September 24, 1938 – July 8, 2020
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Alex Voykin.
The youngest of four children, Alex was born on September 24, 1938, in Thrums, BC, to William and Mary Voykin. He was a big baby; according to his mother, he weighed 9 lbs and 16 oz.
Alex lived in Passmore for most of his youth and early adulthood. When Alex was seven, he started going to school in a one-room schoolhouse. When he wasn’t able to use the bicycle that he shared with his older brother, Alex had to walk 3 miles to get to school, uphill, both ways. At a young age, Alex learned to drive. His father was “not a very good driver” so having a 13-year-old drive seemed liked a safer bet than the alternative.
As a teenager, Alex began working in the logging industry and eventually formed a business with his brother. Throughout their logging career, the Voykin Brothers worked across southern BC, including in Passmore/Koch Creek, Tye, Lardeau, Nakusp, Ymir, Okanagan Falls, the Monashee Mountains, and on the Blueberry-Paulson Summit, as well as in Idaho.
In the mid-1950s, after attending a dance at Mount Sentinel Secondary School, a girl from Goose Creek named Elaine caught Alex’s eye. After a few years of dating, Alex and Elaine wed on November 30, 1957. Alex and Elaine welcomed three daughters: Maxine (1958), Natalie (1961), and Elaine (1965). In 1967, the Voykin family moved from Passmore into their new home in Slocan Park.
In addition to a busy working life, Alex played, coached, and umpired sports, notably baseball, fastball, and hockey. Even though he was “not a superstar by any means,” sports were a great passionate of Alex’s. As his children and especially grandchildren grew, you could often find him coaching or cheering at the hockey rink, baseball diamond, soccer pitch, and volleyball court.
Alex was a community-builder, and sports went hand-in- hand with his work. He worked to develop the baseball diamond in Slocan Park and later the baseball diamond in Playmor. In the 1980s, the Voykin Brothers purchased land in South Slocan and developed what are now known as the Voykin and Playmor subdivisions. Alex also helped build (and take down) many homes, buildings, mills, dams, bridges, and even movie sets in the Kootenays.
In the late 1980s, Alex transitioned from the logging business to the crane business. In the 1990s, Alex contributed a great deal to the expansion and modernization of the Celgar pulp mill, during which time he partnered with Cecil Gritchin to form V&G Cranes. By the 2000s, Voykin Bros. Contracting Ltd. was no more, as Alex bought out the company from his brother. Some people doubted that Alex would “fall flat on his face” going out on his own but he soon proved people wrong and continued to be a sought-after crane operator in the Kootenays.
Notable projects that Alex, and his colleagues, notably Gerald Voykin, worked on included those at Pope and Talbot, the Robson-Castlegar Bridge, and at Teck Cominco. In 2000, GWIL Crane Service bought Alex’s company and he worked with them as a manager/operator for about 3 years until his “retirement” at age 65. Within months after he “retired,” Alex “couldn’t sit still”; he bought some heavy machinery and got back to work as the owner/operator of A&E Voykin Ltd.
Beyond work and sports, Alex’s greatest joy was spending time with his family. He loved family gatherings, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings – where he was always one of the first people on the dance floor – and holidays, especially Christmas. Every Christmas Eve, Alex would dress up as Santa. Alex also enjoyed fishing, traveling, and camping, notably in Christina Lake, where he and Elaine enjoyed over 25 summers.
In summer 2016, Alex was diagnosed with MDS, which later progressed to leukemia. Still, he continued to do the odd job on his dump truck, tune-up family members’ vehicles and tinker in his shop, enjoy time with his growing family, and spend summer weekends at Christina Lake. Even in his final months, Alex’s mind was sharp as a tack; he continued to enjoy quiet evenings at home with Elaine and their cat Dusty, watching the news and Family Feud, and sharing stories, jokes, and life lessons with his grandchildren and great- grandchildren.
Alex passed peacefully with Elaine by his side at the Kootenay Lake Hospital in the early morning hours of July 8, 2020.
Alex is predeceased by his daughter Elaine Voykin Woods (2019), brother Jack Voykin (2004), sister Marjorie Malahoff (2010), sister Mabel Lehrke (2015), niece Faye Cox (1994), brother-in-law Alex Malahoff (2009), brother-in-law Ely Chernenkov (2018), and parents William (1982) and Mary Voykin (2003).
He is survived by his wife of nearly 63 years, Elaine; his daughters and son-in-laws, Maxine (Joe) Moreira, Natalie (Steve) Podovennikoff, and Bryan Woods; his 10 grandchildren and their partners, Dennis (Heather) Podovennikoff, Jennifer Podovennikoff, Elaine (Scott) Renou, Wesley (Lee-Anne) Tarasoff, Carmen Moreira, Lesley (Todd) Tarasoff, Amanda (Jack) Moreira, Ashley Tarasoff, Bryce Moreira, and Darrin Moreira; his 8 great-grandchildren, Abigail, Paisley, and Avery Podovennikoff, Taya and Brayden Renou, Austin and Maddon Tarasoff, and Harley Daley; and numerous extended family members and friends.
Alex’s generosity, skillful hands, sense of humour, and fun- loving spirit will be greatly missed.
A private funeral service was held for Alex on July 14, 2020, after which he was laid to rest, beside his daughter, Elaine, at the Slocan Park Cemetery.
Alex’s family extends our deepest gratitude to Drs. Malpass, Kirsten, and Tuvel, and the nurses in the chemotherapy unit at the Kootenay Lake Hospital for their outstanding care over the last 4 years. We also wish to thank Bill Strilaeff and the staff at the Castlegar Funeral Chapel for their compassionate service and guidance, Bob and Lorraine Podovelnikoff for helping us with the Slocan Park Hall, Wayne Curry and the gravediggers, Pipe Major J. Gordon Titsworth for the beautiful music at the cemetery, and family, friends, and neighbours for your support and kind words about Alex.
In lieu of flowers, if you wish, we encourage you to donate to the Kootenay Lake Hospital Foundation.
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