Gertrude Petracek (Stauch) was born May 30, 1928 on the family farm north of Yarbo to Stanley and Agnes Stauch (Van Hee). The oldest of 5 children, Gertrude was a farm girl at heart from beginning to end.
As a young girl, mom attended school at the Dovedale rural school north of Yarbo until grade 8. As most schools were located in the country at that time, there was a 2 mile hike from the yard to the school. Mom either walked or rode her pony Buster or travelled by horse and cutter in winter. Additionally, mom was responsible for helping her mother in the house and helping dad with outdoor chores. To see how far we have come, one of the chores was picking wild mustard out of the grain crops as farm chemicals were not in widespread use in the 30’s. Mom often recalled her early life of the 30’s as tough due to poor crops in some years and very hot and dry weather. The Depression of the 30’s had a lifetime effect on her as she appreciated everything she ever bought as she knew harder times could always be ahead.
In addition to her normal activities as a young girl, she acquired more responsibility raising her siblings, as her mother had many health difficulties and she would often do most of the domestic chores in the house. She was involved to the extent that she took a year off from school between grades 11 and 12 to raise her brothers and sisters.
Education was paramount in her family from both the Stauch’s and the Van Hee’s. Mom took a number of classes by correspondence eventually boarding and attended high school from grade 9 to 11 in Langenburg and grade 12 at Lebret.
In the 40’s and 50’s, much of the social activity of the day was in local dances in the schools and many times in barns. She often attended dances with her father Stanley as he was an avid musician and played in the Dovedale brass band. At one of those dances at Redpath School, she met Emil Petracek, as he had attended and asked her to dance. They were married on Nov. 7, 1950 at Landshutt rural church. From the marriage, 5 children were born: Maxine (1952) Theodore (Ted) (1956), Vivian (1958), Harvey (1963) and Kenneth (Ken) (1966).
Beginning early in their relationship, mom and dad enjoyed travelling by car to local and sometimes not so local destinations. With Stan and Margret Petracek and Bill and Yarmela Bartok they ventured to Calgary Stampede and Banff National Park. This may not seem far by today’s standards, but there was nothing resembling a highway until they got to Regina. Later on, there were family excursions back to Alberta to visit her sister Angela at Scandia and her brother Ted in Red Deer and later Calgary and back to Banff to visit cousins. Over time the excursions went farther to places like the Okanogan Valley, Jasper, Waskesieu and Yellowstone and had less kids as we got older and bigger. Someone also had to stay home and do chores! Once the kids got too old to vacation with mom and dad, an annual trip tradition began. Dad’s grandfather had originally settled in Texas and combined with a desire to escape some Canadian winter, a holiday tradition began. Starting with a truck and camper and graduating to the venerable blue Astro Van the winter holiday began. For over 25 years they returned to the Gulf coast area for times up to 6 weeks long. In addition to connecting to distant relatives in the Antosh family, jam sessions, market gardens, flea markets and sorties to Mexico were the order of winter vacation. After they became too old to travel by car, three more trips by air were done, escorted by Maxine, Mike and LeAnn.
While on these holidays and virtually every excursion they took together, mom had a photographic record of all the events. A hobby and passion she inherited from her father, a mountain of Kodak moments were recorded with her pocket camera. In addition to holiday pictures, all of the family gatherings, rural churches, old pioneer farm houses, grain elevators and vibrant prairie life were captured behind her shutter. For many years she was the official photographer for the Gerald CWL. Providing stories behind the pictures was also one of mom’s passions.
For years she contributed write-ups to CWL and Knights of Columbus news. A number of her photos were also published in local papers, subjects often being Ken’s dog of the day. There have also been rumors that she may have had one or two short stories published.
Above all, mom was grounded in her life on the farm. In addition to looking after the kids, a large garden was grown every year, with a lot being canned or frozen. We never lacked food! An avid baker, she also made deserts such as pies, cakes and cookies, as well as bread and puddings. She had a high respect for music, reading and education, imparting the love of these activities into all of our lives.
The title of homemaker or farm wife may seem unglamorous in today’s world, but the impact of a job well done will be measured in outcomes of successful children rather than awards and accolades. Mom was a devout churchgoer and volunteered large amounts of her time to the CWL. Above all, she lived the virtues of her faith and provided help to those in need. Much of her help was simply being a good listener.
Gertrude is survived by her husband of 68 years Emil of Esterhazy; children Maxine (Mike) Pich of Winnipeg, Man.; Ted (Audrey) of Esterhazy; Vivian Patrick of Esterhazy; Harvey (Raelene) of Saskatoon and Esterhazy; and Ken, Esterhazy. Grandchildren Kevin (Carmelle) Pich, LeAnn Pich, Joelene (Brandon) Banga (Petracek), Chad (Jessica) Petracek, Kathryn Petracek, Brett Petracek, Lezlie Patrick, Kelly Patrick and Alexa Petracek, Great grandchildren Carter Pich, Peighton and Colby Banga, Camryn and Dylon Petracek, Skylar Bajnok (Petracek), Lance Patrick. Sister Angela and Emil Chomistek (Pat, Dan, Guy and Kathy) of Tompkins, Sask., sister Mary and Walter Hohloch of Medicine Hat, Alta., brother Ted Stauch and Marylin (Tracey and Cindy) of Calgary, Alta., as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Gertrude was predeceased by her parents, Stanley and Agnes Stauch, brother Aime Stauch, sister-in-law Louise Stauch, and son-in-law Garnet Patrick.
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