John Robert LITKE
September 17, 1926 – May 24, 2019
In the presence of family, John R. Litke passed away in the afternoon of Friday, May 24, 2019 at the Barrhead Healthcare Center. He leaves to mourn his loss his wife of 68 years, Wanda; sister Kathy (Keith) Wright of Sherwood Park and brother Stanley (Pat) Litke of Calgary; three sons Dean (Delores) Litke of Barrhead, Jay (Pat Lagore) Litke of Calgary, Del (Denise) Litke of High River; one daughter Heather (Karl) Baker of Barrhead; seven wonderful grandchildren – Derek, Deanna, Christopher, Jacqueline, Brittany, Kyle and Eden; and nine precious great-grandchildren. John was predeceased by his father Jack, his mother Louise and his brother Norman. John was born and raised in Hanna, Alberta. Like most people living through the Great Depression on the prairies, John was greatly influenced by these difficult times of hardship, developing a thirst for success, a tremendous work ethic and great resiliency. As a young man, John moved to Calgary to begin to seek his way in the world. John enjoyed his time in Calgary during the post World War II boom. When working for a prominent clothier in downtown Calgary, John met a young bank teller from Innisfail, Alberta – Wanda Kirkham - and the young couple fell in love. They were married on December 22, 1950 at the home of Wanda’s parents in Innisfail. Opportunity called from Robinson, Little and Company to move up to Grande Prairie, Alberta to service the area as a dry goods salesman for the booming Peace River area. John fondly remembered the small towns, dusty roads and colorful characters of the Mighty Peace. In Grande Prairie, the young couple also welcomed their first child John Christopher Dean on March 2, 1952, and two years later, Lawrence Jay joined the young family on September 4, 1954. As much as John loved working on the road, the family sought more permanence, and in 1957 John and his partners bought a men’s wear store in Barrhead, Alberta from local businessman Frie Bredo. The renamed store, John’s Mens Wear, quickly became an integral part of the Barrhead business community, and it remains so today under the direction of John’s son-in-law, Karl Baker. At the helm of his own business for the first time, John put into effect the lessons he learned both from the clothing businesses in the competitive downtown Calgary market and from his travels throughout the Peace Country, to create a special kind of store. Over the years, John’s Men’s Wear developed its excellent reputation not only for its quality merchandise and excellent service, but also for it being a social hub for lively conversations about sports, politics, business, farming and current events. Additionally, two more children joined the family in Barrhead: Cary Del in July of 1958 and, finally, Heather Dawn in March of 1965. John was an avid promoter of the Barrhead community, particularly in the areas of sports and business. He was involved in the creation of the Barrhead Jr. Elks hockey club and sponsored the Barrhead Blue Jays for a few years as well as many minor sports teams. In the community, he volunteered for many projects as a member of Kinsmen and K 40’s. He also was highly engaged in the Progressive Conservative Party for the Barrhead constituency in support of his close friend, MLA Dr. Hugh Horner. In addition, he was the Chairmen of the Barrhead Police Commission for a number of years and was quick to volunteer for ad hoc committees that helped host events or complete projects for the town of Barrhead. John’s connections and sense of citizenship also took him outside town affairs. Provincially, he sat on Board of Directors for Alberta Terminals Ltd., and nationally, he became the President of the Retail Merchants Association of Canada. He was also appointed to a Federal Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce committee as an advisor on textile and clothing, the first time anyone from the small business sector had been appointed. During their “golden years” John and Wanda loved to travel, visiting Europe, the Caribbean, Eastern Canada and Hawaii, often accompanied by one their life-long “couple” friends: Don and Pat Sharp, Hugh and Jean Horner or Sam and Pauline Huculak. The last number of years of travel took them to Palm Desert, California for a couple winter months – “but only after the sale in January!” They also loved to host their expanding family, especially their beloved grandchildren, at their cottage at Thunder Lake in the summer. The last few years, unfortunately, were tougher for John as deteriorating health and age, plus Wanda’s dementia put an end to travel and much of his ability to connect with his community friends. In the big picture, however, by any measure the determined prairie boy had a long and successful life. He fittingly left this world with his customary grace in the presence of loving family members and in the community that he embraced and served so well.
- Celebration of Life Saturday, June 1, 2019
John Robert LITKE
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June 1, 2019
Dear Litke Family,
I want to thank you and especially John for the employment he gave to me as a shy young lady from Neerlandia. He showed me confidence that I could do the job he wanted me to in his store in Barrhead. He was kind and generous. I hemmed a lot of dress pants!
Love and sympathies to all as you grieve his passing!
May 31, 2019
On behalf of the Hamilton family, I would like to express my condolences to the Litke family on the passing of their patriarch, John Robert Litke or I always said, Mr. Litke.
John was an incredible influence in my formative years growing up in Barrhead in the 1960's and 1970's. He was the baseball coach that nurtured my love of the game. I spent many hours watching sports over at the Litke's with my friend Del and his dad, Mr. Litke. Sometimes we even cheered for the same team!
Most importantly, whenever I would stop by John's Mens Wear, Mr. Litke would always come out of his office and say a few words. Of course a lot of the times I would not necessarily agree with what he said, but I always respected him.
Thank-you John for everything. I know I not only speak for myself, but the larger community of Barrhead.
Bruce & Janice Steinbring
May 30, 2019
John was a business leader in Barrhead for many years as well as a community volunteer in many roles.
The morning coffee group always was a highlight for many people, including my dad Hank Sanderman. More than once, Bruce & I sought advice from John who actually allowed me into his office .
May 29, 2019
Like countless others I walked into John’s Mens Wear many, many times when I lived in that part of the world, and "Mr. Litke" always had a smile and a kind greeting. And what a life! He was a huge part of the Barrhead community for many years.
All our best to the Litke family.