Passing of Former TABIA President, John Wakulat
WAKULAT, John. September 20, 1937 – October 21, 2021.
John Hans Werner Wakulat, loving husband and father, former owner of Pollocks Home Hardware, founder of the Roncesvalles Village BIA, former Chair of TABIA, died on Thursday, October 21, 2021. His spirit lives on in his wife, Grace, two children, and grandchild: Robert (Denise, and son Quincy) and Tania, along with friends and relatives around the world who were touched by his wit, charm, and genuine love of meeting new people. John was raised in a village in northern Germany. He arrived in Toronto knowing only a few words of English. He was invited to stay with his aunt Hilde and her family, including his baby cousin John, as prospects were brighter far from his war-ravaged home. He left 7 siblings, his mother, and grandparents back in Germany. Local hardware store owner, Mel Pollock, took a chance on this unskilled boy of twenty – and was glad he did! John quickly proved himself to have an extraordinary work ethic and easily learned the ins and outs of the business. By the 60s, the store had joined the Home Hardware family and by the 70s, he was the manager.
Following the great Canadian tradition of leaving the bustle of the city on long weekends, John once invited his aunt for some R&R. She ended up bringing along Grazyna (Grace) Jeremicz who had been living and working with her. John spent a weekend playing volleyball with Grace and taking her on boat rides. The next year they were married – it would be a marriage of nearly 50 years. The two built a life together, soon welcoming two kids: Robert and Tania. Saturday evenings in the Winter were reserved for watching Leafs games with the kids – John was part of a dwindling cohort of Torontonians who remember when the Leafs were genuinely good! John eventually took over ownership of Pollocks and joined the Home Hardware board. John was invited all across Canada, as well as to South Africa, Kenya, and Switzerland, to learn about the hardware business elsewhere. He never ceased to appreciate the Pollocks staff who were essential in the success of the store. As an owner he continued to be hands-on – unloading deliveries, stocking shelves, pricing products, and being a friendly face for all his customers.
John was deeply invested in the needs of the community around him. He was a fierce advocate for small business owners. His leadership was instrumental in founding the original Roncesvalles BIA and its eventual merger with the High Park BIA. John was a voracious reader and family archivist. He had a brilliant mind and read every newspaper he could get his hands on. Though the dining table was often piled high with periodicals, his final years were marked by a long battle with dementia. Those who met him for the first time in those years never ceased to remark on his etiquette, easy banter, and quick wit – core character traits that even the disease could not shake. The family would like to thank the nursing staff at Cawthra Gardens Long Term Care Residence, who took wonderful care of John in his final months. John leaves this world a little better than he found it, a little more tidy, a little more witty, a little more polka-filled.