Frank Yochim (1937 – 2018)

Written by Harold McNeill on December 26th, 2018. Posted in Biographies

Frank Yochim (1937 – 2018)

The post opens with two slideshows, one that reveals Franks deep connection to his family, friends, workmates and community and, the second, a look at the family and friends he left behind as they gathered in celebration of his life and in support of one another.

Frank Yochim Memorial

Family Time: Reflections

Songs:  It’s a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, and You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Randy Newman from the movie soundtrack, Toy Story.


In December 2018, we bid a final farewell to my brother-in-law Frank Yochim who joined our family fifty-seven years ago when he married my next younger sister, Louise Kathleen McNeill.  In this collaborative post, we refer to the memories of his wife, children and friends to gain a measure of the man, who, in many ways was not easily defined even by those closest to him.

It was his first-born, Gregory Frank Yochim, (photo) who took up the challenge of completing the eulogy for his father. In a short period after arriving from Phoenix, Arizona where he and his family live, Greg along with his brother Lorin Yochim, pulled together a dazzling series of anecdotes from their siblings, other family members and friends, anecdotes that left everyone laughing and crying, often at the same time.

It was a challenging half hour that first-born son whose emotions were always close to the surface, as in his words: “ If I watch a video of two puppies playing, it makes me cry. If you were at my wedding twenty-seven years ago you’ll remember that I could barely make it through the reception speeches.”  The eulogy was then followed by a six-minute slideshow prepared by third oldest son, Lorin Yochim. If there was a dry eye in the house when Greg finished, and I doubt there was, there certainly wasn’t when that slideshow was complete.

Seeing and feeling the heartfelt response of over two hundred and fifty people paying their respects at the Harbour Light Alliance Church, left no doubt Frank will be long remembered not only for his good works but also for the love he quietly spread among those who knew him best, his family and friends. In the following, I have italicized the words of Greg, his siblings and others who lovingly remembered Frank.  We begin with Greg:

1. Yochim Family History

Dad was born on a farm in Scott, Saskatchewan June 13th, 1937, the second oldest of seven children born to Michael and Caroline Yochim. After their first daughter died in, Dad grew up as the oldest child. Another son also died in childbirth, so they were a family of five siblings, Frank, Genevieve, Melvin, Marvin and Bryan with all being present here today.

Mike and Caroline Yochim with their extended family
Top Row: 
Reggie, Stephen, Charlene, Candice, Mark, Shawna
Middle Row: Marvin, Paul, Leslie, Genevieve, Bryon, Monique, Debbie, Carolyn,
Amber, Frank, Louise, Carrie, Melvin
Bottom Row: Greg, Karena, Caroline (Mom), Mike (Dad), BJ (Bobbi Jo)

In 1948, the family moved to Unity, Saskatchewan where his dad got a job assembling farm equipment. Even though dad was only 11, he was the man of the house while his dad was away. They lived in Unity and for a short time in Outlook until moving to Cold Lake in June of 1953 when dad was about 16 years old.

 After completing grade eight or nine, he quit school and went to work on the airbase as a labourer. Even though he described himself as a ‘skinny little guy’, the work muscled him up, and that’s pretty much how most people remember him.

 After some time as a labourer he decided that wasn’t for him and he switched his occupation to painting which he continued for most of his working life other than brief periods dabbling in several other business ventures, including selling furniture, a snowmobile business and a toy and hobby shop. Then, of course, the Marina that was his full-time evening and weekend summer work. I’ll share more about the marina later.

 My dad was a relatively quiet yet very social person. Many say his quiet nature comes from his dad who was often known as “Silent Mike” by those who knew him. I think he likely got it from both his parents because I remember my grandma as being a relatively quiet person as well, but for some reason, I’m not aware of anyone calling her ‘Silent Caroline.’

