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Dr. John Sawchuk

Mar 13, 2015


John Sawchuk, M.D., FAAFP, 83, Cando, passed away peacefully on March 6, 2015 at the Towner County Living Center in Cando with his loving family by his side. John Sawchuk was born February 18, 1932 in Invermay, Saskatchewan to Feodor and Katherine Sawchuk who immigrated to Canada from the Volyna region of the Ukraine. The second of four children, John attended elementary and secondary school in Clair and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. His elementary education was in a one-room school that was built by his father. His native language, Ukrainian, was spoken in his home, and John learned English for the first time when he entered school. His father homesteaded and instilled in John a value for hard work. John would share that he grew up in a peasant family that was very loving. Even though they were poor monetarily, they were rich in love, family, and happiness. Many evenings were spent together singing and playing instruments around the farm home.

John completed his premedical studies at the University of Saskatchewan in 1954. He earned his medical degree from the University of Manitoba in 1958. No stranger to hard work, John worked at numerous odd jobs including construction, porter for the Canadian Pacific Railway, GM assembly plant, fish hatchery, Eaton’s Dept. Store, and prospecting in order to pay for his medical education. Dr. John married the love of his life, Marilynn Grace Gillies of Winnipeg on June 21, 1958. He spent the next two years doing an internship in general medicine and surgery at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Dr. Sawchuk was board certified in family practice becoming a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians in 1978. Dr. John and Marilynn moved from Canada to Rolette, ND in 1960 where he joined Dr. S. J. Cook in medical practice at the Rolette and Dunseith Clinic as well as the Rolette Community Hospital. For a time Dr. John was the medical director at San Haven and the Dunseith Nursing Home and also served as the Rolette County coroner. Other physicians joining Dr. Sawchuk in medical practice over the years included Dr. Norman Kester, Dr. Paul Schaak, Dr. Gary Pickerel, and Dr. Dave Crozier. Dr. John maintained a very busy practice in family medicine until he was forced to retire in 1983, due to a debilitating stroke.

Dr. John was a skilled and compassionate physician and surgeon. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and his Christian faith was deeply intertwined in his medical practice. He was loved and respected by his patients and medical colleagues. He was an active member of the Christian Medical and Dental Society. John and Marilynn enjoyed taking short-term medical mission trips, sometimes with the family. They traveled to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Haiti, Liberia, and Taiwan. Dr. John was a recognized leader in North Dakota medicine, serving on the North Dakota State Board of Medical Examiners and as Associate Professor of Medicine at UND helping train the first class of Nurse Practitioners. Becoming naturalized US citizens in 1966, John and Marilynn put down roots in Rolette, where they raised their three children, Ted, Cathy, and Jenny and became involved in community activities. John served on the Rolette School Board, taught Sunday school, served on the board of the Rolette Assembly of God Church, and was a member of Gideons International. John enjoyed fishing trips to northern Canada with Bobby and the boys, goose hunting, family curling, summer evening boat rides at Belcourt Lake, and rose and vegetable gardening. John also loved rock hounding, taking every opportunity to make his love of lapidary a part of each family adventure. Late nights he could be found polishing rocks or creating beautiful silver and turquoise jewelry. With his beautiful tenor voice, John enjoyed singing in church, community cantatas, and male quartets. A highlight each summer was cooking up a big batch of Ukrainian borscht using the vegetables from his garden and serving it to friends and neighbors. One of John’s greatest joys in life was his children and grandchildren. In his retirement years he enjoyed following activities of his grandchildren and wintering in Florida.

John leaves behind his beloved wife of 56 years, Marilynn; son, Theodore (Jana) Sawchuk, Fargo, ND; daughters, Cathryn (Jeff) Teubner, Cando, ND, and Jennifer (Brent) Heisler, Cando, ND; grandchildren, Ander, Anica, and Isaac Sawchuk, Calvin (fianc Alyssa Lipsiea) and Jessica Teubner, and Alexandra and John Heisler; brother, Pete (Marlene) Sawchuk, Saskatoon, SK, sisters, Lena (Wally) Maranchuk, Kelowna, BC, Darlene (Mel) Gimas, Weekes, SK, and many other nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and niece Darcy Gimas.

Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 10:00 AM at Christian Fellowship Church, Cando, ND, with Rev. Les Koenig, Rev. Brian Skarr and Pastor Jana Sawchuk Officiating. Visitation will be held at Dunnigan-Dix Funeral Home, Cando, ND, on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 from 2 to 7:30 pm with a 7:30 pm family celebration and time of sharing. Visitation on Thursday will be for one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be in the spring at the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Cando. Casket bearers will be Calvin Teubner, Ander Sawchuk, Johnny Heisler, Isaac Sawchuk, Dave Bowen and Cordell Beaver. Music will be from Ander Sawchuk.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to North Dakota Teen Challenge, 1402 2nd St. NW, Mandan, ND 58554, or the charity of your choice.

The family would like to thank his caregivers Angie and Pauline, the caring staff of the Towner County Living Center, and Altru Hospice of Devils Lake.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” Matthew 25:21

Online guestbook is available at www.dunnigandix.com

Dunnigan-Dix Funeral Home of Cando, ND is in charge of arrangements.

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