Married 61 years, couple 'truly blessed'

Walter and Marilyn Shelest recently celebrated 61 years

of marriage.

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His parents emigrated from Poland to Prince George in 1929. Walter was born in Prince George in 1934; the second oldest of the six children of Michal and Stethanja Shelest.

Walter was raised and educated in Prince George. He attended Central Fort George School on Harper Street and graduated from Prince George junior secondary school in 1952.

In the summer of 1951, he lived in a logging camp and worked for the company that did all the logging to develop the Toombs Road subdivision.

Walter said, "I remember that summer very well. It was hard work; I was the trim sawyer and I worked alongside Howard Lloyd who was the cat skinner. I don't remember the rest of the crew but I do remember that it was a good crew."

After he completed high school, he worked for a local gas station until he moved to Kitimat. When he arrived in Kitimat, he not only found a good job opportunity working for Kemano at the Alcan power house he also met and later married Marilyn Peacock who turned out to be the love of his life.

Her parents had moved from Ontario to Kitimat to work for a construction company on the Kemano project.

Marilyn and her girlfriend were out walking one day and they happened to walk past the loading bay where Walter was working in the warehouse. They spotted Walter and the girlfriend dared Marilyn to go with her into the warehouse to meet Walter, a fellow that she

happened to know.

Marilyn was interested so she stepped up to the dare, went in to look this guy over and found him to be very nice. They had a great visit and Walter invited her to a movie and of course Marilyn agreed to meet him at the movie.

It turns out that Walter was the sideline projectionist at the movie house; Marilyn never missed a movie after their first movie together. They became an item, eventually married and the rest is history.

The young couple got married in 1956, started a family and moved to Prince George in 1961.

Walter worked for R.F. Klein Contractors and later went on to start a small

plumbing business of his own. He eventually expanded and took on the Aqua Soft Water Conditioning service and installed water conditioning equipment, water treatments and water filtration systems and offered water softening tank rentals.

He studied, earned his plumbing certification and his Trade Qualification (TQ) status and then sub-contracted work for the pulp mills.

Walter said, "As a side business we did demolition contracting. In the mid '70s, we did the salvage work for the removal of the Roses Ice Cream Factory which is now the parkade across the street from where the Citizen used to be located on Brunswick Street.

"In the late '70s, we removed the old Chrysler dealership building on Sixth and Queensway which also became a parkade. The Chrysler dealership moved to the Spruceland area and became the Spruceland Chrysler building and many years later we salvaged that building as

well. Fifteen years ago we salvaged the Esso station on 15th and Central."

Walter semi-retired in 2014 and is still involved in the business.

In 1972, Walter started to develop property on Shelest Road in the area of Hornby Road and the Old Summit Lake Road. That project still keeps him busy on a regular basis.

Marilyn worked as a secretary for the school board and retired after 27 years of service. She first worked at the Connaught Jr. secondary school until 1971

and then for Lakewood Jr. secondary.

She said, "I enjoyed my work and I always considered it a wonderful job. I worked with great people and I loved the kids. It still makes my day when students stop to say hello because they remembered me from their school days."

Walter was elected as a School District 57 school board trustee in 1972 and served a two-year term under Superintendent D.P. Todd who, at that time, was the first superintendent to be appointed by the school board.

Walter said, "Back then if student enrolment was under 20,000 students the superintendent was appointed by the B.C. government. School District 57 now had over 20,000 students which gave the school board the authority to appoint their own superintendent."

Over the years, Walter volunteered for the Prince George Junior Chamber of Commerce Jaycees and served as the local president and later as the district president for northern B.C.

Working quietly in the background, Marilyn volunteered her time with the Jayceettes.

Marilyn was one of the founding members of Beta Sigma Phi Chapter in Prince George, which is an international women's friendship sorority and said, "It was a great organization. I met a great bunch of ladies and I made many good and long-lasting friends over the years. We all had more fun than we knew what to do with. It was such a fun time as we kept to the ideals of Beta Sigma Phi."

Walter and Marilyn had three daughters, who in turn gave them three grandchildren.

Marilyn said, "We are over the moon about them all. We are truly blessed. After raising our three beautiful daughters they blessed us with these wonderful grandchildren and our lives revolve around them all.

"In 2016 we celebrated 60 years together; our girls planned a great party in our backyard and the entire family was together for the celebration. It was such a wonderful day. In fact the weather was just as beautiful on the day of our anniversary party as it was on the day we

got married.

"We recently celebrated 61 years together and we will soon be greatgrandparents.

I am thankful for my family, a wonderful husband who was a great father to our girls and I have to say that it just doesn't get any better than that as we spend our time growing old

together."

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