Walter (Sonny) Roy Pollock
March 6, 1930-November 7, 2023.
Our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Walter (Sonny) Pollock passed away at the Portage and District Hospital, after a brief illness, at the age of 93 years.
Sonny will be forever remembered and loved by his wife Anna, of 68 years; daughter Jo-Anna (Steve); sister Deanne (Ray), brother Donnie (Bonnie†) and brother-in-law George (Carolyn†); grandchildren and great-grandchildren always held a special place in Sonny’s heart. He will also be missed by numerous extended family and friends. He was predeceased by his parents John and Doris Pollock and his son and best friend, Daniel (Danny) Michael John Pollock.
Sonny was born in Portage la Prairie and from a young age, became an entrepreneur. As a youngster, he collected metal objects in his little wagon, in exchange for spending money. In high school he got up at 4:30 am, rode his bike to the Portage Peony Farm and collected bouquets of gladiolus and peonies, to sell at the Portage Train Station. Once Sonny turned 16 years of age, he discovered a love of cars, owning over 32 cars in as many years. At 15 years of age, he travelled to Yorkton, SK to pursue his dream of becoming a hockey player. He graduated from the Portage Collegiate, playing every sport possible, but especially, baseball, where they travelled to community ball tournaments. Later in life, he played for the liniment baseball league, then curling and golf became his passions. Sonny loved a good joke and his sense of humour got him out of many a situation! After high school, Sonny joined the Bank of Nova Scotia and worked in Portage la Prairie, Dauphin and Emerson. In 1952, Sonny took over the management of Kent’s Accordian Studio, giving Accordian lessons. In 1953, he opened The Portage Music and Variety Store, with Some of the memorable events included selling all of his hard-picks to the Country artist Johnny Cash, on his Canadian Tour. He also sold the first Matel Barbie Doll in 1959.
In 1955, Sonny married Anna Joyce Wawrykow, having met in the church choir, and as Sonny says, “Anna chased me until I caught her!” Sonny became an Associate Member of the Officer’s Mess at Southport, where he developed many long-standing friendships. In 1960, the development of Koko Platz occurred, and Sonny and Anna purchased one of the first 4 properties, and built their dream home. In 1961, Jo-Anna was born and later loved to run across the huge front lawn to greet Daddy home from work and played in the playhouse, built in the backyard. In 1962, he negotiated to install the first TV’s, with remote controls, allowing 3 channels, into the patient’s rooms at the Portage and District General Hospital. In 1963, Sonny, in partnership with his cousin Ted Jaworski, purchased the Brunswick Hotel in Moose Jaw, SK. Off the family went to their next adventure. In 1965, his beloved son, Dan was born and he became the best playmate and brother, completing their family. Sonny and Danny enjoyed many activities together, as best pals. In 1967, an opportunity came up to own and operate the Portage Hotel. For 16 years, the family worked diligently, to make the hotel a success. Family and friends came to celebrate Weddings, Anniversaries, dignitaries came from other countries, they hosted Roland Michener, the Governor General of Canada, Robert Stanfield, the Premier of Nova Scotia and his wife and entertained celebrities such as Al Waxman. Sonny was a long-time member of the Manitoba Hotel Association and sat on the Sponsoring Committee for the RCAF Cadets. Community was always an important aspect in Sonny’s love of Portage so when the Portage Terriers brought home the Centennial Cup in 1973, he hosted a Prime Rib dinner celebration. He also sponsored numerous sports teams in the community. Sonny created numerous businesses in the hotel basement including Sonny’s Rentals, becoming a top-seller of Panasonic TV’s in Manitoba (earning him a trip to Japan to tour the Panasonic factory and meet the President) and purchased the first Custom Radius sharpening machine, sharpening the Terrier Hockey Team’s and Portage Figure Skating Club’s skates. Always enjoying a great BBQ steak, Sonny opened Portage’s first Cook-Your-Own Steak Pit. Following the sale of the Portage Hotel, Sonny re-invented himself yet again and in 1982, built and opened Sonny’s Grocery Store. Overtime, the store evolved to include a post office, ice cream and hotdog sales and later, a pawn shop and dollar store. In 2008, retirement finally came knocking.
Sonny was a member of the Rotary Club, Lion’s Club, Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood, calling many a Bingo Nights and in 1982, was Chairman of the Building Committee and head of fundraising for the new Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Portage. His bingo calling skills even extended to the Terrier fundraiser Bingos, at the Portage Arena.
The Wawrykow’s cottage at Clear Lake held a special place in Sonny’s heart, especially during the annual Grey Owl Golf Tournaments, where many steaks were BBQ’d and beers were shared! Golf was the occasion but friendship became the focus. Sonny loved new experiences and family vacations included multiple car trips to his beloved Rocky Mountains and all parts of Canada. Travelling continued to cities in the US, Hawaii and three trips to Europe.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to all the staff at the Portage District Hospital, in the Emergency Department and on the Medical Unit, for their expertise, care and kindness during Sonny’s final days in the hospital.
A funeral mass is planned at the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (620 1st Street, N.W), on Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at 11:00 am, with a luncheon to follow. Internment will take place at a later date at Evergreen Memorial Gardens Columbarium.
As expressions of sympathy, donations may be made in memory of Sonny to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation (Leukaemia research) 1160-675 McDermot Avenue Winnipeg, MB R3E 0V9, cancercarefdn.mb.ca or a charity of your choice.
A tree will be planted in memory and cared for by McKenzies Portage Funeral Chapel.