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Thursday , 5 August 2021
Randall Krys, playing his accordion. Photo submitted.

Elk Point teacher, football coach, performer Randall Krys remembered

Teacher, football coach, and renaissance man Randall Sylvester Myron Krys passed away on October 8 in hospital in Edmonton.

Born in St. Paul on Nov. 14, 1964, Randall was the oldest of three children born to Steve and Jeannette Krys. He grew up on a farm in the county without the convenience of running water or electricity.

His youngest sister Lily Krys, remembers always having fun with him when they were growing up.

Randall Krys as a teen on the farm, accompanied by his dog. Photo submitted.

“He had a dog, a long haired Husky and he made it not a halter, but something out of leather straps just like the dogs that pull the sleds in the Arctic. He put it on the dog so he could pull me around on the toboggan. That was amazing,” said Lily.

“He liked to go in the bush to go trapping. Squirrels, muskrats, or find beavers.

“He sold his skins to the fur trader that came to town once a month. But he enjoyed it,” said Lily.

His attention then turned to his studies. A Rutherford Scholar, Randall graduated from St. Paul Regional High School in 1982. He went on to study at the University of Alberta in Edmonton where he completed his Bachelor’s of Education in 1986.

For a few years, he taught in Lac La Biche before moving back to St. Paul in 1990 to teach at F.G. Miller Jr./Sr. High School in Elk Point. Randall taught “just about everything over the years,” but mainly social studies and music.

“He lived that every moment of his life. If you had a question about why a certain situation was the way it was, he had incredible insight and was able to offer it in a way that made sense,” said Rhea Michaud, his partner of seven years.

“If you didn’t get it the first time, he was very able to figure out a different way to approach the subject so that it would make sense to you. He was really, really an amazing teacher. Even for those of us who weren’t enrolled in his class.”

A father of three children, (Dmitri, Liam, and Jordan) Randall inspired a love not just for social studies and music, but also for sports. His oldest son Dmitri now teaches and coaches football himself in High River.

“Especially in recent years, we talked a lot about teaching because I teach social studies as well. So connecting over that and sharing stories and talking about history and laughing about the world,” said Dmitri Krys.

“He definitely wanted us to find our passions,” he said.

Football

For Randall, that passion was football.  He played one season with the Golden Bears practice squad and went on to spend the rest of his life, 33 years, as a coach and referee with the St. Paul Bengals and St. Paul Lions.

“He coached and he reffed. But he had such great integrity,” said Todd Tanasichuk,  head coach of the bantam St. Paul Bengals.

“When he put that ref on, there was no ‘gimmes’ for us out there. If it was a penalty against us, he was going to call it.”

Tanasichuk remembers Randall as a quiet and unassuming guy with varied interests.

Randall Krys, in his role as a referee for St. Paul Football. Photo submitted.

“But when I think of him, I think of a guy with a lot of dignity and character…a kind of a renaissance man is how I’d describe him. He had a rough side through his football. And then he had these other sides, these artistic sides as well,” he said.

Performance

A founding member of the Elk Point Dinner Theatre, Randall acted in numerous plays and musicals. He remains best remembered for his role as Tevye in the 2000 and 2010 productions of Fiddler on the Roof.

“He said that role was made for me,” said René Gascon, a lifelong friend of Randall’s.

“He came to me one time, and he showed me something from down in Toronto. I don’t know how it got out there, but there was a write up of him, somewhere in Toronto, about doing the Fiddler on the Roof here.

“I don’t know who put it in, but he was pretty pumped about it. He was stoked about that,” said Gascon. [“Shalom Toronto featured in rural Alberta theatre” Shalom Toronto, Issue 296, Page 33. March 18, 2010.]

Randall Krys, as Tevye in an Elk Point Dinner Theatre production of Fiddler on the Roof. Photo submitted.

Randall’s baritone became a staple in a number of community choirs during his lifetime, particularly the Sunday choir at Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Paul.

“He could sing in English, he could sing in Ukrainian. Any instrument that you can think of that you put in front of him, he will play it, even without music sheets,” said Lily. She said Randall gravitated most towards the guitar, accordion, and piano.

“If he had a song on his head, he would pull out that instrument and just play it and write the notes down on paper so when he wanted to finish the song he could,” said Lily.

Randall continued to share his love of music after his cancer diagnosis in last October.

He gifted a hang drum to the chemotherapy unit at the Cross Cancer Institute when his first round of treatments wrapped up in April 2020, having been postponed first by a phone number error and then by COVID-19.

“He came home and planted and hilled 110 potatoes. And then in July, he told us his arm wasn’t right,” said Lily.

The cancer spread, first to his arm and then to his leg. By September, Randall knew his time was almost up and made a will.

“He told me, Lily, I’m going to the afterlife.”

Randall Krys was buried on Saturday at Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Paul. He was 55.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.