Music 10

Roderick Frank Lewandoski

May 7, 1941 ~ December 29, 2020 (age 79)

Obituary

 

 Roderick Frank Lewandoski - May 7, 1941

 December 29, 2020

It is with deep sorrow and much love that we announce the passing of Rod Lewandoski at the Assiniboine Center, Brandon, MB on December 29, 2020.

Rod was born on the family farm SW 1-17-17 R.M. of Clanwilliam to John Lewandoski and Josephine Kozoroski, a brother to sisters, Beatrice, Dorothy, Mona and Ann. Rod’s father died in June 1942. In 1949 his mother married Albert Swiscoski, and a sister Shirley and two brothers, Henry and Donald, were born.

Life was hard for the family and all pitched in to tend a huge garden, care for the cows, pigs, and chickens and work the fields.  Rod’s job was to catch the chicken for the Sunday dinner after church. There was always visiting, card games, and music as family lived close by. Sunday church was a meeting place, as was Angus Kasprick’s General Store in Polonia, especially for Friday night wrestling on TV. Rod attended Empire School but did not stay long. He had farm chores and always joined the men at haying and threshing time. Rod also spent some time helping   Gordon Levandoski, his brother-in-law, at his farm near Eden, Mb. Rod especially enjoyed Mother Nature and was most at home in the outdoors.

At 15, Rod got a summer job at The Flying R Ranch in Onanole, MB. Horses were his first love so it was not work for him. He taught the kids about caring for horses and riding them. Many families returned yearly. Rod, a shy but friendly young man, was loved by everyone for his kind, gentle, caring manner. He even kept in touch with many over the winters. During this time, Rod began wearing his “big hat”.  With the help of a borrowed motor cycle, he started dating Evelyn Swift of Bethany.

In March 1959, Rod hitchhiked to Winnipeg with co-worker Richard “Joker” Allen. With less than two dollars in their pockets and two Beaver bus line tickets, they made it to Selkirk where Joker’s parents lived. Rod stayed a week and returned to Winnipeg. With a business card from a Purity Flour Mills supervisor he had met at the Dude ranch, Rod got a job that day. He saved his money to attend Musker Engineering Institute, having decided he wanted to be a mechanic. Rod got a job at Purvis Motors (his first look at VW’s) soon after completing the course. Unbeknown to Rod, Evelyn also ventured to Winnipeg with her Uncle and Aunt, and moved in with his sister Beatrice. Days later, Rod rented a room close by. In 1962, Rod married Evelyn in the Minnedosa United Church. During that time they spent many happy hours with Evelyn’s cousin Brian Swift (2016) and his wife Fern.

In 1962, Rod went to work for Auto Haus, a new VW business in Winnipeg, officially opening it by cutting a ribbon with a Porsche. He worked with them for over 20 years, and created many lifelong friendships. Mastering the VW motor, Rod earned the title “Volkswagen Rod”.

During their time in Winnipeg, Cindy was born in 1963, the apple of her Dad’s eye. Scott arrived in 1967 making the family complete.  Rod coached ringette, baseball, and hockey at Glenlee Community Club. The kids loved him. Rod and Evelyn also played slow pitch ball with a group of Scott’s hockey parents and volunteered at Glenlee.

Summer holidays included a trip to Burns Lake, B.C.; Edmonton and Calgary, camping and visiting family in Minnedosa and the farm near Bethany. We all looked forward to our yearly trips to Raymore and Regina to visit great grandparents, great uncles and aunts, and cousins. The big trip was to Disneyland in California and Universal Studios. Meeting with Alberta relatives there added to the fun as did a daytrip to Mexico and a night in Las Vegas. In later years, Rod and Evelyn enjoyed many memorable, holiday excursions with Dorothy and Larry, Ann and Roy, and Bruce and Shirley.

In 1975, Rod accepted a new challenge, operating a service station with friend Jerry. He then decided to take over the Niakwa Shell Station on Archibald. Evelyn and Scott worked with him there. Four years later, he packed it in saying, “Let’s move to the ‘farm’!”

In 1985-6, weekends were spent on the farm, clearing bush, planting gardens and trees, and preparing for the move. In 1987, a huge workshop was built and Rod moved the camper into the shop (no more setting up and taking down!) He lived there for a year while Evelyn stayed in Winnipeg to sell the house, joining him on weekends. The kids were doing well in the city. The farm had very few amenities so there was much to be done. Eventually, a large, old, Timothy Eaton catalogue house was moved onto the property. People came from miles around to witness the gigantic move of this historical milestone. Evelyn moved permanently in August, 1988. Rod liked to say, “The kids didn’t leave home, Evelyn and I did”. There were many family gatherings, “hootenannies” with campfires. Rod brought out the guitar and the harmonica, and song books were made. It was about this time that Rod went back to wearing his big White hat.

In 1985, Rod and brother-in-law Morley Pearson created “Green-Side Up” in Neepawa; and for two summers they laid many new lawns. Last year as we drove down one street, Rod proudly said, “We laid that grass”. 

Elkhorn Ranch drew Rod back to horses and guiding. After three years, he went to work with “Annie” at Trailhead Ranch. By this time Rod had four horses of his own: R.J., Rosie, Trinket and Dream. The next year we were excited to have three colts: Lady, Cody and Blaze. Many dogs and cats came to the farm and became family. Rod enjoyed many trail rides on R.J. along with friends Cliff, Art, and many others. He also participated in numerous parades with many horse-loving friends.

