Memorable Manitobans: Orest Lazaruk (1932-2008)
Educator, athlete, coach, community activist.
Born at Shoal Lake on 20 October 1932, son of Steve Lazaruk and Mary Lazaruk, he grew up at Oakburn and attended Oakburn School. He excelled at sports and was a prospect player for the New York Rangers in 1951, but a bout of rheumatic fever while attending school at Yorkton, Saskatchewan ended that opportunity. Rather than pursue professional athletics, he opted for the field of education, attending the Central Normal School at Winnipeg in 1952, and later completed his BA and BEd via summer school.
He began a 37-year teaching career, starting in rural Manitoba at Mountain Road School (1952-?), Lund School (?-?), Culross School (?-?), and Rossdale School (1955-1957) before moving to Winnipeg where he taught in the East Kildonan School District. He was the Physical Education teacher at Munroe Junior High School (1958-1962) and taught at Polson School (?-?) and Neil Campbell School (1962-1967), prior to becoming Principal of Lord Wolseley School (1969-1972) and Robert Andrews School (1972-1989), after which he retired.
He was a divisional and provincial executive of the Manitoba Teacher’s Society and the River East Principals and Vice-Principals Association, and was an executive of the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club, Canadian Ukrainian Congress, the Folk Arts Council of Winnipeg, and both President and Mayor of Kiev Pavilion during Folklorama (1976-1980). He served within the Holy Eucharist Parish Church executive and was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Holy Family Nursing Home’s Advisory Board, and the Appeal Board of Legal Aid of Manitoba. He was a passionate sports fan, curling in a Provincial Masters Championship and numerous Provincial Teachers’ Bonspiels and both playing and coaching an elite fast pitch softball teams in the late 1950s and 1960s. Other pastimes included fishing and mushroom-picking. He was married twice, first to Roxie Maria Melnyk (c1933-1975) with whom he had three children, and in 1978 to Wanda Sawicz with whom he had two children.
He died at the St. Boniface Hospital on 12 February 2008.
Obituary [Walter Melnyk], Winnipeg Free Press, 10 October 1961, page 27.
Obituary [Roxie Maria Lazaruk], Winnipeg Free Press, 22 April 1975, page 13.
“Principal traded cards with kids,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly Northeast Edition, 25 June 1989, page 1.
“Fever thwarted hockey career,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly Northeast Edition, 25 June 1989, page 4.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 14 February 2008, page 33.
We thank Wanda Lazaruk for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 7 October 2020