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In Loving Memory Of

Robert Harlo Woken


As written by Robert Woken

Tuesday, August 14, 2018, marked the passing of Robert Woken, at the age of 84 years.

He was born in the Woken family farmhouse located seven miles south and one mile east of Parshall, North Dakota, USA, on June 5, 1934, in the middle of the dust bowl and the Great Depression.

On the Woken farm, he grew up with the care and love of his seven brothers and two sisters and walked with them to Banner No. 3, a one room rural school through Grade Eight and graduated from Parshall High School in 1948, working summers on neighbourhood farms.

Robert attended Minot State Teachers’ College on scholarships and taught three years in rural schools at New Town and Arnnegaard, North Dakota until he entered the US Army in 1957, where he was posted to Louisiana, Missouri, Washington (state) and France, where he continued his university education.

On returning to the United States, he earned his B.Sc. Degree in 1960 at Minot, always working part time to pay for his education. Thereafter, he taught in North Dakota, West Virginia and finally Connecticut for five years, at the same time taking three more years of university education, three majors and three minors.

Robert chose to move to Canada in 1969, and became a citizen three years later, a significant step in his life that he totally honoured and never regretted, becoming an ardent and full-fledged Canadian, again furthering his university studies.

Since coming to Canada – first to Redwater, then to the Peace Country – he farmed, raised cattle and had a horse or two – he taught at Spirit River Secondary School and Woking School.

Who knows how Robert Woken will be remembered? More than likely, there are as many opinions of him of the significance and meaning of his life as there are people who remember his work and maybe a few who knew his stories, his sense of humour, his love of poetry, and in later life his love of Beethoven, the guitar and violin. And finally, his love of seclusion.

Robert loved the inexplicable beauty of the language of literature from all over the world: in English and secondarily in French. Robert’s reading, education and thinking life gave him many heroes, among whom were Socrates, Jesus, Shakespeare, John Milton, Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy, Pierre Trudeau and many poets, namely Robert Frost and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

He loved his soil, his cattle, horses, dogs and other small animals and, in later life, his gardens and home. He considered himself extremely lucky to have fallen in love with two of the most energizing, challenging, and love-filled professions in all the world – teaching and farming. For the love inherent in teaching, he fondly thanks his former teachers and professors, namely the Tangedahl sisters, Victor Burchill, Leila Ewan and Dr. Edna Gilbert of Parshall and Minot; Hilbert Campbell of Blacksburg, Virginia and Mme. Marie Marѐ of Nancy, France and humbles before all his former students whose influence and inspiration he never forgot and always admired. For his love, skill and knowledge of farming, he deeply thanks neighbouring and area farmers such as the Dreger families, Alex Selevich and family, Mike and Anne Strutz, the Potrebenko families, as well as the many others who gave freely of their time and knowledge to a “beginner.”

He also conveys thanks to various members of the community and close neighbours who kept in close touch with him in his later years.

Robert taught full time till 1978 and resumed part-time in 1990, retiring for good in 1998.

In 1975, Robert married Eleanor J. Brown of Edmonton. He adopted her two children: Stephanie Andrea and Mark Andrew. In 1978, Christina Marie was born. Robert and his wife divorced in 1983.

Robert bids a fond good-bye and wishes a good life to all.

Robert leaves to mourn his children: Stephanie of Edmonton, Mark of Vancouver, and Christina of Edmonton; grandchildren: Emily, Natalie, Heidi and Rebecca; brother and sister Lawrence and Beverly of Minnesota; nephews and nieces all across the United States, as well as Don and Nancy Peterson of Castlegar, BC.

He was predeceased by his father John and his mother Agnes; infant brother Wesley in 1927; brothers: Peter in 1996, Willard and DuWayne in 1999, Leslie and Miles in 2005, Jackie in 2009; and sister Kathleen in 2009.

Funeral service for the late Robert Woken will be held on Saturday, August 25, 2018, 11:00am, at the Spirit River Centennial Hall (4812 44 Ave.). 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Alberta School for the Deaf (6240 113 St. NW, Edmonton, AB, T6H 3L2) or a charity of one’s choice.


In Loving Memory of

Robert Harlo Woken


 Print Funeral Service Details

Funeral Service Details

Funeral Service
Saturday, August 25, 2018
11:00 AM
Spirit River Centennial Hall
Spirit River, Alberta
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