1991 found Rod at the Erickson Co-Op Gas Station repairing small engines, lawn mowers, and chainsaws, etc. He retired after 10 years, then worked in his own shop. During that time, Cindy graduated and began her career as a Florist, moving to B. C. in 1993. Scott enrolled in a school program for the auto body business. He was a perfectionist in his work, winning awards at several car shows. Scott married Liz Vermeulin in 1993. Rod and Evelyn were thrilled to become grandparents to David, 1996, Kaitlyn in 1998. Scott died in 2011, leaving a devastating hole in the family.

Rod and Evelyn joined the Erickson Royal Canadian Legion # 143 in 1987, helping where they could, becoming involved in Bingo, and performing with the High Country Band (Stewart and Jocelyn, Glen and Ada, Irene, Katie, Vic and Lana). One day, Donald from Neepawa called. Hearing that Rod was a singer, he invited Rod to sing with his band Western Strings (finding out later that Rod was his first cousin). Donald’s sons, Mike and Chris, Ray and others played in the band. After a few years, Rod struck out on his own, forming The Whitehorse Band with Anna, Murray, Bob, Dave, Gary, and others. He also enjoyed making music with the Anderson’s, the Campbell’s, and several others from the Alonsa area.

In 1998, Rod fulfilled a dream and began a music festival, The Little Valley Jamboree, in Polonia, MB. His goal was to fundraise for the community and children in need of specialized medical care. Working countless hours,  Rod rounded up fellow musicians, prizes from local businesses, and many friends and family to help put it all together. The Jamboree outgrew its small beginnings and in 2006, moved to Erickson, MB, with huge support from the town, community, and countless volunteers. Throughout the years, over 60 children from Manitoba have been helped. Many lasting friendships were made.  In 2005, Rod received the Premier’s Volunteer Award.  The Erickson Lions Club awarded Rod and Evelyn the Medal of Hope. The Manitoba Business & Community Award was presented to Rod and Evelyn in 2008 for their community commitment to Exceptional Children.

In 2010, Rod’s Sister Mona, living in a care home in Brandon, asked her brother to perform for the residents. With Evelyn as his tech., Rod with his guitar and big White hat, the “Hi-Tech Redneck” began touring Manitoba seniors’ homes.  Rod had people smiling as he sang all the old country songs they recognized. Seeing the tapping toes and twinkling eyes, gave Rod all the pay he needed.

Rod and Evelyn enjoyed many pleasurable years on their farm making it beautiful, until health issues slowed them down. In August of 2020, Rod became ill. Though he fought hard and had excellent care from staff in Brandon General and Assiniboine Hospitals, Rod passed away peacefully on December 29, 2020, with his devoted wife Evelyn and family members at his side.

Although it is impossible to acknowledge every person, all young and old whom Rod met during his lifetime were important to him. Rod’s legacy is the multitude of people whom he has touched with his music, country boy charm, his funny jokes, his friendship, and his compassion.

The White Hat is retired but will never be forgotten.

Rod was predeceased by son Scott (2011), parents John Lewandoski (1942), and Josephine (Kozoroski) (1983), step-father Albert Swiscoski (1973), his-in-laws Marshall Swift (2000), Winnie (2001), sisters Sister Mona Lewandowski RNDM,  (2012), Ann Berehulka (2014), brothers Henry Swiscoski (2007), Donald Swiscoski (2002), nephew Tom Berehulka (1998), brother-in-law Harold Coulthard (1995), brother-in-law Bruce Wareham (2015), sister-in-law Dorothy Syslak (2015), brother-in-law Larry Syslak (2020).

Rod leaves to mourn his beloved wife of 58 years Evelyn, daughter Cindy, sisters, Beatrice, Dorothy, and Shirley; brother-in-law Ron (Terry), sister-in-law Betty (Bob), sister-in-law Donna (Morley), brother-in-law David (Dawn), brothers-in-law Roy and Gordon ; grandchildren David and Kaitlyn; many nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, and many, many friends.

At Rod’s request, no service will be held. Memorial donations, if friends so desire, can be made to the…

Little Valley Jamboree
Box 239, Erickson MB R0J 0P0
Web: https://www.littlejamboree.com

The Murray House
521 Frederick Street, Brandon MB R7A 5L1
Tel: 1-204-717-8700
Web: https://prairiemountainhealth.ca/murray-house

Assiniboine Health Centre Palliative Care
Mathew Lukose, Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator, BRANDON MB
Tel: 1-204-578-2310
Email: mlukose@pmh-mb.ca
Web: https://pmh-mb.ca/contact-palliative-care   

Words are not enough to express our heartfelt appreciation to the many who have travelled on this difficult journey with Rod and me. Thank you and God bless you all.

 

 

 

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Services

No Service

Donations

Little Valley Jamboree
Box 239, Erickson MB R0J 0P0
Web: https://www.littlejamboree.com

The Murray House
521 Frederick Street, Brandon MB R7A 5L1
Tel: 1-204-717-8700
Web: https://prairiemountainhealth.ca/murray-house

Assiniboine Health Centre Palliative Care
Mathew Lukose, Volunteer and Bereavement Coordinator, BRANDON MB
Tel: 1-204-578-2310
Email: mlukose@pmh-mb.ca
Web: https://pmh-mb.ca/contact-palliative-care

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