Gebhard – Zygmunt Gedhard of Yorkton, beloved husband of Wanda entered eternal rest on March 12, 2020 at the age of 95 years. Zygmunt was born in Korolówka, a village of 3,000 people in the Borszczów Region of Eastern Poland. His parents were Tadeusz and Wiktoria (nee Gawrońska). The Gebhards were a family of millers, originally from Vienna, who operated flour mills in the Borszczów region for three generations. In search of a better life for his family, Tadeusz emigrated to Canada in 1927. Three years later, after securing a farm near Insinger, Saskatchewan, he arranged for his family to join him in Canada. With Zygmunt and his sister Janina, Wiktoria arrived at the Port of Gdynia, ready for the sail to Canada. Unfortunately Wiktoria failed the necessary medical exam and the family was not allowed to embark the ship. Shocked and disappointed they returned to Korolówka. With one tragedy following another, Janina passed away at the age of fourteen. Soon after Wiktoria passed away. With his father in Canada, Zygmunt became a virtual orphan at the age of nine. His childhood was taken from him and he was forced to work before he reached his teens. The economy and political situation of Poland in the 1930’s was in chaos and poverty was widespread. He was deprived of the love and comfort of family and lived with a string of relatives who were struggling to survive in the difficult times and were reluctant to have another mouth to feed.
Following the start of the Second World War in 1939, Eastern Poland was invaded by the Soviet Union and conditions became increasingly worse for the Polish population. After the Hitler-Stalin Pact was broken by the Germans, the Nazi Army arrived in Korolówka in 1942. Zygmunt was taken to Germany and eventually spent nearly three years in slave labour on farms in Austria. After the war, Eastern Poland was ceded to the Soviets and Zygmunt was unable to return to his home village. Returning to Poland, he settled in Legnica, a small city in Western Poland, that had been a part of Germany until 1945. There he worked in a meat processing plant, as a fireman, and eventually operated a coal delivery business. He met his wife Wanda (nee Idzik) when they were living in the same apartment building in Legnica. They were united in marriage on October 18, 1947 and had three children: Jerzy, b. 1948; Krzysztof, b. 1951; and Elżbieta, b. 1958. Sadly, Jerzy passed away in infancy after only two months of life. Zygmunt purchased a large house in Poznan and the family moved there in 1958. Their time in Poznań lasted only two years.
In 1960 the Poznań house was sold and the Gebhards arrived in Canada to be reunited with Tadeusz. Zygmunt saw his father for the first time in 33 years! After six months living in Insinger, the new Canadians moved to Yorkton. Zygmunt learned the butcher trade in Poland, working as an apprentice from the age of fourteen. This experience helped him secure employment at Mid-West Packers (now Harvest Meats) in Yorkton. He worked there for eleven years, getting more experience and honing his skills as a butcher. In 1972 he opened his own business, the Yorkton Abattoir, offering slaughter facilities, meat cutting services and large volume sales of meats. The Yorkton Abattoir was a successful and busy operation. Zygmunt worked long hours (but never on a Sunday), and took only one vacation during the entire time he owned the plant. He shut it down for four weeks and went to Poland. The Abattoir was sold in 1984, allowing Zygmunt to enjoy a lengthy retirement which lasted 35 years. He spent his time helping his children and grandchildren, gardening and fishing. And he never stopped making sausage. He made it in his basement and smoked it in a large smoke house in his back yard. “Zyg’s Kielbasa” became legendary and people would come from great distances for it. Even as his health began to fail, he continued to make sausage. Family and friends still enjoyed his sausages for the last time this past Christmas.
Zygmunt will be remembered not only for his sausage making skills, but also for the goodwill he extended to friends and especially for the love and generosity extended to his family. He was predeceased by his parents Tadeusz and Wiktoria, sister Janina, son Jerzy and grandson Damian Gebhard. He is survived by Wanda his wife of 72 years, son Krzysztof and daughter-in-law Victoria, Nanoose Bay BC, grandchildren Amanda Gebhard (Jason Green), Hagen SK, Kristina Gebhard, Nanaimo BC, daughter Elżbieta and son-in-law Kerry Perepeluk, Yorkton, grandchildren Jennifer Newcombe (Ryan), Regina , Dustin Perepeluk, Dunleath SK, Melanie Bauche (Andrew), Saskatoon, Garret Perepeluk (Autumn Voegtlin), Tofield AB, Leta Perepeluk (Logan Coutts), Yorkton and great grandchildren Peyton Newcombe, Isabella Newcombe, Sadie Newcombe and Scarlett Bauche.
Prayers were held on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 with Mary Bybliw presiding and Debbie Hayward giving the reading. The Funeral Mass was held on Thursday, March 19, 2020 at St. Gerard’s Roman Catholic Church in Yorkton with Rev. Fr. Louis Kim Nguyen as the Celebrant. The accompanists were Lorraine Lysak and Diana Hornung. The cross bearer was Marie Kruger and the readers were Amanda Gebhard and Kristina Gebhard. The intentions were led by Brian Kruger. Serving as the gift bearers were Leta Perepeluk, Peyton Newcombe and Isabella Newcombe. The interment followed in the Garden of Gethsemane at Yorkton Memorial Gardens with Dustin Perepeluk, Garret Perepeluk, Ryan Newcombe, Andrew Bauche, Logan Coutts and Jason Green serving as the casket bearers. Memorials may be made to the Activity Department at Yorkton Nursing Home or St. Gerard’s Church. Condolences to the family can be posted at www.baileysfuneralhome.com
Daj wieczny pokój w niebie, Panie,
Swą prośbę ślemy przed Twój tron.
Dziś, gdy nadeszło z nim rozstanie,
Opieką swoją nadal go chroń!