George Dika (April 24, 1932 – April 11, 2021)

George Dika, resident of Rycroft, AB, passed away on Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Fairview, AB, at the age of 89.

George was born on April 24, 1932, the second youngest of 14 siblings born to Francis and John Dika, on the farm where he lived and farmed his whole life to help feed and clothe his family of 7. In addition to farming, George always had a side gig, driving logging trucks in the winter when he was younger and driving a school bus later on. His bus rides were so quiet that he had to wake kids up when it was their stop in the afternoon.

George told his family a lot of stories about his younger years. He lived the closest to his school, so he was the one that lit the fire there early every morning in the winter. George did the pin-setting at the bowling alley in Rycroft before the time of electronic pinsetters. He borrowed his brother Jerry’s car to take his future wife, Joan, on dates and even their honeymoon. It is a wonder how much of this is true because George always told stories. The first-born grandchild, Chad, was a teenager before he realized his grandpa George was not a doctor in the “old country,” but when he was little, it worked to take his slivers out. You just didn’t know when to believe him, like the time George was invited to the Calgary Airport by one of their firemen. He got to punch holes in old airplanes to spray the inside and board a British Airways Boeing 777, where he sat in the pilot’s seat and chatted to the co-pilot. That story is known to be true. He would talk to anyone and joke with them anytime, maybe not the best idea with a customs agent at the US border, but that was George.

He loved sports. He played baseball, hockey and broomball, and as he got older, he refed hockey and umped baseball. Many summer weekends were spent at Moonshine Lake, where he played ball while his children ran wild. Winters were spent at the Rycroft arena, where the family lived off the “arena burgers” that his wife Joan cooked.

George loved camping, fishing and boating. When their daughter Georgia was four, they bought their first trailer. She swore that it was only 8 feet long, but between it and the canopy on the back of the truck, it slept the whole family of 7. From the May long weekend until harvest, the family would go camping every second weekend. Sturgeon Lake and Hilliard’s Bay on Lesser Slave Lake were their favourites with their family friends, the Bawkowy’s and the Shmyr’s.

He was very community-minded. George volunteered for many local organizations, including the MD of Spirit River Volunteer Fire Department, REA, Rural Crime Watch, Rycroft Ag Society, Dunvegan Historical Society, and Merry Pioneers in Rycroft. The guy just never sat still.

George always made an impression, though not always good; that was just who he was. A strong man with strong opinions, who always spoke his mind. He was tough sometimes, but he supported his family when they needed it and always had their back.

George will be sadly missed by his five children: Sue (Brian) McCoy, Grant (Alana) Dika, Wes (Lisa) Dika, Arlene Dika (Rob), and Georgia (Dave) Smallwood; eight grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren; and his sister Anne Dika.

His wife and mother of his children, Joan, passed away on Family Day, February 18, 2013.

Thank you to the staff at Pleasant View Lodge in Spirit River, AB, and Fairview Long Term Care for taking such good care of George for the last several years of his life.

Since George loved the great outdoors, a summer BBQ will be held where his family can all tell stories. In honour of George, go have some KFC and soft ice cream.

“You got your wish, dad; you’re finally with mom again. I miss you both so much.” – Georgia Smallwood

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