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With aching hearts and intense sadness we announce the passing of Garry William Zelasek of Morningside, Alberta. Garry passed away peacefully, in the loving arms of his wife Michelle, on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at the age of 56 years.
Garry was born in Rimbey, Alberta on January 18, 1967, to Harvey and Sharon Zelasek, the eldest child and a brother to Greg and Michelle. Growing up, Garry and Greg were not only brothers, but were the best of friends. They spent time doing many things together: motorbiking, skidooing, fishing, hunting, and camping – just to mention a few. However, Garry always said the best times they had were when they went down to the river valley.
Garry was a very competitive athlete and participated in many sports. He enjoyed an array of school sports, as well as golfing, slow pitch, and – of course – his passion for hockey! Garry played hockey all through his childhood, up to and including his time playing Junior B hockey for the Rimbey West Stars, and finishing in more recent years with the Senior Men’s League. He absolutely loved hockey; especially when cheering for his favourite team, the Edmonton Oilers, and when engaging in a fun rivalry with Greg, who is a Flames fan. For a couple of years, Garry was also an outrider on the chuckwagon racing circuit – racing for his chosen second family, the Mayans.
Throughout his career, Garry was employed for various companies. He enjoyed his employment with the Rimbey Co-op, All Structures, Teak Oilfield, PCS, NAL, and lastly, for Tamarack. It did not matter what job Garry had, he always worked hard and was a great co-worker. He continuously said that he loved his job – and he really meant it!
In 1990 Garry married his high school sweetheart Michelle Bushey, and shortly thereafter they were blessed with three boys Justin, Lance, and Nathan. He was very proud of his boys. Garry loved to tease them and make them laugh – and, oh boy, that laugh of his was contagious! Garry was the happiest when he was outside with his family, camping, fishing, hunting, playing with his granddaughters, or being competitive in any type of family game.
In December of 2020, Garry was diagnosed with ALS. Even when he received this devastating news, he never let this horrific disease define who he was. Garry always had a smile on his face, a joke to tell, a poke to give, and a laugh beyond measure. He was the first person in Canada with ALS to volunteer for the Capture ALS Study – a study that is trying to find a cure by taking spinal fluid for research. Garry’s doctor told him that he was the pioneer for this project, and that his number would be, like, 000001! Garry just laughed! He never hesitated when they asked if he was interested in participating in a research study, he just responded with a “yes”! His thoughts were: “I might not find a cure for me, but maybe it could help someone else with a cure, or at least give them a longer life with a slower progression.” Garry was very selfless when it came to the ALS studies, and he was participating in as many as he could. Then he suffered a fall in 2022, and endured a brain bleed that needed to be operated on. After this unfortunate fall, Garry was no longer allowed to participate in the studies because they did not know if his progression was because of ALS, or due to complications of his fall. Garry was distressed that he could not continue with the research; however, even with all of the setbacks and his terminal diagnosis, he still maintained an optimistic view on life and never once did he say, “Why me?”
Garry is survived by his ever-loving wife and best friend of almost 33 years, Michelle; and his sons Justin, Lance (Braelyn), and Nathan (Shelby); as well as five cherished granddaughters Scarlett, Harper, Sarah, Esmé, and Sophia – whom Garry loved beyond measure. Those little girls made him laugh so much, especially when they would rip off his slippers and tickle his feet! He is also survived by his mother Sharon (Johnny) Nobel; his brother Greg (Susan) Zelasek; and his sisters-in-law Melody (Bob) Hansen, and Myla (Brian) Hansen; in addition to numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, other family members, and many great friends. Garry was predeceased by his father Harvey; his sister Michelle; parents-in-law Wilfred and Amy Bushey; his sister-in-law Sharon Bushey; brother-in-law David Bushey; and his sister- and brother-in-law Winnie and Gene Norstrom.
A public Memorial Service in Celebration of Garry’s Life was held at the Zion Lutheran Church, Rimbey on Thursday, June 8, 2023, at 11:00 a.m., with Pastor Mark Schultz officiating. If friends desire, memorial tributes in Garry’s memory may be made directly to the ALS Society of Alberta, 7874 – 10 Street NE, Calgary, Alberta T2E 8W1 (www.alsab.ca). Thoughts and messages to the family may be shared through the condolence area located at the bottom of this page.
Service and Cremation Arrangements for the Late Garry William Zelasek entrusted to the care of