2. The Mischievous Frank Yochim

My mom’s brother Harold knew my dad as a young man and shared with me some of my dad’s mischievous side. It’s funny that he never shared too much about his driving exploits with us kids when we got our licenses, which was probably smart, but, in his twenties, he had a classic 57 Plymouth Fury, and his driving exploits became widely known in the community.

 He and his friends Kenny Tattinger and Ronny May were known as the ‘rat pack’, but dad’s Plymouth always left those guys in the dust when it came to laying a strip of rubber up Highway 28. The ‘rat pack’ kept the town cop and the local Mounties on their toes and probably provided some entertainment for the lone police officer in a quiet little town like Cold Lake.

Harold: It’s interesting how little things slip out, as after the memorial service when family and friends were gathered at the Yochim family home, Greg told me something he did that rivalled his dad’s ingenuity in thwarting the cops.  This background. While Frank never drank (or drank very little as far as I know), he always had a wee nip in the car for close friends.  Those who grew up during those years knew it was illegal to transport liquor other than from the liquor store to a residence, yet Frank always had a shot of alcohol in that Fury and never got caught. Lucky son-of-a-gun. Or was he lucky?

Only years later did Frank tell me his secret – a bladder in the windshield washer tank, with a hose leading to a shut off in the glove compartment.  Open the compartment door, place a cup under the hidden tap, press the windshield washers and “viola”.  The driver’s window gets washed while the passenger got a shot of hard liquor.  At a gathering today, that other family secret – Greg did the same thing during in his high school years (and never got caught). I wasn’t as lucky in getting away from the cops (my licence was under suspension when Louise and Frank were married), so, instead, I became one.  There is more about escapades of Frank and his Fury in the Cold Lake High School Series (Link Here).

Those who knew dad in ’57 probably never imaged that four years later an attractive young Cold Lake Grad who excelled in school and sports would capture his heart, and he would settle down into marriage and fatherhood.

 They were married July 22nd, 1961, as many others were following their graduation from High School. I’m going to stop right here because I’m not sure if I should share this. Well, why not? It happened at my mom and dad’s 25th-anniversary party held at my grandparent’s farm. There were a good number of people there and lots going on when suddenly I was alone with my thoughts. I sat there pondering for a moment the fact that it was my mom and dad’s 25th anniversary and it was only four months until my 25th birthday. How in the heck does that work?

Harold: Needless to say, that revelation brought forth a good deal of laughter from those gathered and even a hearty chuckle from my red-faced sister. I remember finally arriving at a similar conclusion about my own birth and in later years asked my mom if I was three months premature. Greg continues,

Their marriage was one to be remembered not only for the great celebration but for the torrential rain that hit Cold Lake that day. So much rain fell that day that it ran down the highway past the Roundel Hotel and into the lake.

Again, I add a bit of detail.  Following the torrential rain and before the reception, Frank went over the Penner’s Garage and filled up with gas.  A half block later the Fury stalled out.  I lent Frank my poor second cousin of a car, a ’54 Ford Custom line, 4-door Sedan (as mentioned my driver’s licence was under suspension at the time).  Frank went to Penner’s, filled up and half a block later the car stalled out. After the reception, Frank and Louise somehow got to Bonnyville where they spent their wedding night.  As it turned out, Penner’s underground fuel tanks had flooded during the rain.

3. The Biblical Yochims

Perhaps that rain, of biblical proportions they say, was the foreshadowing of things to come. Genesis 1:28 says that man is to “be fruitful and multiply” and I guess dad and mom took that seriously.

Clan Yochim at the family home in Cold Lake (2017)

Frank and Louise Yochim surrounded by their children: Four sons; Greg (Merle) of Gold Canyon, AZ, Mark of Calgary, Lorin (Jin) of Edmonton, and Stephen (Pam) of Cold Lake (Mark was absent), three daughters; Charlene of Cold Lake, Shawna of Calgary, and Karena (Brad) of Airdrie.

