Tarabas, Donald Fredrik

August 16, 1937 – February 23, 2023
at the age of 85 years:     

It is with great sadness that we must announce the passing of Donald Fredrik Tarabas (aka Papa, Dad, Hubby, Kathleen’s ‘Babe’) age 85, who passed on Thursday the 23rd of February 2023.  He went peacefully in his sleep in his own bed, surrounded by hymns and love. He was no doubt greeted by his Mum and Dad, brothers, sister and childhood dog, Panda. 

From his birth on the 16th of August 1937 until his last days, he lived life to the fullest.  He was predeceased by his mother (Mary) and father (Stefan) and his 3 brothers, Pete, Karl and Walter, and his sister Elsie.  He leaves behind his wife Kathleen, daughter Colleen and son Dan.  He leaves behind seven Grandchildren.  Five on Colleen’s side: Andrew (Jessica), William (Christine), Catherine, Alex and Emma, and two on Dan’s side, Brennan (Jessica) and Arcassa (Joey). He also had three and a half Great-Grandchildren: Alistair, Cole, Evie and soon to be born, Lucas.

Don grew up in Sault Ste Marie and when he was 17 years old, he left ‘the Soo’ to join the Navy and served for 26 years, from 1954 – 1980.  During his Navy days, his favourite posting was to Bermuda where he took up scuba diving.  He loved to be in the water and continued to dive when posted to Masset on the west coast, until into his 40’s where he would don his tank, mask and fins to clean his swimming pool in Vernon BC.

He remained an eligible bachelor until he married Kathleen Ruth Griggs on the 30 June 1976.  They met in Masset and Kathleen had two well-behaved, very intelligent children of her own. (this is on the internet, so it must be true).  Don took up the challenge of raising a 9-year old boy and 6-year old girl and he did a great job as a father and a husband. Whether taking the family camping or fishing in Masset or picking blueberries in the fields of the Northwest Territories while posted to Inuvik, he always found ways to expose the kids to new experiences.   

He had an easy smile, and always made those around him feel comfortable. While stationed at CFS Inuvik as the Station Warrant Officer, he would invite retiring sailors over for a special dinner and thank them for their service.  He loved to cook with his lovely wife and together they put on many kitchen parties.  They always invited a few friends for dinner which was usually followed by a game of cards, some of which got pretty rowdy.  The children were usually in bed by that time but from their bedroom upstairs, they could hear the sound of laughing and rough housing/scrambling around the kitchen or even the living room during a game of spoons.  These dinners often had themes, where they would choose various cuisines such as Chinese, Hawaiian, Mexican, Italian or Ukrainian.  His Perogies and Borscht were especially delicious and all meals were made with love, the special ingredient that everyone appreciated.

After his retirement from the Navy, he worked for a few more years with Intercraft, putting on many miles driving around the lower mainland of BC until he fully retired in the late 80’s. Upon retirement, he and Kathy spent a lot of time on the road with their RV Trailer, heading down to California or Mexico for the winters and spending many sunny days on the golf course. On the road, they met many new people who would become lifelong friends. He had no problem making friends, and Don was known to be trustworthy and loyal.  He would not hesitate to lend a hand where needed. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Abbotsford for many years, whether contributing with his outstanding carpentry skills, or supporting fundraising efforts by selling raffle tickets in the mall.

He would give you the shirt off his back and showed his love of his friends and families not through his words, but through his works.  He spent innumerable hours helping family members improve or repair their homes. His skills included carpentry, installing Gyproc and crack-filling, plumbing or electrical work to name a few. His helping hands were always welcomed by whoever needed them.

Later in life, he became very interested in woodcarving and he learned a lot from his friends with the same interest.  His work even made the local newspaper on more than one occasion.  

He dabbled in real estate as an investment and he did pretty well.  Over the years he rented out single homes, a duplex and even a 10-unit apartment building.  With regards to investing, his advice was “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”, or “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. 

Don loved the outdoors and being in nature, and this love was passed onto his kids.  Like many Ukrainians, he enjoyed his libations and when good friends or family came over, he could often be heard making the toast “na zdorovya”, (to health, or to your health).  He never forgot his roots, and although his father rarely spoke of his time in the Canadian Internment Camps during and after WWI, Don embraced his Ukrainian roots and when cooking Ukrainian food, the English or Ukrainian word for any dish was often used interchangeably.

Don was cremated and his Granddaughter Arcassa (a ceramicist/potter), will be making an urn for his ashes, and he will be buried with his wife Kathleen when the time comes.   He was loved, and he will be missed.


  1. It was always a fun visit when Great Uncle Don came to visit the family in the Soo. He would stay at his brother Peter’s and I am Peter’s granddaughter Melanie. Uncle Don had an amazing personality. He always was the life of the family gatherings. I flew out on a CF flight to Calgary back in 2014 and drove all the way to Redwater to see him. We had a nice visit, he met my 2 year old son. That was the last time I got to see him. I lost track of him after that. But he will always have my deepest respect and it is a great sadness to hear of his passing.

  2. So Sorry to hear of Don passes after so long. Kathy please contact us in Vernon ,BC.

    Mel and Marg Berg at 250 295 2165. Hope to hear from you soon.

  3. An amazing man and a proud sailor. Just heard of his crossing the bar. He was one of the best and will be truly missed……..

  4. Dear Kathy, Dan, Colleen and family. Jo just happened across Don’s obituary on a North Bay website the other day and needless to say we were so shocked and saddened to read about Don’s passing. So many great and fond memories of our good times in the Arctic back in those halcyon days 76-78 in Inuvik at CFS Inuvik. Please know that our thoughts are with you and the family during this very rough time. Don will never be forgotten for the fine, talented gentleman that he was and also one of the finest Servicemen that I have ever had the privilege of serving with (even though he was Navy!). He was absolutely the best SWO that any CO could have had, hand-down.

    Love and hugs from us. Most sincerely, John and Jo

  5. To Kathy, Colleen, Dan, Family Members & Friends,
    When the members of the Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio (SUPRAD) System Oldtimers Association recently heard about Don’s passing on the 23rd of February, they were deeply saddened. All those friends who proudly served with Don, will forever remember all of the enjoyable times that were shared. Don truly valued the many good friendships that he made during his 26 years of loyal service in the SUPRAD community. Kathy and Don even travelled all the way from British Columbia to Ottawa to attend a SUPRAD Oldtimers Association Annual Reunion. Don valued his friends so much, that he became a proud Life Member of our Oldtimers Association. There is a Tree of Life in the entranceway of the Canadian Forces Leitrim All Ranks Mess. Because Don was a valued member of our Association, a small bronze cross will now be placed on the leaf that bears his name. Please know that as members of your extended military family, we will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.
    ‘Friends Forever’

  6. Hello…so sorry to hear of Uncle Donny’s passing. My father was Carl Harris brother to Don,Peter, Walter & Elsie. My father passed away in 2011 so I know the sorrow of loosing a parent. I always remember when Uncle Donnie & Kathie would visit, it was a celebration that all of my family got together for, with lots of stories and laughter. May he rest in peace. Wendy Stocco (Harris)

  7. Don: Death takes the body
    God takes the soul
    Our minds hold the memories
    Our heart keeps the love
    Our faith let’s us know we will meet again.

    I miss you so very much.

  8. For anyone who knew Don, please feel free to leave a comment here. Don has family and friends from all across Canada, and I know they would like to see some of the great comments that I’m getting via email.

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