John Lukenda
John Lukenda
John Lukenda
John Lukenda
John Lukenda
John Lukenda

Obituary of John Lukenda

“Say a prayer to your guardian angel”

It is with profound sadness that we announce the unexpected death of our father on Monday, June 3, 2024 at the Sault Area Hospital, where he was planning to return home within just a few days. John will be profoundly missed by his wife of 61 years and soulmate Violet (nee Cmelik), his ten children, Darlene Gallagher (Dean), late baby Stevie, Kim Lukenda (Dwayne), Michael Lukenda (Tess), Marissa Marques (John), Danielle Lukenda (Brent Lamming), Rachel Corrigan (Shawn), Andrea Tremblay (Kevin), Damian Lukenda (Jillian), late Christa Lukenda Michaud (Ryan), fifteen grandchildren: Sarah (Chris), Jenna (Gary), Marina, Andrew, Keira, Joshua, Emma, Hannah, Alexis, Aidan, Matthew, Isabelle, Charlotte, Samuel, Finlay, and one precious great-grandchild that he never met, Romee. Special cousin and dear friend of Vivian Majic (late John), Ana Mele (late Tony), Gento and Ora Lukenda, Pauline Gallagher (late Reg). He was “Uncle John” to many other family members.

John was born on December 4, 1936 in Toronto, Ontario to Ante and Eva (Leko) Lukenda (of Tihaljina, Croatia) and had four siblings all predeceased: Lou (late Mae), Michael (Anne), Winnifred (late Walter), and Joseph (late Helen). John’s family emigrated to Sault Ste. Marie and had a very humble upbringing owning the corner store on First Avenue.  Following in his parent’s ways, John grew up to be a very hardworking, and family-hearted man. He attended Sault Collegiate (grade 9-11), and he attended the all-male boarding school St. Joseph-Scollard Hall in North Bay for his senior high school years. A gifted student and athlete, John attended Michigan Technology University (Lake Superior State University campus) for his Undergraduate degree and University of Toronto Dental School class of 1967. It was in Toronto where he met his soulmate Violet Cecile Cmelik (a nursing student) at a dance at the Newman Club for Catholic professionals.

He paid for his schooling by working at Algoma Steel and then for his older brother Mike at Imperial Steel.

He set up his dental practice first on Albert St. mentored by his big brother Dr. Lou and then at the Professional Place on Queen St. where he practised dentistry until 2001 with Dr. Lou Lukenda and friends Dr. Simin Payendah, Dr. Michael Nanne, Dr. Nilo Fabbro, Dr. George Shunock and the late Dr. Don Santana. He retired from dentistry in 2001. 

John was active in the pro-life movement and considered himself “a soldier for the cause” – writing countless letters to the editor, attending protests and getting arrested once for a cause he dearly believed in - protection of the unborn. 

John’s interest in athletics also continued throughout his life. He played high school football. He was part of a competitive volleyball team as an adult which trained at the SSM YMCA and travelled throughout the province winning many provincial titles. He was involved and loved to watch his children in sports in his later years, especially his grandchildren. 

Dr. John was a Knight of the Knights of Columbus. He was a devout Catholic, a true believer and lived his faith. John supported all his children for their education as he instilled the value of life-long learning. He had a vast knowledge of history and was a proud Croatian Canadian.

Our dad enjoyed a good game of cribbage, a roast lamb, the news, war movies and the countless Sunday family dinners. He was a master scrabble player. He especially looked forward to each summer when “all of my kids came home” with all of their children as well and descended upon the Alworth Place homestead for a summer long of festivities.

Though it broke his heart when his first-born son Stephan accidentally drowned at the cottage and then many years later his last-born daughter Christa was killed by a drunk driver – his faith carried him. He loved God, supported the Catholic Church, was a generous benefactor for Our Lady of the Highways Croatian Church, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Campaign Life Coalition, helped keep the Cross lit for many years, as well as donating to many other charities and organizations. 

He will be missed by many friends, relatives, employees and acquaintances who grew to love our dad as we did. There will be a large void in our family as we stay strong for each other and for our awesome mom.  

He enjoyed a last vacation to Mexico this winter with Vi, Rachel and Shawn. Upon returning home he had concerns of fatigue, weight loss and leg pain. He had a diagnosis of cancer, and he was awaiting radiation and chemotherapy treatment to start this week. He had a recent fall at home Saturday, June 1, 2024, and suffered a broken hip. The pain was so intense and debilitating, it was “his cross to carry”. In the end it was a tough fight. He just kept saying “I want to go home, just take me home”. You are home with Jesus now dad.

Many thanks for the planning of his acute care to Dr. Pearce, Dr. Hill, Dr. Sharpe and the doctors and nurses in Sault Area Hospital emergency and 3A. Dr. Gary Sibbald and Dr. Sam Fratesi for all the care over the years. Dr. Luke Fera we will remember your gentle compassion in taking care and guiding our family. 

Friends of John may gather at Northwood Funeral Home Cremation and Reception Centre (942 Great Northern Road, 705-945-7758) on Friday, June 7, 2024 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish on Saturday, June 8, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. followed by interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Mass cards for John or donations to the charity of your choice would be appreciated by the family.