We are saddened to announce the passing of Gary Frank Marin Annau on August 26, 2023, after a brief and heroic battle with cancer. Gary died peacefully while surrounded by family and under excellent care at Wind River Hospice in Whitehorse. He leaves behind a huge hole in the hearts of his family and friends, who will miss his storytelling, sharp wit and larger than life personality.
Gary was born in Carrot River, Saskatchewan on October 2, 1945, to Frank and Marie Annau. After his father’s work as an engineer took the family north from Saskatchewan, Gary spent most of his formative years and early adulthood in Churchill, Manitoba, where he developed his love of the North and his adventurous spirit. He graduated high school there and later attended college in Winnipeg, spending a summer working as a deckhand on a tug on Hudson Bay. This was where he first realized his affinity for spending time out on the water. He returned to Churchill after college and married his first wife, Karen.
Always a savvy entrepreneur and not one to suffer bureaucracy, Gary took what he learned in college and an early job in government and opened a successful auto body shop in Churchill. Friends from that time will remember it as a weekend hangout spot for beers and b.s. - not surprising to anyone that Gary was forever the gracious host!
Eventually, adventure called and brought Gary and Karen to the Yukon in 1968. His eldest son, Ryan, was born in Whitehorse in 1971. At that time, Whitehorse was booming and full of opportunity and vibrant people, yet still had enough snow for the winter activities Gary loved. It was here he established his career in real estate, home building and mobile home sales. He also contributed to the community’s development in many ways, including stints on both the City Planning Board and Variance Board in the late 70's. More recently, Gary was a board member for WCB, continuing until he retired in 2015. He was involved in Rotary for years, and could be found cooking at the pancake breakfasts and selling tickets for every fundraiser held.
Gary got together with his wife Lana in 1982 and spent the next 41 years building a full and beautiful life. They had son Frank in 1987, and the faithful family dogs Georgie and Betsy kept their home filled with joyful energy.
In early years, summer activities included time at their cabin at Tagish. Many family boat trips were taken down Tagish, which always included fishing as the main event. Eventually the ocean called and Gary and Lana had a berth in Skagway for 38 years. Trips were taken every year to Hoonah for halibut, or cruising trips to various locations down the inside passage (often involving a squall or two).
An avid outdoorsman with a mind for all things mechanical, Gary could be found on short and long-range winter snowmobile trips each week with his snowmobile buddies. Regardless of the temperature, he’d start calling Monday morning, saying, “Hey, the weather looks good, where do you want to go?” There will never be full disclosure about the adventures on these trips but it’s unlikely the wives need to know.
A favourite family holiday was Easter. Saturday would be spent at the Summit, with the kids and grandkids snowmobiling and sledding, and Sunday would be an Easter Egg hunt at the Park in Skagway (where the snow had usually melted) and then brunch on the boat. Gary loved having his family around him, having fun and participating in the activities he cherished.
Gary is pre-deceased by his parents, Frank and Marie, and is survived by his wife Lana, sons Ryan (Tamara) and Frank (Rita), grandchildren Maddy and Riston, his siblings Priscilla (Gary), Marilynn (Dwight) and Rick (Susan) and siblings in law Bob (Anne), Jo-Ann (Jim), Mike (Sandra) and Brenda (Nick) and many beloved nieces and nephews.
A celebration for family and friends will be planned at a later date. Expressions of sympathy may be made in any way you wish, including donations in Gary’s name to Hospice Yukon.
The family would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Kmet, Dr. Avery, Dr. Storey and Dr. Tadepalli for their care and compassion. Also to the wonderful nurses and staff at Wind River and WGH, and our extended family and good friends who have supported us through these difficult months.
Gary is part of the fabric of Whitehorse and will be missed. Remember in the long run it is not the years in your life but the life in your years that count.
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