On August 29, Philip, Adrian Joseph, Fafard passed away peacefully at home with his loving family by his side. He leaves to mourn his wife of 62 years, Ronna, their 5 children; Michel, Simone (Darrell), Mike (Cathy), Tim (Edith) and Theresa (Real) along with 12 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.
Also left to mourn his passing his sister Joan (Len), brother Adrian (Brenda), sister-In law Ann and many nieces and nephews.
Phil was predeceased by his younger brother Don and his sister-in law Elaine, and by his brother in-law Bob Pokorny.
Phil was born near Kamsack, Saskatchewan in 1938. At the early age of 4, his family moved to Flin Flon, Manitoba where he excelled in his minor league hockey and baseball pursuits. It was also in Flin Flon that dad grew an appreciation for all things outdoors and in particular, his love of canoeing and camping. Phil left Flin Flon for Winnipeg at age 16, after signing a contract to become property of the Montreal Canadiens, playing for the St. Boniface Junior Canadiens. Phil attended St. Paul’s College High School in Winnipeg and after a career threatening injury at age 19, Phil never laced up his skates again. The Montreal organization supported Phil financially as he pursued his education at the University of Manitoba, and he graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Paul’s Collegiate. Immediately following his graduation, Phil proposed to his best friend and the love of his life, Ronna. They recently celebrated 62 years of marriage.
Phil had always intended to become a teacher but following graduation, teacher pay was not sufficient enough to raise a family with, so for the first 5 years Phil worked as an underwriter with Travellers Insurance. With a small family, they moved 3 times in 5 years ending up in Toronto where he finally decided to go back to summer school in order to begin his teaching career. Phil received his teaching certificate from the University of Toronto and later completed his Master’s degree in Guidance Counselling from the University of Manitoba. He had 2 offers to teach- one in Kenora and one in Wawa, Ontario. Understanding the costs of moving, he choose Wawa as they paid moving expenses. During their stay there, Phil devoted his time between his family, his career and his passion for hockey. Phil was instrumental in starting up the Wawa Travellers Junior B club and was their first head coach. Under his tutelage, Phil coached them to a league championship after their 3rd year in the league. Dad has many fond memories of Wawa and always expressed a deep love for the people he met there, the players he coached and the outdoor playground it provided. After 5 years there, he accepted a position at Beaver Brae as a history teacher and eventually as the head of the Guidance Counselling dept. Phil was well respected and highly regarded by his peers and by the many students he taught. It was here at Beaver Brae and in Kenora that he met lifelong friends, Paul and Donna Tremblay, Harold and Loreli Nickel and Jim and Terri Stevenson. Dad, with the help of his friends and the students at Beaver Brae, built our home on Birchwood Cres and our family was raised there until both mom and dad retired.
Phil was instrumental in returning the defunct Kenora Muskies to the MJHL as the Kenora Thistles head coach in 1975. His love for the game and his passion for coaching was witnessed each and every time he was on the ice. He was recognized in 1978 as coach of the year and was invited to coach in the all-star game.
As their family life became busier, Phil relinquished the coaching role to eventually coaching his sons’ minor hockey teams and spending time with them on the ice. Dad was fair but demanding and he taught his own children that sports were important but learning to work as a member of a team, being disciplined, being respectful and learning to be a gracious winner were more important than just something in the win column.
Phil was very involved in the community of Kenora; for many years he was a member of the Recreation Board, Kenora Hospital Board, Credit Union Board member, Kenora Child 1st Guidance Clinic Chairperson (Firefly) and member and financial chairperson for the Notre Dame Parish Council.
One of dad’s greatest joys was being able to build our cottage just north of Redditt. Many summer childhood memories were made there – initially, with no electricity or running water, our “camp” was perfect for our family. Dad shared his patience by constantly driving the boat so we could all learn to water ski on the same green Cdn Tire skis, taking us out fishing every day, chopping wood, blueberry picking and by beating us at his favorite game in the evenings under kerosene lanterns, Trivial Pursuit. In later years, our camp got an upgrade as just prior to retiring, mom and dad sold their home on Rabbit Lake and renovated the cottage to their new home. It became our gathering place for all of the 5 children and grandchildren each summer. Hectic, loud and with food constantly being cooked, it was a wonderful place to grow up and create memories.
During retirement, for nearly 20 years, Phil and Ronna spent most of their winters in Brownsville, Texas. Making new friends, enjoying warm weather, playing golf and the camaraderie of their park were the reasons they returned each year. Dad spoke fondly of the friends they made there over the years.
Dad’s faith was at the forefront of how he lived his life and it showed in the way he treated others. Kindness, compassion and empathy for others were traits he wanted to model and pass onto his children. He strongly believed that, “We are all our brother’s keepers” and that by taking care of each other, the world would become a better place.
If you were able to ask dad what his greatest life achievement was, he would undoubtedly say his family!
Thank you to the staff at the Chemo dept, Dr. David Kyle, Dr. A. Chan, Homecare and the Para-med associates. The compassion and kindness everyone extended was much appreciated.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital.
A service to follow at a later date.
We will miss you, dad.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”