5 August, 1924 – 8 March, 2021
As the result of a stroke at the age of 96, Alex, father of Kathy and Mark, passed away at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg on March 8, 2021.
The fourth, and last surviving, of the eight children born to Robert and Mary (nee Peters) DeGroot, Alex was born in West Kildonan (Winnipeg) on August 5, 1924. He, his two sisters and five brothers spent the majority of their childhood years in North Kildonan on McKay Avenue, Sutton Avenue and later on King Street (now known as Plessis Road) where the family had a market garden. He was a hard worker from a young age and had a strong work ethic. Alex had various jobs as a young man. At the age of thirteen he worked at the Eastern Terminal Grain Elevator tending to the grain and loading grain onto railcars. One of his jobs involved upholstering and refinishing furniture that provided him with skills that he later used to create items of furniture for his family. In 1953 he began his employment as a switchman with Canadian National Railways, retiring in December of 1986 as a car retarder operator. He has often been heard remarking that he “was married to the railway.” Working night or evening shifts was a part of thirty-three years of his work life. During these years he used his spare time to construct two homes (Highway 59 and Dunrobin Avenue) for his family, repair motor vehicles, maintain a grain farm, “fix” things and pursue hobbies in wood and metal work.
He was a private in the Canadian Army from October, 1943 to May, 1946. Initially the army had been hesitant to accept him into the service due to a severe injury that he had sustained to one of his hands when working at the grain elevator but he demonstrated sufficient strength to convince them to accept him. In his later life he liked to recall the time spent in training near Smithers, BC where he climbed all three peaks of the Hudson Bay Mountain. From a young age he voiced that he was “proud to be a Canadian.”
Alex married Catherine Mary Ritchey on February 23, 1946. They resided in Winnipeg until retiring to Sidney, BC in 1990. He and Mary enjoyed travelling to Europe, Hawaii, South Africa and across Canada. During his 34 years of retirement Alex built two houses (Bourne Terrace and Bradford Avenue) on Vancouver Island and enjoyed making/fixing things in his work shop/garage. He skillfully used large power tools as well as small hand tools to craft items such as cedar-strip canoes, rocking chairs and plant stands some of the items by which his family have to remember him.
Following Mary’s passing in July of 2013 he moved back to Winnipeg and has resided at Thorvaldson Care Center since June, 2015, where he has received exemplary care. The Family would like to thank, nurse Ryann, the administrators and staff of Thorvaldson’s for their wonderful care and thoughtfulness/consideration of Alex. He often commented, “doing nothing is a hard thing,” as instead of working he was spending his later retirement years reading and doing jigsaw/Sudoku puzzles.
Alex was predeceased by: his wife, Mary, of 67 years; his parents, his step-mother, Cora Stolwyk; his siblings: Ina (George) Mann, George (Helen) DeGroot, Corrie (Steve) Stelmack, Bob (Dot) DeGroot, Stan (Alma) DeGroot, Norman (Edna) DeGroot, and Charlie DeGroot; nephews Russel, Andy, Ken and Darren DeGroot, niece Carol Nickerson; his parents-in-law Melville and Catherine Ritchey; his sisters-in-law: Dora (Robert) Gray, Florence (Bill) Savage; his step-granddaughter: Wanda Skoworodko and his son-in-law Don MacIver.
He is survived by his children: Kathleen MacIver and Professor Mark (Dr. Jacqui) DeGroot; his grandchildren: Meaghan, Erin (Kyle) and Paul; his step-grandchildren: Brittany, Marion (Edd), John, Rod, Ian, Diane (Hans) and Lorrie (Lori); his great-grandchildren: Juliet, Max, and Jameson; his sister-in-law Judy DeGroot, as well as nieces and nephews and extended family.
Due to COVID19 restrictions, a celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a donation in memory of Alex, please consider his favorite charity: Friends of Elmwood Cemetery Inc. (88 Hespeler Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R2L 0L3) or a charity of your choice. Alex made occasional visits to the Elmwood Cemetery where his grandparents (Peter and Cornelia DeGroot), his mother, nephew Russell and other members of his extended family are interred. The maintenance and restoration of this historic cemetery to a state of dignity and natural beauty was a cause he was keen to support.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
2 April 2021
We are truly sorry to hear of the loss of Mr. Alexander DeGroot. Please accept our sincere condolences.
From all the Kitchen staff of Thorvaldson Care Center.
13 March 2021
Uncle Alex was a man of such integrity. I have so many fond memories of him. The times we spent together as a family, time time he a I drove out to East Selkirk when he told me how proud he was of all his nieces and nephews. He was always available to lend a helping hand. He never forgot the time he cut my hair and I never forgot how is his eighties he was crawling on the roof of our house clearing away the snow. He never turned down a challenge. I know he and my Dad (Steve) are up in heaven planning on building something. Your devoted niece Colleen