Published in The Chronicle Journal, Thunder Bay, Ontario on Friday, November 30, 2012
(Received from Gerry Bonnefoy)
Nawrocki, aged 78, of Thunder Bay, Ontario, passed away on Wednesday,
November 28, 2012 after a long and valiant battle with cancer.
Mike was born in 1934 and raised near Tisdale, a small grain farming community in northeastern Saskatchewan. His parents John and Pauline had four children including Mike, his brother Orest and sisters Jean and Della.
While he loved the land and was very proud of his home prairie province (and his "Green Roughriders"), other opportunities were beckoning. Mike learned about the field of radio communications and the growing need for skilled operators and technicians. He enrolled in the Radio College of Canada in Montreal and upon graduation, was employed by Canada's Department of Communications as an inspector.
He married Marion Jean Rowland of Saskatoon in 1957 and they started their life's journey together. Mike's career involved many moves. At times, they resided in Winnipeg, Churchill (on the shore of Hudson Bay) and Regina, eventually moving to Thunder Bay (Port Arthur) in 1965.
Mike loved his wife and family very much, but he also had three other passions in his life - airplanes, amateur ("ham") radio and his little piece of tranquility at the cottage on Castor Island, Lake Shebandowan.
After settling in Thunder Bay, Mike's job took him to many remote parts of Northwestern Ontario where he worked with local communities, businesses and government agencies to establish radio and satellite communications systems. These trips often involved travel by small plane and introduced him to such immortal aircraft as the Beaver and the Otter. In later years, you could always find Mike at the airport on a weekday afternoon, watching the planes and listening on his scanner to the chatter between the pilots and the control tower. He was also a big fan of the Ice Pilots NWT and Flying Wild Alaska television shows.
Ham radio was a natural extension of Mike's career training and he quickly achieved his advanced certificate and his legendary "VE3ZG" call sign. In the days before the internet, ham radio was a window to the world. Mike made many friends and contacts across Canada and the US and in far away countries. He ran countless telephone "patches" over his ham radio to connect loved ones at special times of the year like Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. He was an active member of the Lakehead Amateur Radio Club and regularly volunteered to provide radio communications support for annual events like the Santa Claus parade, the Sibley Ski Tour (Sleeping Giant Loppet) and the Caribou Charity Ride. Mike was also a member of the extended communications support team for the 1995 World Nordic Ski Championships in Thunder Bay.
Mike's third passion was his cottage property at Lake Shebandowan which he and Marion acquired in 1970 as their sanctuary. Over the years, Mike demonstrated his considerable engineering and carpentry skills. He built two major additions to the cottage as well as sheds, decks, docks and trails, all to accommodate his growing family. He enjoyed catching pickerel in the quiet summer evenings and loved frying up the fillets with eggs and toast the next morning. Mike was an executive of the Lake Shebandowan Campers Association for more than 25 years. At various times he was its president, treasurer or secretary. He published the "Loon Call" newsletter and kept the Association's members informed about all things related to the lake.
Mike is survived by his wife Marion, his children Robb (Gwen) of Thunder Bay, John (Gisele) of Toronto, Chris (Laura) of Grimsby, Ontario, his grandchildren Sam, Andy and Ben of Grimsby and many nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his sister Jean (Sherman) of Oliver B.C., and his brother Orest (Lucille) of Regina, Saskatchewan. Mike was predeceased by his parents John and Pauline and his sister Della.
Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, December 1st, 2012 in the Chapel of the HARBOURVIEW FUNERAL CENTRE, 499 North Cumberland Street, officiated by Rev. Lloyd Ivany. Visitation for family and friends will be offered one hour prior to service time. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that Mike's friends consider a donation to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, the Salvation Army or a charity of their choice.
Mike's family would like to thank Dr. Chan and the entire staff at the Regional Cancer Care Centre for the wonderful treatment and support they provided during his journey with the disease. They would also like to express their deepest appreciation to the dedicated team on 4 North at the St. Joseph's Hospice for the care and compassion he received during his final days.