Jake Skaley, known by most as Uncle Jake, of Rycroft, AB passed away on Thursday, April 18, 2019. He lived 94 years of fulfilling adventure and happiness. He died peacefully at the QEII Hospital with loved ones by his side.
Jake was born February 3, 1925 in Gronlid, Saskatchewan to Eva and Jack Skaley. When Uncle Jake was the age of 3, his family moved to Rycroft, AB, where the family homesteaded north of Rycroft in the Volin district. He spent his childhood attending the Volin School until Grade 7 and working on the family farm.
As a young man, hard work was a way of life and Jake took on a variety of jobs in the community to support not only himself, but also his parents, brothers and sisters. These jobs included stooking bales for neighbors and working on local threshing crews. He also cleared brush and broke land with his siblings to expand the family farm. With as busy as life was, the brothers and sisters were still able to sneak in times of mischief and fun.
Eventually, the breaking of the land led to being able to purchase his own land for farming and to raise cattle. Many people have fond memories of fencing with Uncle Jake and his odd sputtering of creative Ukrainian words when the hammer did not hit quite the right spot. He was an endlessly patient man, so this was a shock to others when it happened.
There are many memories of post driving competitions where no one could quite swing the post hammer like Uncle Jake, nor build sturdy corner posts that will last an eternity. In Uncle Jake’s wisdom, the corner posts were the most important for a good fence. Through his commitment and love of agriculture, he established a successful farm. Uncle Jake continued to enjoy raising his crops and cattle until his retirement.
Uncle Jake could chuck a mean ball, whether it was a fastball, or a bowling ball. His pitching skills for the Volin Kodiak baseball team are still talked of, and his success at the Fairview bowling alley was impressive. When snow was on the ground, or when needing a break from the fields, his natural athletic ability and team spirit made it easy for him to excel in curling, golf, and other community minded activities, especially community senior dances.
It is common knowledge that there is always a big shindig at the Skaley family homestead for Ukrainian Christmas. To this day, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins come from far and wide to reconnect over a plethora of Ukrainian food and Uncle Jake’s famous Christmas punch. One quickly learns to be careful of those pineapples in the bottom of the punch bowl! Often there would be over 60 people, across 5 generations, in celebration of the Season and to reconnect in the haven provided by Uncle Jake.
In his senior years, Jake met Judy Gordon at a community dance, and in short time, surprisingly enough, they no longer wanted other dancing partners. They enjoyed each other’s company, yet allowed each other to maintain their independence. As time passed, rather than keeping up two households in either Grande Prairie or at the farm, they decided to move into a beautiful suite at Lakeview Estates in Clairmont.
Uncle Jake was a strong, caring man, who in his quiet ways, helped and listened to anyone who asked. He is loved by many and has left fond memories of his zest for life, wit, smile, laughter, kindness, and calm, patient smiles.
Jake is preceded in death by parents Eva and Jack; brothers John (Nancy), Steve (Minnie), Nick (Adelaide); and sisters Annie Shaw (Laurence), Mary Gozdek (Michael), Nellie Schneider (Alec), and Phyllis Doll (Walter).
Jake is survived and will be fondly remembered by partner Judy Gordon, brothers Bill of Rycroft, AB and George (Barbara) of Edmonton, AB; and a host of nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews.
Family, friends and community are invited to join in a celebration of Jake Skaley’s life on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at the Rycroft Ag Building from 1-3 pm. In August, an interment of ashes will be held at the Volin Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity of your choice is appreciated.
“Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” – Author Unknown
Condolences may be sent by visiting www.oliversfuneralhome.com.