
Cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Howard's life will take place on Friday, November 25 at 11am. A service will be followed by lunch at Friedensfeld Community Center (32004 Friedensfeld Drive, Provincial Road 303 Friedensfeld MB).
Howard's family kindly requests that all of his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by sharing photos, memories, and stories, using the comment section on this page.
Memories, Stories and Condolences
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