Charles Polcyn

January 22, 1939 - December 4, 2018

 Apiarist, Alpinist, Educator, and World Traveller

CHARLES JACOB POLCYN

Charles passed away on December 4, 2018 in Winnipeg, Manitoba after a prolonged struggle with progressive ataxia palatal myoclonus, a rare and incurable condition.

He was born in Montello, Wisconsin to Stephen and Blanche Polcyn. He was predeceased by his parents; brothers James (1948), Daniel (2006), and Gerald (2015); and sister Rita (2010).

Much beloved by family, he is survived by his wife Verna Polcyn (née VanJoff); daughters Asmara Polcyn, Erin Polcyn Sailer (Frantisek) of Winnipeg, and Tania Polcyn (Grigori Axenov) of Ottawa; granddaughters Nadia Axenov, Lara Axenov, and Elora Sailer.

He is also survived by his sister Mary Ann Arbeiter (Richard) of Florida; sisters-in-law Elizabeth Polcyn Breen (Daniel) of Wisconsin, Carol VanTeeling (Kees) of Edmonton, Frances Yeske (Kelly) of Liverpool, Nova Scotia; as well as nieces and nephews in Wisconsin, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Charles studied at Wisconsin State University at Stevens Point and completed a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Mathematics. Times were tough, and his family had little means to assist him financially. He worked on farms and in canning factories to earn his tuition money, then later worked in the university chemistry laboratory during his studies. He completed a Master’s of Science in Education on a full scholarship at the University of Pennsylvania.   

Charles was a devoted educator with 40 years of teaching experience. Charles taught Mathematics and Sports at Okitipupa, Nigeria and later did teacher training in Uganda. He completed a year of a Pre-Doctoral program in Mathematics Education before realizing he was distancing himself from where he felt he could make the most difference: teaching high school students. Charles also taught in Cornwall, England, the USA and in Winnipeg, Manitoba at Argyle and Sisler High Schools.

In addition to teaching, Charles worked diligently as a beekeeper and with the assistance of his family built up a honey business, Scott's Hill Apiary, at the farm near Whitemouth, Manitoba. Managing 20 to 100 bee colonies for over 40 years kept him in great physical shape! He also worked as a provincial honey bee and leafcutter bee inspector. Serving as president and executive member of the Red River Apiarists' Association, he was an engaging and regular contributor to the Manitoba Honey Show, rarely missing a chance to help educate the public about honey and beekeeping. An urban beekeeping pioneer, he was most pleased with the city's recent by-law change permitting honeybee colonies within city limits.

 

Charles had a great deal of support on the home front from his wife, Verna, and thus, two full-time jobs notwithstanding, he also found time to volunteer for a number of causes close to his heart. He coached high school basketball at Sisler and was a longstanding board member of MacDonald Youth Services. He had a keen interest in social justice and in helping people gain access to resources and opportunities. He lived his belief that one has a responsibility to make the world a better place.

 

Charles grew up hunting and fishing with his family in order to put food on the table. Along with his brother Jerry he continued that tradition usually with a fine Chesapeake Bay Retriever by his side. He enjoyed the outdoors and time spent hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing with his family. His daughters inherited his love of the outdoors and the natural world. Inspired by his example, his daughters are accomplished multi-sport athletes and world travellers in their own right. Charles was immensely proud of them.

A lifelong reader and a perceptive student of politics, Charles could be counted on to keenly discuss current and political events. He served on neighbourhood political committees and volunteered in a variety of capacities at election time as well.

 

Charles was certainly happiest when travelling and meeting new people. He met his future wife, Verna, an avid traveller herself, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and other mountains in Africa, spent time in Nepal on Mount Everest, walked the Great Wall of China with his family, and more recently explored Machu Picchu. After retiring from teaching he worked as a volunteer for CESO, assisting beekeepers in Armenia, the Philippines, Columbia, Cameroon, and Honduras. Through the course of his life he travelled extensively across North and Central America, East Africa, West Africa, Southeast Asia, and Europe.

A celebration of his life will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, December 29, 2018 in the First Unitarian Universalist Church located at 603 Wellington Crescent at Academy Road.

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