Posted: December 30th, 2019


John Kolpak, wondrous human, husband, father, musician, photographer and gentle soul, passed away on December 26, 2019, peacefully and without pain.

Born on December 28, 1935 in Nowosiolki, Poland, John lived a loving, caring life centred on Lela, his adoring wife of 57 years, and his three daughters Diana, Kathie and Rita, to whom he passed on his artistic and musical talents. He deeply loved his grandchildren Jenna, Erin, Kieran and Veronica, sons-in-law Michael Melling, Scott Rasmussen and Patrick Leslie, siblings Leonard, Teresa and Henry, and his extended family.

A lover of forests, cars and music, John was a superbly talented accordionist and photographer. He loved to camp, fish, and hunt for mushrooms, especially in Westcastle. His barbecuing skills were second to none.

A proud member of the Lethbridge Polish-Canadian community, John served as president of the Polish-Canadian Association for four years. He and Lela helped countless Polish families who emigrated to Canada, welcoming them to their home, known as “little Poland,” and helping them adjust to lives in a new country.

John had no time for cruelty or inhumanity. He knew firsthand the suffering and horror of war and the wrenching hardships of poverty, displacement and emigration but never complained or sought pity for any of these things. Known as “The Professor,” he engaged in spirited discussions about history, politics and science, delivered regular weather updates and loved to tell goofy jokes.

John worked at the Lethbridge Research Station for over 31 years, beginning as a Technical Photographer and eventually becoming head of the Biographics Unit in 1979, retiring in 1991. In addition to his day job, he was a professional wedding photographer, taught accordion and played in the Rhythmaires at dances throughout Southern Alberta.

A celebration of John’s life will be held on Sunday, December 29th at 4:00 p.m. at the Polish Hall, 745 – 13 Street North, Lethbridge. All are welcome.

Lela and family would like to thank the staff at Extendicare Fairmont Park for their exceptional care and compassion for John throughout his time there.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation or the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

To send a condolence, please visit www.cornerstonefuneralhome.com

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