And, their fourteen grandchildren; Candice (Jason), Skyler (Ester), Jamie, Carmen, Ashley, Kelsey, Stephanie, Brook, Sydney, Brody, Connor, Laur, Kona, and Heidi.

I was born in November 1961 and, although the delivery almost left dad as a single parent (that would have been interesting), six more children followed over the next twenty-one years. Yes, that’s right, twenty-one years. It was almost like two families, the first pack of five, me, then in quick succession, Mark, Charlene, Shawna, and Lorin. Karena and Steve appear to be some afterthought I suppose.   All of us kids are here today except for Mark, who lives in Calgary, and whom, I think, I’ll refer to him as Silent Mark.

Even though I know my dad drove my mom crazy at times, she describes him as a “dependable, honest, conscientious, funny, quiet, loving, and a giant of a man.” He was all that, but he did have his faults. One of those things is the way he would take care of things on the ‘honey do’ list. Our little house only had one bathroom, and for years my mom wanted my dad to add another bathroom downstairs.

I guess he finally agreed because when he finally decided to take on that project he did it right in the middle of some event with a whole bunch of us kids, maybe all of us, coming home for a visit. That was pretty much the way my dad did any major project at home, not in advance of the urgency but right in the middle of it. On another occasion, he decided to replace a fully functioning (yet slightly damaged) toilet with a new one right in the middle of a visit with about 15 of us kids and grandkids.

My dad would take on any project on his own, rarely hiring a professional to do the job. In doing so, he caused my mom a lot of grey hair and frustration but taught us kids that you can do anything to which you set your mind. By the way, last summer when my dad was sick and could no longer go downstairs, I snuck his good friend Gerard Michaud into the house to see what was required to fix one of dad’s plumbing repairs properly.

Over the past ten days, so many people have shared thoughts and memories of dad that it’s been hard to compile them all and to share what he meant to so many people. However, given that Pastor Jeff told me I have up to two hours to speak, get comfortable and I’ll dive right in.

4. Franks Marina

My sister Shawna describes dad as, “a dad, husband, son, brother, uncle, the father of seven and patriarch to twenty-seven, he was a community leader, neighbour, mentor and great friend to all.  So many of you have shared moments that reflect your thoughts and memories of my Dad, many of which were from his thirty-year stint as owner and operator of Frank’s Marina”.

 Even though it was his work as a painter that put food on the table, for many people in Cold Lake there is little distinction between the Yochim family and the marina. Over the years it was known as Kinosoo Marine, Cold Lake Marine and then finally my brother, Silent Mark inadvertently changed the name when he started answering the phone ‘Frank’s Marina.’

This classic “A” Frame, was the second of three Marina buildings Frank operated during Franks thirty-year stint. This photo from around 1989. A footnote contains a newspaper article and more photos about Franks transition into the business.
Following Frank’s retirement, his son, Lorin Yochim, took over the Marina for a few years, but on being drawn to the wonders of the world, Lorin left Cold Lake to pursue educational opportunities in Canada and China.

In some ways, the marina wasn’t a just a business but a gift from the Yochim family to the people of Cold Lake. The marina was the centre of dad’s summer social life, and as a family, we gave up all of our summers for the marina so no summer vacations for us. However, when you live in Cold Lake in the summer, who needs to go anywhere else?

Even if we could have gone away for a summer vacation, we wouldn’t have had any money to do it because my dad would generously extend credit to so many people to finance their summer boating fun. He would then carry those debts through the winter months. In spring our family would anxiously await the day the ice went off the lake because we knew there would be a flood of people coming in to clear their accounts in preparation of another summer of boating fun and along with it the cash that we had been missing all winter long. I don’t remember my dad ever really complaining about that, the only thing he did was tease those people about it and hope they didn’t continue the habit the next fall. Of course, they never changed their ways, and he never broke his practice of trusting people even when they proved they didn’t deserve it.

