October 27, 1927 to June 24, 2012
Bill was born on October 27, 1927, at Grand Forks, B.C. He was born to William and Tina Novakshonoff and was the youngest of their six children. He was the only boy.
Bill never had a formal ‘education. He was self-taught and often said his greatest education came from the School of Hard Knocks’. He became an avid reader and his own Master of History.
Bill developed his wander lust early in life. At the age of 14, he and a buddy paid a buck to hitch a ride to get jobs in the Okanagan. The year was 1942 and the attraction was 25 cents an hour for working in the orchards or planting gardens. Encouraged by his family to return to Grand Forks, Bill teamed up with his dad working in the bush making telephone poles and fence posts. Bill worked as part of this team for two years, swinging an axe as he put it, when the wander lust hit him again. With his cardboard Rodeo Suitcase in hand, he headed back to Kelowna and got a job at the El Dorado Ranch. Bill heard about the big ranches of Alberta and landed a job riding at the MacIntyre Ranch. He was 16 years old and described a riding job as sitting on the back of a horse yelling “Hey Cow!” In actuality, this was a job moving large herds of cattle from one section (640 acres) of land to another. The ranch was 20 miles wide by 30 miles long.
Bill found his way back to Grand Forks. From there he took on a few different occupations. He worked in the bush, drove logging truck, but is well remembered for driving transport truck for Sandner Brothers out of Christina Lake.
On June 9, 1962, he married the love of his life, Marie Reibin. They made Grand Forks their home and spent many years working together in their garden and raising their two children. Bill was always a devoted family man and loved getting together with family and friends where his talents as a story teller and singer would captivate everyone around him.
Bill had an aptitude for fabricating equipment and with the help of George Markin Jr., he built a water-well digging rig. Bill headed for Langley, B.C., where he established a very successful business. Eventually, Bill sold his rig and headed down the highway. He took a few lucky passengers with him on one of his favourite hauls, working for Pacific Enercon. This was a trip to Alaska and back, on some of the most scenic highways he’d driven. Later, he joined the Teamsters and worked on projects such as dams and pipelines operating heavy duty equipment.
Bill retired in 1992, but he never kept still. He got the idea to build a mill in the back yard of his home on North Fork Road. He fabricated the mill without a blueprint, from scrap metal and parts and welded it together with his own hands. It was a three-year project and when completed, he sold this mill to a log home builder in Enderby.
During this time, together with Marie, Bill cheered on the arrival of his five grandchildren. In his backyard he built a giant swing, push cars and other unique toys. Grandpa Bill made every visit exciting and told many stories of when he was a little boy.
In July 2001, Marie passed away. Bill kept close ties with friends in the community and was honoured when he was asked to join the USCC Men’s choir. One of the highlights in Bill’s later life was traveling to Europe with his son, Bryan. He was surprised at how much he enjoyed the different culture and history of England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Many a toast was made over a glass of Guiness. Bill truly lived life to the fullest, right up to the day he passed away.
Bill is predeceased by his parents, William and Tina Novakshonoff; his wife, Marie; his sisters: Mary Markin, Polly Malloff and Nancy Tomilin. He leaves behind his son, Bryan (Kelly) Fitzpatrick; his daughter, Renee Hubert; his grandchildren: Chase, Dylan, Brynn, Colette and Curtis; and his sisters, Tina Verigin and Ann Perepolkin.
Funeral services were held on Friday, June 29, 2012, at Grand Forks Funeral Home and interment was at Evergreen Cemetery. Donations in Bill’s memory may be made to the B.C. Children’s Hospital.