Orlita – Our Dad, Mike Orlita, beloved husband of Elaine, passed away peacefully in Brooks, on November 27, 2021, at the age of 90 years. Dad was born in Regina, Saskatchewan on May 9, 1931, to Anthony and Stella Orlita. The family had emigrated from Poland and was farming in Dysart, Saskatchewan. In 1945 the family moved to the Millicent area, where Dad grew up. Dad met the love of his life, Elaine Fleury, in 1953 through friends. They dated 1 or 2 times a week, enjoying Friday night dances at the Elks Hall. He instantly knew he wanted to marry Mom. He owned a 3 ton truck that he would haul grain or cattle in, for farmers in the area. He saved $100 cash, went to “Ellik’s Jewelery”, in Brooks, bought a diamond ring, and proposed to Mom before the Friday night dance. Mom accepted and they were married seven months later, June 21, 1954. They celebrated their 67th anniversary, this year. Dad loved to work, starting on the farm with his Dad, at 8 years old. Grandpa Orlita would sit Dad on the tractor so he could steer it, while his Dad would be behind him on a seeder or another implement. There would be a rope around Dad’s waist and his Grandpa Orlita would yank the rope, sometimes to wake Dad up, or to steer to the right or left. Dad developed a strong work ethic and a love of the land. After Dad and Mom married, they worked on the farm in Millicent with Dad’s parents for a year or so. Dad loved that Mom too was a hard worker and always took part. Thus started Dad’s journey of always having a “hobby”, which meant a second job to go to at the end of the day. In 1955 Dad worked selling parts, as well as building quonsets, with his brother-in-law Jesse, for farmers and businesses. In late 1958 Dad opened a Royalite Service Station and bulk gas sales. During this time he also tried his hand at building houses, even helping build their own home, in his spare time. They still reside in that same home, 58 years later. In 1968 Dad went to work for the Martin family at Evergreen Implements, in the parts department. He knew every piece of John Deere equipment and every part that made them run. He loved to visit with the farmers and often their wives, who were sent in for parts during seeding or harvest. He would be the first one to arrive, at the shop, and put the coffee on for decades, even after he retired. Those morning visits were dear to him. Of course, Dad needed a “hobby” while working at Evergreen, so he started a honey bee keeping business. Learning from his brother-in-law, Eric, he ran about 400 hives from 1968 to 1976. This was a family business and everyone took part. From April 1 to late October, evenings and weekends he and Mom provided a learning experience for their children of hard work and cooperation. After Dad’s retirement, from Evergreen Implements, he went back to his roots and his love of the land and purchased a quarter section of farmland. His son Len joined him and they bought two more quarter sections and formed Orlita Farms. Dad passed his love of the land on to Len and the two of them became inseparable. They proceeded to rent numerous acres and create a highly respected quality of crop farming. Dad’s favorite place to be on earth was in the seat of a John Deere tractor out on the land. He was blessed to continue doing just that until well into his 80’s. Dad would start each day scoping the “Weather Network” on the iPad, in the early hours of the morning, to get an idea of what he and Len might accomplish that day. Dad and Mom were very involved in their Catholic Church community. Dad belonged to the Knights of Columbus. They developed a tradition, starting with Mom’s family to join in a meal following mass. The location would rotate with Mom and her sister Theresa hosting. As the kids got older and started families of their own, the tradition would take place in a restaurant for brunch. Any family and grandkids available were always welcome to attend. Through this they met, Bernice and John, who did the same thing, every Sunday after church. Over 25 years of brunches, Bernice and John, became a part of the Orlita family. Dad and Mom’s children and grandchildren continued to join in, when they could, with Grandson Mike being the fifth wheel for over a decade. Dad loved sports, both live and on TV. He was an avid baseball player in his teens and twenties. He played for the Millicent Young Liberals. He would speak of the men that took him under his wing and welcomed him to play, when so young. “We were all just a group of farmers.” Dad was tall and had long legs, so he was a fast runner. He loved stealing bases and was good at it. He was very competitive and was even invited to try out for a US team but decided against it. He was an NHL referee and a baseball umpire for countless games, right from his own living room arm chair. His competitive spirit transferred to card playing when Mom’s parents taught them to play duplicate bridge. They belonged to the Brooks Duplicate Bridge Club but played everywhere they went, even Hawaii. The four of them would travel around to tournaments all over Alberta and Montana. Dad and Mom had the good fortune to travel to Honolulu for two weeks every February for many years. They often went with Mom’s parents and other family. They loved to share their favorite places. Dad was a soft hearted, generous guy with a great sense of humor. Tears would come easily whether he was watching “The Sound of Music” or just sharing a story. He would surprise those around the table with a slap on the cheek with his bologna before he put it on his plate. He loved people and would never turn down an opportunity to just sit and chat. As a family, we always had a two week camping trip, our favorite spot being Fairmont Hot Springs. Dad loved the hot springs and could sit in that water for hours and visit with “new friends”. Whenever Dad and Mom would get sentimental, they would turn on the iPad and look at pictures of their Great Grandchildren. That would always make them smile. Dad and Mom have been blessed to have loving caregivers in their home for the past ten years. Dad was especially grateful for their care since last March and when asked at the hospital what he preferred to be called, his reply was “Grandpa”. That’s what my caregivers call me at home. Dad was predeceased by his parents Anthony and Stella; his three sisters Vera, Mary and Isabelle and their spouses; Mom’s parents Cliff and Alice Fleury; brothers-in-law Robert Fleury and Laurier Fleury. Dad is survived by his wife Elaine, his four children and families – Sherri (Eric) Strauss, Danielle (Justin) and Jaclynn (Ryan); Debra (Michael) Courtney, Jennifer (Brad) Mehalko, Shaun (Kayla), Eligh and Becker; Len (Brenda) Orlita, Brittany and Tate; Leanne (Ken) Mandeville, Keith (Jill), Mike, Tracy (Richard) Dupre, Tucker, Nash and Leo; numerous nieces and nephews. Several days after becoming incoherent and three days before his passing, Dad clearly led his family and Priest, in praying The Lord’s Prayer aloud. “His faith carried him home.” In memory of Dad, if friends desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Brooks and District Health Foundation, Bag 300, Brooks, Alberta T1R 1B3. A Family Prayer Service will be held on Wednesday, December 1 at 4:00 PM from St. Mary’s Catholic Church. A Family Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Thursday, December 2 at 10:30 AM from St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Rev. Marino Infante Celebrant. Interment to follow at Brooks Cemetery. Live Streaming will be available for both the Prayer Service and Mass Service via St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Brooks’ Facebook page.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to:
SMITH FUNERAL HOME LTD. AND CREMATORIUM
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