For the most part, the early days of the marina were all about fishing, and I think all of us kids had the same experience as my sister Shawna about fishing with our dad, the fish count was almost always the same, zero. When he went on his own, it seemed he was almost always successful. That’s most likely because when dad took us, we weren’t fishing we were hanging out spending time together drinking pop and eating our lunch of chocolate bars, which was much more fun for my dad than cleaning smelly fish when you got home.

Photo: Frank getting ready for a fishing trip with Sydney, Connor, Paxton.

All the grandkids also have memories of fishing with Grandpa waiting for him to decide if the fish they caught were ‘keepers.’ I wonder how big a fish had to be to be a ‘keeper’ if dad didn’t feel like cleaning them at the end of the trip. It’s good that the kids didn’t read the fishing regulations and figure it out for themselves.

Being in the Yochim clan came with some marina perks as Mark’s daughter Kelsey shared, you could go behind the counter where the ice cream was because your ‘grandpa owned the place.’ The truth is that those perks extended to probably half the kids in town at some point over the years.

During the summers it was probably rare that one us kids wasn’t present somewhere on the marina. Dad had a PA system that he could use to ‘adjust’ the behaviour of people around the docks. Karena remembers one time in her mid-teens when it was ‘cool’ to stand on the breakwater as the waves crashed over, probably one of the most dangerous things kids could do there. Dad’s booming voice came over the PA, “Karena Yochim, will you please get down from there.” Feeling bad, and probably a bit scared, she just headed straight home on her bike likely wondering what awaited her when she got back.

Photo/Video:  Hugh waves hit Cold Lake Marina dock. Watch this video to see why Papa Frank was concerned for the safety of his youngest daughter (YouTube Video)

I’m not sure she recalls what discipline awaited her, but I can confidently guess that there were likely no consequences because he just simply wasn’t a disciplinarian. I think the worst any of us got was a scowl, which from a 220-pound man was probably enough of a deterrent.

Dad wasn’t one to heap praise on his kids as many parents do. As a kid, or even as an adult, if you were embarking on a new adventure or goal, he would just ask, ‘how do you plan to do that’ and then merely acknowledge your response and let you go off to succeed or fail, learning more from your mistakes than he could have taught you with words. Being a stubborn person himself, he probably assumed we were all stubborn too and wouldn’t listen to his advice anyway. It was a reasonable assumption on his part because all of my siblings are very stubborn.

In some ways, my youngest brother Steve probably expressed in words how our dad’s support of his kids played out in real life; Steve posted on Facebook, “No words seem right. I feel like 36 years wasn’t enough time for me to get to know my dad. Our relationship wasn’t one of many words, but because I see more and more of him in myself as time passes, I know it was a better relationship than I previously realized. There wasn’t any “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” exchanged, not that I can remember.

But that’s ok for me, and I hope it was ok for him. I’m grateful for everything he taught me through his example. So, thanks for letting me use all your tools, work with you when it would have been easier and faster to do it without me, asking me about jobs that I was working on, asking me to do up quotes for the painting business, for letting us build a fort in the backyard even though it was hideous and made out of scraps (it was too big!), for the sandbox and especially for all my siblings. I love our big family! I’m proud of you, I love you, and I will miss you, dad!”

Now it wouldn’t be right only to share the good side of our dad, because he had this side to him that I suppose could be seen as somewhat malicious. Although not directed toward any one person, it was more to a type of person. The kind of person he didn’t care for was the type of person who today could get themselves elected president of the US. I’ll try to explain by giving a couple of examples of this, one I heard just a few days ago and then one that I witnessed, and participated in, many years ago when I was about 14 years old.

5. A Strong Social Conscience

The more recent incident, or incidents I expect, happened after I had already moved away. Some people walked their dogs along the boardwalk of the marina and on occasion would allow their dogs to do their business and not clean it up. It wasn’t a problem for the guilty party of course because they just carried on walking their dog. However, it had a pretty negative, and disgusting impact on all the other Marina users. Dad became frustrated by this and so, to correct the behaviour because those people never listen, he would pound in a stake with a small handwritten sign indicating the name of the person who hadn’t cleaned up after their dog.

