John Illingworth

Obituary of John Illingworth

May 15, 1943 – October 11, 2020 John was born in 1943 in Balcarres, Saskatchewan, Dad’s long-awaited son after three daughters, during the political fervor that pre-dated the celebrated election in 1944 that saw Tommy Douglas and the CCF sweep to power. Our doctor, Dr. Steele, herself an avid CCFer, whom both mom and dad respected and liked, dubbed John her CCF baby. Throughout his life, John stood for and believed in the core CCF values of equal access to opportunity for everyone in an equitable society. Ernest John (John) Illingworth died October 11th, 2020, at Goodwill Manor, Duck Lake Saskatchewan at the age of 77. He is survived by his sisters Isabel (Peggy) Nesbitt, Linda Pylyshyn and Jean Black, sons Eben Illingworth and David Illingworth, and nieces and nephews. He is pre-deceased by his parents, Isabel (Tib, nee Findlay) and Ernest (Ernie) Illingworth. The Illingworth farm was located 50 miles north of Regina, near Cupar, Saskatchewan. John adapted well to farm and country life from the beginning. He loved being with Dad as he did his chores and was fascinated with the tools of Dad’s trade. The tractor, along with the other implements, was returned to the barnyard at the end of each day and John had to be kept away from it for his own safety. His tricycle became his “tractor” on which he would “plow the fields” for prolonged periods of the day in the farmyard. It was very evident a male child had joined the family. He loved playing with toy cars and trucks on the gravel driveway and often had scraped knees to show for it. He loved playing cowboy and sported chaps, a cowboy hat, little boots, a lasso and a toy six-shooter that Mom and the girls didn’t much like. And he was a boy scout, an activity he and Dad enjoyed together. Grandpa John Illingworth, after whom he was named, lived with us in his own cottage on the farm with Grandma Amy until she passed away when we were very young. John spent many loving hours with Grandpa Illingworth planting the garden and shadowing him in the carpentry shop and just about anywhere Grandpa was whenever he could. John always loved farm and country life. He attended Dellwood school, a little country schoolhouse, for the first six years of his school life. Dolly Louridsen, who was his first- and second-year teacher at Dellwood, and Eugene Mihalicz, who taught him for his last four years at Dellwood, lived in the teacherage on our farm. An idyllic situation really, more like one big family experience. John finished school in Cupar after Dellwood closed, along with the rest of the country schoolhouses, in 1955. He graduated from the new Cupar High School in 1961. One of his teachers was his sister Peggy, who taught John English Lit. in grade 10. John was a good student and showed a talent for creative writing and literary analysis. He was sporty – a long-distance and marathon runner with the track team and on the men’s curling team. After high school, John enrolled in the Vocational Agriculture program at the U. of S. He continued to work on the farm with Dad, seeding and harvesting, while pursuing and after obtaining his vocational diploma. He boarded with Peggy and her husband Royce in Saskatoon while studying at the U. of S. and was the favorite and most fun uncle of all to his nieces and nephews during visits to Granny and Grandpa’s and at the cottage at Lake Katepwa. John’s life took him from Saskatchewan to Ontario and Quebec, following his dreams and good friends. He learned he had a penchant for counselling during a job as a science lab attendant at McGill University where he developed a reputation for being a good listener. He was always very artistic and shared a studio on St. Lawrence Boulevard in the 70’s in Montreal, epicentre of Canada’s thriving art scene, and where he met his first wife, artist Kay Feldmar. After getting married he had various jobs including working in a car plant and for Nortel Industries in its heyday. John and Kay Feldmar had a son, Eben, born in Montreal in 1973. His second son, David, was born in 1981 to John and his second wife, Betsy Webber, in Ottawa. John came back to Saskatoon, where his sister Peggy lives, to spend time with his father at the end of his life. He stayed for several years in Saskatoon before moving to Viscount, a small Saskatchewan town a few miles up the highway, to connect again with his rural roots. His interest in farming, world affairs and political discourse never left him. He remained a CCF baby. After he suffered a stroke, John was moved to Goodwill Manor in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan where he received loving care until the end of his life. Rest in peace beloved brother, father, uncle and friend. Arrangements entrusted to Funk’s Funeral Home, Rosthern, SK
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