Homesteader and longtime Silver Valley farmer, Donald Joseph Seekins, passed away June 28, 2017 at the age of 80, in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
Don is survived by his wife of 32 years, Jane Manning, his children; Mitch Seekins (Nicole), Burlington, ON; Susie Seekins (Craig Miller), Victoria, BC; Patti Dipanfilo (Mario) Edmonton, AB and Steve Seekins (Kathy), Grande Prairie, AB and much beloved grandchildren; Roxanne, Tarah, Noelle and Grayden Seekins; Matteo and Dontae Dipanfilo; and Liam and Mable Seekins. He is also survived by his brother, Rick Seekins and sister, Starley Kolody.
Don, known as 'Donnie' to his farm neighbours, was born March 30, 1937 in Lethbridge, AB and moved to the Silver Valley as a teenager in 1954 with his parents Joe and Elsie Seekins.
Don remained in the Valley for the next three decades, homesteading on a section of bush land with first wife, Freda. Along with their four children, they spent many seasons breaking the land and picking rocks and roots.
He always had two dogs on the farm, one to protect the farm animals from coyotes, the other as an indoor pet. Of his last dog and devoted friend, five pound poodle Zack, Don claimed he “had more toys than all the farm dogs put together”.
After his first wife died in a collision in 1976, he became a single parent for the next ten years, with the occasional housekeeper passing through. Don always viewed his children as his greatest accomplishment.
He served on the Improvement District #20 Council for three terms in the 70s and 80s, and two terms on the Grande Prairie Health Unit Board, where he met second wife, Jane Manning, who arrived in Grande Prairie in 1982 as Director of Public Health Nursing.
The two began dining together when Don was in Grande Prairie for Health Unit meetings. They were married in July, 1985.
Moving to Grande Prairie was a challenge for Don after the hard years of farming. He worked with Culligan, then became a partner in the Beachcomber franchise. After leaving Beachcomber, he started his own small business as the Tub Doctor, then sold the business after three years to a couple who still thank him for their success.
In the mid-80s, Don downsized the farm to the home quarter, renting out the farming acres. Then in 2015 made the difficult decision to finally sell the farm, but took comfort from knowing the land was going to a new generation of farmers and sharing some of the money with his children, “as compensation for all the chores they'd done and the rocks and roots they'd picked.”
Don enjoyed gardening after settling in Grande Prairie and smiled when city-raised Jane rushed home the first few years she planted vegetables to see what was coming up!
It is his smile we'll remember.
Don’s funeral service will be Tuesday July 4th, 2017 at 2 pm at Trinity Lutheran Church, 10407 100 Street in Grande Prairie. A viewing will be held at the church at 1 pm. Flowers gratefully declined. Don wished that memorial donations be made to the Canadian Cancer Society www.cancer.ca.
Care entrusted to Bear Creek Funeral Home 780-830-7742 www.bearcreekfuneral.com