The other incident that is so clear in my memories was a time when I was fourteen, and it involved one of the ‘regular guys’ well known around the marina. Today I’ll refer to him as an unnamed guy. When the guy comes back from fishing, he had a habit of sinking his empty beer bottles right in the marina area, cleaning his fish on the side of the dock, leaving scales and blood behind, and throwing the bag of fish guts into the garbage can right beside where everyone else would walk by for a stroll on the dock. The result was a bad smell and an abundance of flies.

Unnamed Guy was also in the habit of parking his car where it blocked other people from getting by and then he would head out fishing. One day, after returning from fishing and dropping the bag of fish guts in the garbage can, the unnamed drove off in his car for a brief period and then, after returning to his usual parking spot, parking right in the spot that obstructed everybody else, he headed back toward his boat.

Not wanting him to park there, this scrawny, little Greg Yochim called out, ‘hey unnamed guy, you can’t park there.’ Turning briefly he tossed me the keys and said ‘if you don’t want it there, move it yourself’ and continued to his boat and headed out on the lake. I asked my dad if I should move the car and dad said sure, but make sure to put that bag of guts in the trunk, so he doesn’t forget to take them home later. So I did. Four or five days then, an unnamed guy stopped parking in that spot and ceased leaving fish guts in the garbage can.

So why did I share those two stories? Even though it’s not a topic we would have ever discussed with words, I think that my dad a profound sense of justice and fairness and he wasn’t afraid to send a message to those who refused to respect the spaces shared by others. I think that he passed on that sense of fairness through his actions and it has influenced many others, including me.

6. The little house that Dad built

We were one of the larger families in Cold Lake, and my friends would sometimes ask me how we
all fit in that little house. Little did they know that over the years, our house was home to many more kids that my mom adopted in and of course my dad also adopted them as his own. Some were relatives, but most were just kids from Cold Lake may be the son of a single mom who couldn’t make it without some extra help.

As Lorin put it, “children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, Frank spent his life surrounded by a veritable flood of children. Indeed, one
could be forgiven for mistaking the many kids who were friends of his kids, neighbours, little fishers and swimmers at the marina for his own, amongst them Andre; David, JoAnne, Carl; the Kasper kids; Sam and Kaylee.” There are too many names to list here, and he loved them all.

Photo: Frank, babe in arms, Carmen Yochim, Skyler Yochim, Stephanie Yochim, Jamie Yochim, (Jesse Rabidoux?). Can someone confirm the child on right?

“Over the years running the marina and Frank’s painting dad was also a mentor to many young men. Many guys got there the first job at the marina and Frank’s painting was a launching pad for some guys into businesses on their own. As one of them, Kelly Sweeney, shared this “whether he meant to do so or not, Frank mentored many Cold Lake men as a boss and co-worker and friend, always setting an example through kindness, hard work, and honesty.”

When it came to the painting business dad was always the one that would give a chance to people who everyone else had given up on, and there was a long line of them. Lorin touches on that with these comments;

“It’s often hard to see, or we are reluctant to see how our parents have influenced us, and it’s especially hard to look at when our lives are far removed from those with whom we lived and the places we grew up. Dad was my first boss and the one who taught by his example how to be honest and patient and kind toward others —some well-heeled, some down-trodden; some deserving, others less so. Sometimes it wasn’t easy. Often it was tough, and I won’t delve into specific examples. But he never really let anything budge him from the principles that guided him, principles that many have mentioned as they’ve expressed condolences over the past number of days.”

I’m not always able to follow my dad’s example, just as I’m sure he occasionally didn’t live up to his own. I don’t follow him in every value, belief, and preference, but there are some that he passed on that I see in myself almost every day. I know I’ll never remove those from myself. Nor do I want to.”

