Long-time school trustee and football official Ernie Wynychuk died Sunday at age 78 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Wynychuk served on St. Albert’s Protestant school board on three separate occasions beginning in 1977, spending a total of 14 years as a trustee.
“We’re very, very sad — a huge loss to our district,” said chair Morag Pansegrau.
As a former teacher, principal and college instructor, Wynychuk brought a wealth of education knowledge to the board.
“He will be very much missed by all of us. We’ve been so fortunate to have him be our trustee,” Pansegrau said.
Wynychuk grew up in Edmonton and spent his working career teaching physical education in the Edmonton public system. He prefered teaching junior high and was a principal until retiring in 1992. He became a part-time instructor in Grant MacEwan’s education program that same year and continued until last year.
“He really enjoyed working with kids. He loved seeing how they were able to develop,” said son Marcel. “It was truly his passion to help young people reach their potential.”
A former high school quarterback and defensive back, Wynychuk went on to play for the Edmonton Wildcats junior football team before coaching the rival Huskies. He later became an official at various levels ranging from atom to university. He was a timekeeper for the Edmonton Eskimos until about 2007, his family said.
As a trustee, Wynychuk rarely turned down an invitation to events like school concerts.
His extensive community involvement included being an original member of the St. Albert Daycare Society and a long-time member of the Lions. He also sat on the committee that spearheaded the development of St. Albert Place.
“He used to talk about being in high school, he truly was involved in so many different things. Later on in life he just kept living that way. He wanted to be involved in things,” Marcel said.
Wynychuk also loved the arts and the outdoors, said his wife Karin. Everywhere they went in Alberta, the Wynychuks would encounter people who knew Ernie. If they were hiking in the mountains and a stranger asked Wynychuk a question, he would readily abandon his own agenda to play tour guide.
“That was Ernie. He would make friends anywhere and everywhere,” Karin said.
Wynychuk’s funeral was held Thursday afternoon at the St. Albert Funeral Home.
The Protestant board voted Wednesday evening to leave Wynychuk’s seat vacant until Oct. 18, when civic and school board elections are scheduled, Pansegrau said.