After 93 years of a life well lived, Thomas (Tom) Buternowsky passed away peacefully on Friday, July 16, 2021, at the Rossburn Personal Care Home.
Tom was born on May 15, 1928, in Horod, Manitoba, the youngest son of Theodora (Galan) and Jacob Buternowsky. He had three sisters - Rose, Marge, and Stella and two brothers - Pete and Sam. He also had seven older half brothers and sisters - Frank, Sadie, George, Jessie, Annie, Mike, and Mary. Of his siblings, he is survived by his sister Marge.
He attended school in Horod until Grade 5. He left school to help to care for his mother, who was not well, and to take on responsibility for the family farm. As a young boy, one of his first jobs was hauling water with a team of horses to supply the boilers of threshing machines at harvest. For fun, he often spoke of how he swam in the local river with his brothers and sisters to cool off in the hot summers. He also described the excitement of having a movie night come to the local hall. A ticket cost 25 cents. Often his family was short on "recreational" funds, so he and his siblings discovered the perfect hilltop where one could sit to watch the movie through the windows of the hall. Like many who grew up in the years of the depression and a world war, out of necessity, he learned to "reduce, reuse, and recycle" long before the phrase was popular.
In 1950, he purchased a quarter section of land in Seech. He moved there from the family farm in Horod with his mother and younger sister Stella. There he met Tena Glushka and on October 7, 1956, they were married in St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Seech. They raised a family of five - three daughters, Barbara, Donna, and Sandra, and two sons, Robert and Barry.
Together they farmed in the Seech area for over 50 years. He enjoyed working with his teams of horses. Even when tractors were used in the fields, his horse team continued to pull the stoneboat to clean the barn in the winter. He always preferred open air tractors, like his trusty Ford chore tractor, saying he could see his machinery better and he liked the fresh air.
Their operation was a mixed farm that included grain, hay crops, and livestock. Among the livestock, there were milk cows, beef cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and always a number of pets that the children enjoyed, including a pet pig named Betsy. There was always a lot of work to do on the farm, but it was a family affair. Tom knew how to end the day with something fun, whether it was a swim in Seech Lake after a day of hauling square bales, or a wiener roast in the field after a day of picking stones and roots in the hot sun.
He hunted and fished to help feed the family. He spent many hours cutting wood. Nothing was wasted. The best logs were taken to the local sawmill to be cut into lumber for building corrals and outbuildings. The poorer wood was cut into cordwood to heat the house and to burn in the cattle's water trough heater over winter. A grandson noted, "When we used to go cut wood with him, we would get to the bush, and the first thing he would do was make a fire for tea and lunch." He worked hard but always took a break for lunch and a rest. He knew how to enjoy the simple things.
When the smaller rural schools in the area amalgamated, he drove a school van transporting students to the Oakburn School.
For several years, he also was a municipal councillor in the LGD of Park (now known as Municipality of Harrison Park).
Tom was a social man who enjoyed the company of his many friends and large family. He was quick to invite guests and family to "come in and have lunch" and always made time to visit. After family meals, often a deck of cards came out to play at the kitchen table. Playing cards with him was a rowdy event - his favourite games were Crib, King Pedro, and Sevens (Shimka). Players could count on hearing him say at least once: "I can smell a skunk!", "You're giving me chicken feed, "or "It's going to be "Holla"!"
He loved interacting with the grandkids, especially giving them horsey rides on his foot and feeding them ice cream on a spoon. To celebrate summer birthdays, he would make a bonfire for wiener roasts and this became a family tradition. When the mosquitoes came out, he would add green grass to create his signature smoke smudge to keep them away.
He shared his knowledge of living in the outdoors with the children by showing them what was edible in the wild, the many berries, the root of a bulrush, a crayfish from the lake. He could whittle whistles out of willow branches and shape slingshots.
He had a musical side. He enjoyed carolling heartily with the family after Christmas suppers. He loved playing lively tunes by ear on the guitar or harmonica.
After he retired from farming, he was given the gift of a little Bichon Frise dog named Dnieper. Dnieper became his constant companion. The little white dog slept on his bed at night and went along for many rides when there were medical appointments or day trips.
As his healthcare needs increased, the pleasant faces of the Home Care staff became an important part of his life. In January, 2016, he moved to the Rossburn Personal Care Home. His wife Tena and family visited him often. The family celebrations moved with him. Initially, the lively potluck get-togethers were held in the sunroom at the care home. Later, as the family continued to grow, the Ukrainian National Home in Rossburn became the new Buternowsky celebration space.
Tom will be fondly remembered for his love of hot sweet tea, for his strength and fitness beyond the age of 80, for mashing freshly picked raspberries with sugar and cream, for headstands in the living room, for jingling change in his pockets, and for feeding the children sweets from his, not so secret, candy drawer.
He is survived by his wife Tena; daughter Barbara (Dennis) Rogasky & their children: Tim (Mandy) & children Ella, Jaxen & Lenny, Greg (Lee-Ann) & children Tayla & Jessica, Amy (Kris) Ostash & children Chelsey & Whitney, Matthew (Sabrina) Rogasky & son James; daughter Donna (Chris) Mitchell & their children Ben (Nicole) & children Addison and Nixon, Tia (Eric) Kiez & their children Chloe & Lucas, Dana (John) Bertram & daughter Kate; daughter Sandra (Roland) St. Cyr & their children Jacob, Isaac, Naomi (Nathan) Discusso & Michaela St. Cyr; son Robert (Karen) Buternowsky & their children Connor, Logan, Tyler, Xavier & Gavin Buternowsky; son Barry (Doris) Buternowsky & their children Amber and Megan.
All totalled, his legacy includes 5 children, 18 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren.
His was a life well lived.
To send flowers to Tom's family, please visit our floral store.
Rossburn Personal Care Home
Rossburn MB R0J 1V0
St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery (Seech)
PO Box 532, Rossburn MB R0J 1V0