There are so many memories that people shared that there just isn’t time to read them all. Many of those people are here today and after this service, there will be time for you to visit and do that. However, my mom’s sister Dianne, who is only seven years older than me, as much as she wanted to be here, could not travel and so I want to make an exception and share what she would have wanted to share herself:

“Frankie was with our family from my earliest memories. His steadying, strong presence was always there in the background, and we all knew we always could count on his strength. There have been many pictures posted this week of Frankie with a baby or child on his knee as, at our family gatherings – he had such a love for, and connection with, little ones.

Photo:  Candice helps Grandpa to shave.

What we don’t see in the pictures is the strength he provided to our community during our dark days – when a tragedy had occurred on the lake or a search was needed because someone was missing. When I got myself into a dangerous situation and needed him to come to be a strong, calm presence to help me extricate myself. For most of the second year of her life, I entrusted Frankie and my sister to care for my eldest daughter while I got on my feet.”

The Marina, the paint vans over the years, the great renovations he did on their home to keep it comfy and modern while constantly modifying to accommodate at first a growing, then a shrinking family are all vivid memories.

7. There’s no place like home

Even though my dad could be described as a homebody, he didn’t spend a lot of time at home. He was only a homebody when it came to Cold Lake. Although he would occasionally make a trip to BC or SK, some to Calgary or Edmonton and a couple times to Arizona, he was most content just staying right here in Cold Lake where life was simple and predictable.

After his retirement, my dad could most often be found in his big recliner in the living room, sometimes watching TV or doing Sudoku but many times just sitting and thinking, probably waiting for a visit from one of his grandkids so they could pile 20 pounds of toys on top of him.

But he also did have his regular standing coffee dates at A & W with Gerard Michaud and Tom Cove. I don’t know everything they discussed in those meetings but I’ll guess it was a blend of politics, sports and local news. I also know from reliable sources that my dad would brag up what his kids and grandkids were up to. And by brag up I mean he would simply state the facts of what they were doing because he always remained a humble man.

Besides his love of people there were a lot of things our dad did or loved:

Driving a horse-drawn caboose with his sister and a wood burning stove
Reading the stars
Inspecting his brother Bryon’s work during his time working for dad
Noodles that his mom made on Fridays
Carrot cake without icing (oh yeah, I already said desert)
Practical jokes
Helping someone when everyone else gave up on them
Size 15 Crocs with the big toe cut out to make a bit more room
Matrimonial cake (there I go with dessert again)
Actions more than words
Ice cream (is that a snack or dessert?)
The animated version of Beauty and the Beast (he was caught watching it alone)
A comfy Ikea chair, until it broke and left him lying on the floor laughing his head off.
Not painting
Figuring out how stuff worked and how to fix it.
Playing mini-sticks with Steve
Playing his voice command car starter.
The list goes on

Laura Isabel Skarsen (McNeill)(Wheeler)

One thing I don’t want to miss and couldn’t find the right place to mention earlier is that dad was a great son-in-law to my grandma (Laura Skarsen/McNeill/Wheeler). They were great friends, and my grandma loved my dad, and he loved her.

And, for me (Harold) he was a great brother-in-law.  My time with Frank was limited as I moved to Victoria not long after he and Louise were married. However, for a few months after they were married and before I moved, I lived with them in that little house that Frank built.

A couple of memories pop up from that time when Greg was still a baby. One night Louise got up to heat a bottle for Greg’s early morning snack, unfortunately, she fell back to sleep before it heated as Greg had given up crying. The next thing, we all woke to the smell of scorched milk and burnt plastic.  The water had boiled out of the pan which melted into the burner and the plastic bottle had long since burst and the milk also drained onto the burner.

Also on the humorous side, and before I left for Victoria, a young woman moved in with the Yochim’s after her dad moved the rest of the family to Edmonton where he had a new job.  It seems the young woman (a High School friend of Louise) was in the habit of flitting back and forth to the bathroom while scantily clad. Ah, yes, that was before the second bathroom was added downstairs.

