John McGarry

Obituary of John McGarry

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John Louis McGarry passed away at home in Neilburg, Saskatchewan on August 26, 2023 at the age of 87 years.

John is survived by: his loving wife, Linda; son, Wayne (Kara) and their children, Kailee, Jordan and Jenna; son, Brent (Lisa) and their children, Jonathon, Taryn and Brynn; daughter, Lisa (Lane);  twin sister, Joan (Henry) Martens; sister, Doreen Eddingfield; sisters-in-law, June McGarry, Jean McGarry; and numerous nieces and nephews.

John is predeceased by: his parents, James and Phyllis; parents-in-law, Walter and Lena Sperling; sister and brother-in-law, Mary (John) Svajlenko; brothers, Bill McGarry, Jim McGarry and Pat, McGarry; brothers-in-law, Ernie Edingfield, Ron Sperling and Gerry Sperling.

The Graveside Service for John will be conducted from Neilburg Cemetery on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 11:00 AM. (Please bring your own lawn chair.) Lunch will follow at Neilburg Community Hall at 12:00 PM.

Donations in memory of John may be made to Royal Canadian Legion - Neilburg or Neilburg Recreation Board or Neilburg Community Hall.

John's memorial card can be viewed or downloaded from the link below.


John Louis McGarry was born to James and Phyllis McGarry on September 20, 1935.  He arrived 20 minutes after his twin sister, Joan, and from that moment, was determined that she wouldn’t beat him at anything again, including finishing their bottles.  John would drink his quickly and then steal Joan’s bottle and finish it as well.  Grandma wondered why Joan was often crying until she finally witnessed one of the bottle thefts and realized that Joan was just hungry.

John was the 5th of 7 children for the McGarry family, who lived south of Neilburg on the family farm, which was homesteaded by Phyllis’ family in 1917.  He lived his entire life on that farm and his childhood home, which is over 100 years old, is still standing.  The family milked 20 cows, kept chickens, geese and ducks and grew a massive garden to keep everyone fed.  Much of the work and leisure on the farm involved horses, and they had many – up to 40 at a time.  There was also an ever-present pack of hounds which the kids used to chase coyotes and rabbits.

The kids attended school in Neilburg, and their commute would often involve loading everyone on a buggy behind their horse, Mabel, who was both dependable and “regular”.  When she decided it was time to “do her business”, she would stop and there was no moving her until she was done, even if it was in the middle of Main Street.  She didn’t care about the location or the embarrassment of the kids in the buggy.

In those days, kids had to make their own entertainment and John had many stories about himself and his siblings, from walking to the lake banks in the winter so that they could ski down them, to climbing into a pig trough and paddling it around the slough.  Like many of the McGarry’s, John was famous for teasing people, and when that teasing would get him into trouble with someone at school, Marion Budd (now Marion Graham) would always protect him.  Knowing John, that was probably a full-time job for Marion.

As John grew up, he and his friends continued to find mischief wherever they could.  He often told the story about a night when he and Lyle Thom had been in town having a drink or two.  As you can imagine, when it was time to go home, driving was going to be a bit of a challenge, so Lyle told John to keep an eye on his taillights and follow him.  Lyle ended up hitting the ditch on the way home and John followed right after him, so they both had to walk home.  He always used this as an example of him taking direction well.

John married Linda Sperling on July 10, 1965, and together, they raised three children – Wayne, Brent and Lisa.  They purchased the family farm from John’s mom in 1966 and continued to farm until 1980, when they sold the machinery and rented out the land.  John went to work for Peter Geres and did seasonal work with local farmers for a few years.  He started at the RM of Hillsdale in 1984 and worked there until 2000, when he turned 65 and retired.  After retirement, John occupied his time with yard cleanup, fixing fences and being a self-appointed cattle boss for Wayne’s herd of cows.  Another favorite past time was going to auction sales, where he often came home with nothing except a belly full of pie and coffee.  You could ask him what a particular piece of equipment sold for and he couldn’t tell you, but he could tell you what the best pie was that day.  On other occasions, he would return from a sale with several items that didn’t really fill an obvious need.  When asked why he bought them, his reply was always, “Just in case”.  Needless to say, the machine shed at the farm houses a lot of “just in case”.  And, of course, John was a regular at coffee row, exchanging stories, jokes and the news of the day.

Fun fact:  Did you know that it takes a whole day to go to Wainwright and back to pick up whatever animal had just been butchered at Meatco?  Well, at least it did when John was accompanied by Richard Chibri.  For some reason, those two could turn a two-hour job into a day-long adventure.

John enjoyed working with cattle and there was kind of a standing joke around branding time each year, when John would bring out his cattle prod and tell us where he bought it, how much it cost, and how old the batteries were this year.  I think at last count, those batteries were around 54 years old and had never been changed.  It was only in the past few years that John actually stopped helping with calving, branding and round-up, but he remained involved by asking questions and providing advice and some “constructive criticism” when needed.

Aside from cows, John loved other animals as well.  He was always willing to babysit a dog and was known for making special trips to North Battleford to purchase cat food.  He also happened to visit the casino during those trips, but he always claimed it was for the cats.

John enjoyed sports and competition.  He coached the boys’ hockey teams for many years, often picking up kids from all over to play in tournaments with the Neilburg team.  There was a time that he only had 9 skaters and still won the league.  He rarely missed a senior Monarch game and worked the penalty box for 13 years, although that would be tough to prove because he would never sign the score sheet.  John took up golf in his 60’s and enjoyed the game with whoever would accompany him.  He always had his clubs when he and Linda would pack up the Shamrock for one of their many camping trips.  And with John, golf wasn’t limited to the summer.  One year, there was no snow on the ground in December and John and his frequent partner-in-crime, Brian Gibb, decided it would be a good idea to golf on Christmas Day, just so that they could say they had done it.  They accomplished their goal, but at the expense of John’s 8-iron because even though there was no snow, the ground was still frozen solid.  And over the years, many of you probably experienced an afternoon of cards at the McGarry house which turned into an evening of cards until someone finally admitted defeat.  We’re sure that somewhere, someone is writing a book about Kaiser strategy, based on John’s teachings.

John loved music and was an excellent dancer.  He and Linda rarely missed an opportunity to get on the dance floor at someone’s wedding, graduation, or a New Year’s dine and dance at the hall.  The only time he wouldn’t be dancing is if he was volunteering behind the bar as a member of the Legion, which he joined in 1985.  He also loved visiting with people and getting to know them.  Over the years, he and Linda went on many bus tours across Canada and the U.S.A. and they always ended up with more acquaintances at the end of those trips because of John’s wonderful ability to turn strangers into friends.

John was a loyal friend and a devoted husband, brother, uncle, father and grandfather.  He loved his family unconditionally and was so very proud of the three kids that he and Linda raised, the adults they turned into and the families they built.  He loved nothing more than spending time with his 6 grandchildren, and you could never leave the house without hearing about their latest accomplishments. 

John passed away on August 26th at the farm, with Linda and several other family members at his side.  He was loved by many and will be missed by all who knew him.  Rest easy, John.


Graveside Service

11:00 am
Saturday, September 16, 2023
Neilburg Cemetery
SW 31-44-25 W3
Neilburg, Saskatchewan, Canada
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John McGarry

In Loving Memory

John McGarry

1935 - 2023

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