By Harvey Petracek
Emil Petracek was born May 11, 1928 on the family farm north of Gerald to Vaclav (James) and Anna Petracek (Zeleny). The youngest of five children, Emil was born to a multigenerational family of grain farmers and millers.
Grandfather James eventually settled on land on the Cutarm Creek about two miles east of what has become the K1 mine site. As a young boy Emil enjoyed hunting and fishing in the valley along with his brothers Stan and Ed, as well as other cousins. Dad did not share a lot of stories of his childhood activities, but did participate in some sports such as baseball as a young boy. One of the older pictures of dad at about 10 years old was a preview of what would become two of his lifelong passions, John Deere tractors and his pet Boston Terrier, Corky. Green equipment and a farm dog always had a spot in dad’s heart.
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. At one of those dances at Redpath School, he met Gertrude Stauch, as he had attended and asked her to dance. They were married on November 7, 1950 at Landshut rural church. From the marriage, five 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 mom’s 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, Waskesiu 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 six 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.
Emil had a love of the land in farming and raising grain crops. Although livestock had been an integral part of the farm for most of his life, the cattle left in the 1980’s and with Ken and Ted as his partners, he set about to build a large grain enterprise. Dad was always a progressive farmer starting first with using fertilizer before many of the other farms. In addition to raising rapeseed and later canola in the 70’s very early on those crop’s history, dad also was one of the first farms in the area to raise lentils and peas and began direct seeding into stubble with the old Morris Seed-Rite long before our modern minimum till. Emil was most proud of 69 harvests on his own farms.
Above all of his love for raising crops, dad was most proud of his John Deere equipment. With the exception of the old 8N Ford, virtually all of his tractors and combines were green. This led to a Gold Key tour of the JD tractor works in Waterloo, Iowa to commemorate 50 years of buying green. For as much retirement as dad would allow himself, the one hobby he enjoyed late into his life was restoring the old 2 bangers that were a part of his early farming life. He attended numerous parades and threshing shows with a newly restored model and often received awards for his restoration work.
A deep faith in God remained with dad for all of his life and as a longtime member of the Gerald Knights of Columbus he extended his helping hand to worthy projects.
Late in his life as cancer had robbed him of most of the 2018 harvest and macular degeneration robbed a large part of his eyesight, we marveled during the fall of 2019 as dad operating his beloved 9600 for one last crop. I was questioned how he could do this considering what he had just gone through. I could only conclude that the only one who might know those fields better than dad was God and knowing dad’s resolve, he would argue he knew more.
Dad believed that there was nothing that could not be solved by hard work and the results of that work were the best reward. He never sought position or accolade, but chose to lead by example and be thought of as the leader instead. He learned by what he saw and did rather than by study and was always thinking forward rather than to the past. One of his most important pieces of wisdom was “you gotta know your own mind”.
Emil is survived by five children: Maxine (Mike) Pich of Winnipeg MB; Ted (Audrey) of Esterhazy; Vivian Patrick of Esterhazy; Harvey (Raelene) of Saskatoon and Esterhazy; and Ken, Esterhazy. Grandchildren Kevin (Carmel) Pich, LeAnn Pich, Jolene (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, Mason, Camryn and Dylan Petracek, Skylar Bajnok (Petracek), Lance Patrick, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Emil was predeceased by his parents, his brothers Edward and Stanley, sisters Yarmella (Bartok) and Emma (Dutka) and son in law Garnet Patrick.
To send flowers to Emil's family, please visit our floral section.
St. Wenceslaus Roman Catholic Cemetery Fund, Gerald
P.O. Box 68, Gerald SK S0A 1B0