I don’t think it bothered Frank (and it certainly wouldn’t have bothered me – I was single), but it did raise the hackles of my wee sister. I checked her FB page and she’s still friends with that young woman.  Perhaps it was the actions of that young woman that inspired Frank to move the downstairs bathroom to the top of the ‘honey do’ list.

8. Family Visits

Over the years, our growing families spent many days and weeks together while on family holidays and on special occasions. All the family members have remained close even though sometimes separated by great distances.  The anchors for our extended families were the Skarsen Farm of Wilfred and Laura on the Primrose Highway, Louise and Frank’s home in Cold Lake, and Franks Marina on the Cold Lake waterfront. Whether visiting in the summer or winter, there was always a wide variety of interesting things to do for children and adults alike.  Like the Yochims, Lynn and I, along with our four children, Jay, Kari, Christine and Sean always spent considerable time at the Marina, mostly playing but also working the concession or helping with odd jobs when needed.

Grandma's Family Group

The photo includes the other side of Franks extended family taken in July 2008 at the 90th birthday celebration for Laura Skarsen (McNeill/Wheeler).  Her husband, and our Step-Father, Wilfred Skarsen, had passed away a few years earlier.

Back Row (L to R): Jin An (partially hidden) and Lorin Yochim, Sean McNeill, Mark Yochim, Greg and Merle Yochim, Frank Yochim (standing behind Merle), Stephen Yochim and Pam Dong Yochim, Charlene Yochim, Krista Miron-Rabideaux (McNeill) and friend, Candice Yochim.

Second Row (L to R): Ed Walker (holding Grayson) and Kari Walker (McNeill), Jesse Rabidoux (partially hidden behind Grayson), Christine McNeill, Jay McNeill, Louise Yochim (McNeill), Skyler Yochim, Dianne McNeill, Shawna Buenaventura (Yochim), Lynn McNeill (Davis) and Harold McNeill, Karena Yochim, Stephanie Yochim, Jamie Yochim, Laura Skarsen (McNeill) (Wheeler), Ashley Price and Luna, Kelsey Yochim and Landon, Cassandra Rabidoux, Brooke Buenaventura.

Front Row (L to R): Amy Rabidoux, Sydney Buenaventura, Carmen Yochim, Connor Schumacker, Francis Buenaventura and Brody.

Not Present: Michel Payeur (work commitments) and Kaiya McNeill-Payeur who was travelling in Europe.

Personal Time with Frank

The only time I spent extended ‘work’ time with Frank was while renovating Mom’s home after she passed away in 2008.  Frank was a dream work-partner as there was not a job he couldn’t do and although I sometimes said, “that’s good enough Frank,” he would continue working as if he never heard me until the job met his high standards of workmanship.

I also got to see the social Frank, as before starting work each morning, we always hit one of the coffee shops for breakfast. It was like being at a daily meet and greet as Frank seemed to know everyone at each of the coffee shops and businesses, and it was always a cheerful greeting.

Looking across the fifty-seven-year spectrum of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, I can say with certainty they have all been blessed with the essence of both Frank and Louise within their genetic codes.  As Greg stated in his summary:

If my mom was the glue that held our family together, dad was the weight that kept us grounded. So many people have shared with us what our dad meant to them and through all that we’ve learned different parts of him that we never knew before. I expect that if in some way we were able to put together all of those pieces, the sum of all the parts would still fall short of what a great man my dad was.

And, thank everyone for taking the time to remember this great man.

The Yochim and McNeill extended family and friends

Frank Yochim

At the age of 81, on December 2, 2018, in his home of 57 years, Frank Yochim passed from this life into the arms of his Lord.

He leaves to treasure their many wonderful memories: his wife of 57 years Louise Yochim of Cold Lake, four sons; Greg (Merle) of Gold Canyon, AZ, Mark of Calgary, Lorin (Jin) of Edmonton, and Stephen (Pam) of Cold Lake, three daughters; Charlene of Cold Lake, Shawna of Calgary, and Karena (Brad) of Airdrie.

