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Mass Funeral Friday for Natal Victims Other Rites Separate (15 MINERS DIE in 1967 mining explosion)- The Free Press Turns 115 years Old

April 6 1967

Free Press Files

Joint funerals will be held on Friday in Natal for the seven Natal-Michel-Sparwood miners who died in Monday’s Balmer North Mine blasts Funerals of the five Fernie men and three from Coleman are arranged to take place separately.

Services with ministers representing the several churches involved, will be held at St. Michael’s Church  and the seven coffins will be carried to their graves at Natal Cemetery.

Here are the seven victims :

Guy Venzi, 58 was working overtime when he was killed. The Italian native came to Canada in 1912 and lived in Natal area since, except for his service in the Canadian Army. He was discharged a sergeant. A member of the Royal Canadian Legion Michel Branch, He was a member of the RAOB, a keen outdoorsman and a curler. He leaves his wife, Agnus, a brother Fred, and a sister Mrs. Sarah Borsato. He supported the United Church.

With Venzi, also working overtime was Delfie Quarrin 37 of Natal, whose wife is a niece of Archie Wotjula, one of the other dead. He had two children, Ricky 10, and Carolyn 6.

August (Archie) Wotjula 44, was born in Hillcrest, but spent 20 years in Natal area. Member of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church, he was a former Kinsmen president and Rod and Gun member. Son of miner killed in Hillcrest in 1930, he is survived by his wife, Olga sons Bill 17, Ricky 4 and daughter Lori, 13. He also had a brother Emil Joe, and three sisters, Mrs Frank Lipovski of Natal, Mrs Caroline Petrie, widow of miner killed at Hillcrest in 1939 and Mrs. Pauline Groeing of Coleman.

WIlliam Cytko was born in Poland 41 years ago, in Canda since 1930. He lived first in Coleman, moving to Michel in 1950 and to Sparwood four years ago. He leaves his mother , Mrs Doris Wolsuk of Vancouver, wife Lucy and five children, Mrs Sharon Fraser of Natal, Mary Anne , 17 William Jr. 16, Joanne 14 and John 13. He supported the Greek Orthodox Church.

Sam Tolley, veteran miner, a former trapper and hunter was born in Fernie 53 years ago. A United Church member, he spent 27 years in Natal area and survived by his wife, Susan, three daughters Mrs. Shirley Barclay of Pincher Creek, Mrs. Marjorie Halko Jr. of Natal and Wendy 9, plus several brothers and sisters.

Eugene Lucky, Natal band leader, married only a few years was 27 a member of the Knights of Columbus, of St. Michael’s Church. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn and a son, three months old.

Details about veteran minor Tony Cepelianskes, who was just a year short of retirement age could not be obtained at press time. He was 64 and lived with his wife at Natal.

For more great stories that ran in The Free Press in the past 115 years http://issuu.com/thefreepress/docs/115_the_free_press/1

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