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Learning tour participants, Wilf Unrau, Harry Dyck and Dave Hiebert at the Dnepropetrovsk airport when they arrived in Ukraine, May 25. WILF UNRAU

Learning tour participants, Wilf Unrau, Harry Dyck and Dave Hiebert at the Dnepropetrovsk airport when they arrived in Ukraine, May 25. WILF UNRAU

Strong MCC supporter dies on learning tour to Ukraine

June 5, 2008

WINNIPEG, MAN—A Manitoba businessman and strong supporter of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) projects was on a MCC learning tour in Ukraine when he died unexpectedly, Sunday, June 1.

Harry Dyck, a partner and manager of Winkler Meats, was part of an eight-member group that was in Ukraine visiting MCC partner organizations who receive shipments of MCC material resources, including canned meat, blankets, relief kits, school kits and other MCC assistance.

The tour was hosted by the MCC team based in Zaporozhye, Ukraine— MCC representative Ionka Hristozova, administrative assistant Stella Toews and material resources worker Artem Dolya.

On Sunday morning the learning tour participants and MCC workers had participated in a church service and took communion together with local partners from the Baptist church in Yalta, Crimea. The group was spending the afternoon at the Black Sea.

Tour group leader, Wilf Unrau, a close personal friend of the family and manager of MCC Canada’s warehouse in Plum Coulee, Manitoba, said Dyck was the first one to go into the water. “He said the water is lovely—this is a real dream come true.”

When the group noticed that Dyck was floating in the water face down he was quickly brought to the shore and immediately received CPR. The results of the autopsy performed in the Levadia hospital in Yalta were released on Tuesday, June 3. Heart attack was certified as the cause of death. He was 65 years old.

Dyck is well known in Manitoba for bringing the MCC mobile meat canner to the province and allowing hundreds of volunteers to take over the meat processing facility for one week once a year to process 22,500 cans of meat for distribution in Ukraine and many other countries..

“His contributions to meat canning are amazing,” said Unrau. “Harry is one of those guys who believe that somehow we can make things work.”

This was Dyck’s first trip to Ukraine and he will be remembered for his keen interest in learning more about the Good Shepherd Shelter in Makeyevka, a church ministry supported by MCC. Dyck had also enjoyed visiting the families who had received loans from loan funds sponsored by MCC and administered by local churches.

Dyck will also be remembered for his active participation in promoting MCC’s water and agricultural projects in Kenya. “He was my right hand man,” said Unrau, recalling that Dyck had been part of MCC’s work and learning tours to Kenya that took place in January 2006, 2007 and 2008 when participants worked with villagers to build sand dams for villages and water tanks for schools.

Learning tour participants, primarily MCC material resources staff from Canada and United States, returned June 5 as scheduled.

Harry Dyck’s funeral takes place June 9 at the Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church.