Theresa Rose (Rayczakowski) Korpach was born December 12, 1948 to John and Nettie Rayczakowski. She grew up in the Pas Trail district before moving to Nipawin to attend Nipawin Composite High School, graduating in 1967. Upon graduation, Theresa worked in Saskatoon for a few months and then returned to Nipawin to work at the Northern Bakery, until her marriage to Peter Korpach on November 9, 1968. They lived on the family farm east of Carrot River, where they raised their three children. Theresa always grew a large garden and took pride in harvesting and preserving the winter stock: potatoes, beets, pickles, jams, canned fruit, and much more.
The family moved into the town of Carrot River in 1990, although they continued farming. There they developed long time relationships with neighbours and friends, frequently hosting gatherings and participating in block parties and celebrations. Theresa loved company; anyone who came to her door was welcomed into the kitchen for a visit, and she made it her mission to ensure that nobody left hungry. She knew that she could rely on her neighbours whenever she needed help with anything, and that she was always welcome in their homes.
The whole Carrot River community meant a great deal to Theresa. She headed the catering committee for the Canadian Martyrs Roman Catholic Church for many years, and in later years joined the Carrot River branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. She was an active member of the Carrot River Farmer’s Market, and her homemade soups, cabbage rolls and vegetables were very popular. She enjoyed supporting local groups and clubs by attending community events, making donations, and lending a hand where it was needed. For her family, she hosted a legendary annual reunion (“Pickle Weekend”), where her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews could gather, and she could teach younger generations to make borscht and pickles. She took much joy in having all of her family come and spend time with her. Theresa especially cherished the time with her grandchildren, Halen and Paxton. She was proud to be a Baba to the boys and eager to show them how to make all the traditional Ukrainian dishes.
Theresa enjoyed traveling and continued to visit the family vacation spot in Florida for many years after Peter passed away in 2000. She also took many road trips to visit and stay with family and friends across Canada, and her van was usually stocked with all the fixings to make fresh perogies and cabbage rolls at destinations along the way.
Theresa is predeceased by her husband Peter, her parents, and her four siblings. She is survived by her three children: Edward (Ryan), Carolyn (David), and Alicia (Len), and two grandchildren: Halen and Paxton. She leaves a large family of beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, great nieces and nephews and endless friends.
Our Friend Theresa
My name is Warren Pridham and like so many people in this community, I had the privilege to call Theresa Korpach a friend. It is my honour to share some memories of Theresa with you.
Theresa grew up on a farm in the Hollywood community NE of Nipawin. When I asked about which school she went to, I was surprised that she had not started in a country school but rode the bus to Nipawin for all of her education. She would have been one of the first rural students in this area that didn’t walk to the closest country school for at least part of her education. This also meant she was the first generation of parents in this country that couldn’t tell her children about walking to school when it was 40 below zero and uphill both ways.
Theresa met Peter at Vince and Sandra Baraniski’s wedding dance. Theresa told me the bachelors sat on one side of the room and the single girls sat on the other side of the hall. I asked her how she got to dance with Peter, she smiled and said that it was kind of by mutual consent; I am guessing they had caught each other’s eye across the room. The next weekend, there was a wedding dance in Aylsham that they attended, and the courtship was underway.
Theresa and Peter were married in November 1968. At this time, the Korpach family were still cutting logs in the bush during the winter months to supplement their farm income. Theresa took on cooking for their bush crew in the winter camp. She told me she married one and cooked for six. Given Theresa’s cooking skills, the crew would have been very well provided for.
As Theresa and Peter’s family started and grew, Theresa thrived in her role as a homemaker. Her love of cooking, gardening and her green thumb all contributing to her enjoyment in looking after her children and Peter. Her role in the farm kept developing as well. Theresa, of course, was called on to help with trucking grain in harvest and ferrying men and equipment around the farm. She played a vital role in grain marketing as well for the farm. In those days, farmers didn’t have market information at their fingertips on their smartphone. Grain prices were broadcast on the radio in the morning and early afternoon; most equipment didn’t have a radio either, so it was Theresa’s job to keep track of the prices on the radio because Peter was in the field. She still kept this up for a few years after she rented out her land; if you stopped in for coffee, she would pull her notepad off the hook on the wall and tell you what the price of canola was that day.
Theresa also took on record keeping for the farm; no small task as this was not your average family farm of that time; the Korpach farm enterprise was a major business. She told me about when she started to go to the accounting office in Melfort with Peter and Walter to go over the farm books. She continued in that role until the farming operations were wound up.
When Theresa and Peter built their new house in Carrot River, their love of company and entertaining was very apparent in the design. The large rumpus room in the basement was perfect for hosting their friends. Ed, Carolyn and Lisa were still at home when the house was built, and the basement was the perfect place to gather with their school friends. Theresa loved having her children and their friends socializing downstairs (good way to keep tabs) and you just know that Theresa was the “Mom” that all the kids gravitated to.