Fourteen grandchildren; Candice (Jason), Skyler (Ester), Jamie, Carmen, Ashley, Kelsey, Stephanie, Brook, Sydney, Brody, Connor, Laur, Kona, and Heidi.

Six great-grandchildren Maryah, Paxton, Melanie, Landon, Peyton, and Alexandra.

One sister; Genevieve Beaupre of Cold Lake, three brothers; Melvin, Marvin (Carolyn) of Cold Lake, and Bryon (Debbie) of Edmonton.

Numerous nieces and nephews, special “coffee buddies” Gerard Michaud and Tom Cove. He was predeceased by his parents Mike and Caroline Yochim of Cold Lake, brother in law Paul Beaupre and one infant sister and brother.

The Celebration of Life was held on December 15, 2018, at 1:00 pm at Harbour Light Alliance Church, Cold Lake, AB with Pastor Jeff Manwarren officiating.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Stollery Children’s Foundation or Stars Air Ambulance.

Further Reading

Frank’s Marina: Tales of the Unknown

In modern times, Frank Yochim was likely the most experienced fisherman and boater on Cold Lake.  He knew the history of the lake and he knew of the dangers that lurked in those deep, dark waters. Of those dangers, the legendary giant fish, the Big Kinosso, sat at the top.  My own dad (Dave McNeill) had nearly been killed by the fish, and many others over the years had close encounters.

Sometime in the late ’90s, while on a summer holiday at the lake and after making friends with a family from Fort McMurray who had recently immigrated from South Africa, Frank and I again realized how dangerous the lake was for the novice fisherman.  Following is an excerpt from Part 5 of the Kinosso Legend series.

“A split second after that Sampie’s downrigger was snagged and began spooling out at 45 degrees behind the boat. This time the steel line did not snap and the downrigger was pulled clean from the transom. Frank, who had been listening intently to Darren, asked just one question: “What was your location?”  Darren responded that he thought they were just approaching the point leading into French Bay!

Frank and I exchanged glances, but Sampie remained unconcerned. He was likely more concerned about having been skunked and having lost some very expensive fishing gear. Nicole, of course, was ecstatic as she had a fish to take home to show her mom and older sister.

On the way home from the Marina, Frank and I chatted about the events and agreed that as neither Sampie nor Nicole observed the whirlpool, the wave or the dark shadow, Sampi probably thought Darren was being paranoid. We were both certain that Darren’s account of the events was accurate and that his observations strongly suggested a close encounter with the Big Kinosoo.”  (The Big Kinosso, Part 5)

In another part of this series, an RCAF amphibious Otter crashed while on a practice landing run. It is highly likely the Big Kinosso was the direct cause of that crash  (Otter Down).  The sunken Otter was towed back to Franks Marina where the salvage operation took place. Link here for an outline of the five-part series:  The Adventure Series

Frank’s Marina:  The following article appeared in the Treasury Branch Annual Report & Financial Statements of 1979-1980.

Denis McMillian
shows off his catch outside the original marina building in which Frank
first entered the Marina business.

Shawna and Erin McAllister sitting beside the old
Marina building waiting for Dad (Frank)

Linked Photo Albums:   Over time I will continue to link photo albums that share moments in time with Frank, Louise and their family.

North Bay (2008):  The North Beach on Cold Lake is a perfect place to find solitude for family gatherings.  In this series Franks Water Taxi (he was retired from the marina) was in regular use and almost all the time, filled with kids (North Bay Beach)


(Visited 866 times, 1 visits today)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

Comments (2)

  • Louise
    December 21, 2018 at 6:57 pm |

    Amazing collection of photos of the weekend ❤️❤️

    • Harold McNeill
      December 23, 2018 at 3:59 am |

      Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother

Leave a comment



  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.