John Smale passed away on January 26th, 2023, at the age of 88 years. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 65 years, Diana Smale; daughters, Louise (John) Enns and Loretta (Daryl) Martin; grandchildren, Nichol (Jeff), Travis (Kara), Curtis (April), Colby (Courtney) and Jeff (Matricia); great grandchildren, Samantha (Chace), Tobias, Jean, Xander, Ryen, Lily and Luna; brother, Richard (Diane) Smale; brother-in-law, Merlin (Karen); sisters-in-law, Dorothy, Nancy, Joann (Don) and June; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
John was predeceased by his parents, John Smale (1956) and Eva Smale (1943); foster mother, Gladys Carson-Ernest (1997); sisters, Evelyn, Rose and Jean.
John was born near Handley, SK. John was known for being a man of many talents. He grew up in Moose Jaw where he learned to work hard. Whether helping sell radishes or other vegetables from the garden to local stores or gathering slop to feed the pigs so his family would have food. His hard work and people skills were being honed. He was given responsibilities that built his confidence. Even after loosing his mother at an early age and seeing his younger siblings sent to live with another family, he managed to keep his determination and fight. When he was given the opportunity to move to Maple Creek to a Foster home, he came with very few belongings but did his best to work hard to prove his worth. Being little in stature never deterred him from trying new adventures. Whether that be saddle bronc riding, bareback riding or jockeying race horses he did well, placing 2nd and 3rd in a rodeo as a young man of 23. That is where he met his wife to be. Her dad wanted the “Little guy” to ride his race horses. The rest of their story lasted for 65 years. He was Diana’s caregiver to the end and hated the thought of leaving her.
Working on a few ranches in the district of Murrydale gave him enough experience to apply to work at One Four Experimental Station. There he gathered more knowledge of cattle. He also made many lifelong friends. He put his daughter’s priorities first. They moved to Medicine Hat for a job so his girls could attend school. They lived 5 miles south on the black and white trail. He again made many lifelong friends in the community of Long Fellow.
The family would attend local dances and John was a great dancer! “The best” my moms says! From there the family moved to S & T Feedlot located at the north end of Police Point Park in the late 60s. He didn’t get much time off but when he did the family would load up and head back to Saskatchewan to be with family.
He was well liked by all who knew him. Had a great sense of humor and became a storyteller. Every life event has life lessons and people who he remembered left big impressions on him. He went on to work at the old Medicine Hat Beef Plant until his shoulders gave out. From there he tried working at IGA in the meat department but found it hard to cater to picky people, he had no patience for them. Patience wasn’t his strong suit. So, he branched into carpentry. This is where he really shone. Eventually he became a master finish carpenter and would take on any project. Mom and Dad built their own home in East Glen in 1980. He would watch the pros do their thing and soon learned that it wasn’t that complicated and would try it himself. Eventually all the neighbours called on his expertise to help them when needed. Even in his 80s he tended to people’s properties. Around that time, he got a computer and a tablet which opened him up to a whole world of farming videos he watched daily. It also gave him the opportunity to check out new tools and wood working skills to dream about. When he wasn’t in his shop, he would be out meeting people in his neighbourhood. He didn’t meet very many he didn’t like to talk with.
Through the years he took up fishing and it became not just a hobby but a passion. He loved being in the outdoors whether it be at Reesor Lake, Tilley Brook Dam, Rattlesnake Dam or Elkwater Lake. He was known to always catch the big one! He was very competitive and loved entering many fishing tournaments. He especially loved taking his grandchildren out to teach them too. But no one could out catch Grampa! Later in life he hated the fact he could no longer go ice fishing. Each winter he was just itching to get out on the ice. As time went on, he could not sell his fishing equipment as it meant too much to him.
John enjoyed playing cards and once they moved into a condo, he could be found every morning down at the card table with his crib buddies. Oh, how he loved to skunk you. And in the afternoon, he spent his time kibitzing with the “Hens” at coffee time or roaming around the area in his power scooter. He bought a meat smoker, sausage maker and gas BBQ to spice up his meals. Mom wasn’t sure she should let him into her kitchen!
He was one of a kind and will be greatly missed by all his family and friends. Say a cheer for John who left us with many memories to keep close to our heart. He will be missed.
The family would like to thank Dr. Douglas Mastel for 30+ years of being John’s physician and friend. A thank you to Dr. Ahmad, ER doctors and staff, 5th floor nurses, kidney dialysis department and staff at St Joseph's Carmel Hospice.
There will be no formal service held, as per John’s wishes.
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