Theresa and Peter built their house on Fir Crescent, affectionately known as “The Block”. The reason it had that designation was because it was the ultimate neighborhood. Fir Crescent had a Block BBQ in the summer, a Block Christmas Party and a Block bake exchange just to name some of the social events that took place regularly. Theresa was an integral part of the heart and soul of the Block and always at the forefront in organizing events and making sure everyone enjoyed. It was just in her make up to be entertaining and ensuring people enjoyed life. I had the good fortune to live on the Block for a few years and experience firsthand everything that Theresa contributed to the neighborhood. Theresa put this same level of energy into all the community and church projects she was involved with as well; working on the Catholic fall supper and Christmas bake sale were highlights for her every year.
After Peter passed away, Theresa and Walter decided to rent out their farmland; she asked me to rent some of the land and thus started a twenty-year business relationship intertwined with friendship. Theresa always maintained her interest in farming; a summer crop tour was enjoyed for many years, and she always wanted to know where we had peas planted so that she could pick some when they were podding. At harvest time, I would let her know when we were working on her land, and she would come out to the field. Of course, Theresa came with snacks – for everyone (and we have a large crew) but she always ensured there was extra. She would spend a couple hours riding in a combine with Jason or hop in a semi with me to haul grain to the yard. Her arrival at the field always made the day for our crew; it was so good to see her in the field. She also never forgot the menace of weather to a farmer; we lost a crop the second year we rented her land, and she was very concerned if we would make it through all right. Stopping in to visit Theresa to drop off rent cheques or just give her an update on the crop was always enjoyable. As soon as you sat down at the kitchen table, the food would come out and we would quite often enjoy a rum. If you indicated you were about to leave after one drink, Theresa would immediately say, “You can’t fly on one wing” and a second drink would be poured. It was my favourite saying of Theresa’s.
The first year the land was rented out, Theresa hosted “The Harvest Wind Up” for all of the tenants and their employees as well. It was a massive undertaking but of course she undertook it with her usual zest and made it an amazing get together. She continued this tradition for her tenants over all these years; there was always something new on the menu such as bison or arctic char as well as her specialties such as pyrohy and nalysnyky. It was always an absolute feast with so much food that regardless of how many attended, everyone took home a plate of leftovers. A wonderful evening of food, visiting and laughter, the things Theresa lived for. Theresa wasn’t able to get to the field this harvest to watch the combines, but we were able to enjoy one last Harvest Wind Up together. As always, she was her elegant self, welcoming her tenants and their crews and ensuring that proper thanks were given to everyone involved.
Everyone knows that Theresa loved life and people. Carolyn and Lisa told me that when they would come home for a few days, they were always amazed at how busy their mom was. Either the doorbell was ringing with someone stopping in or the telephone was ringing with a friend calling. She travelled the world; Carolyn commented that when they were looking at photo albums, there were pictures from destinations she had forgotten her mom travelled to. Theresa enjoyed winters in Florida with her friends in the condo association. She spent a month in Scotland with George and Yvonne Taylor when the Taylors were on a work exchange with a Scottish teacher; they travelled all over the Scottish countryside on weekends when George wasn’t working and during the week, Yvonne and she would explore the local area. Theresa also got to travel with her sister in later years. She told me she got to know her sister better when they were older; they had time to spend together after their children were grown. Her favourite story of travelling with her sister was the two-week trip to Hawaii; they were having so much fun that they stayed an extra two weeks.
Theresa thoroughly enjoyed having family visit and that led to the creation of another annual event; “Pickle Weekend” was held every year in late fall. Nieces, nephews and her children; whoever could make it for the weekend arrived to work, visit and laugh. The boys would clean up the garden for the fall; pickles would be made and of course, there would be no shortage of food; everyone enjoyed. She looked forward to it every fall and it was always fun to hear her report of how the weekend had gone.
Theresa’s love of life was matched by the courage with which she faced this last battle. I remember when my father was diagnosed with cancer, the Dr. told him how important attitude is. The Dr. commented that he had patients come into his office in very good physical condition, but when told they had cancer, they just nose dived for no reason other than they let their minds get the best of them. Theresa was never like that; from the beginning when she was diagnosed, she took her treatments in stride and continued as if life was as close to normal as possible. When it become apparent that treatments would no longer help, she accepted that as well and set about ensuring she got to have as many friends and family as possible visit her. When she asked me to give her eulogy, I replied how honoured I was but also how sad that we had to plan for it. She replied, “we all have to die sometime Warren”. Her attitude was truly inspiring. When we last visited her in the home, we shared some stories and as we were leaving, she said, I kind of feel like a fraud in here taking up a bed; I feel good, and the food is wonderful. I think throughout all of this, her faith must have been so strong to face this with so much dignity.
Theresa was an amazing person; she dedicated her life to her family, she lived life to the fullest, was generous beyond belief, the consummate hostess and a friend to everyone. Amazing hardly begins to describe her.
In closing I am going to borrow a song title from Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers to describe how I feel:“You Can’t Make Old Friends”; Theresa, we will never have another friend like you! We miss you already.