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Wesley, Lazarus “Ta-Daa” (Grandfather)

Ta-Daa (Grandfather) died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 91 years, and joined his wife Lily in Heaven on January 15, 2008, the date of their 66th wedding anniversary.

Lazarus Wesley was born on February 10, 1916 in Morley, AB on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, to the late Mary and Moses Wesley. A direct descendent of Chiefs, spiritual leaders and medicinal healers, Lazarus was taught the traditional way of life of his ancestors.

Lazarus was educated at the Morley Residential School where he became fluent in English as a second language to his Nakoda mother tongue. Through the years Lazarus held a range of employment positions. He possessed extensive ranching expertise and worked on the Bar U and OH ranches. He was a skilled hunter and trapper, as well as an expert horseman. Involved for many years in rodeo, Lazarus specialized in the saddle-bronc-riding event and won numerous championship buckles.

On January 15, 1942, Lazarus married Lily Wildman at the Morley United Church. In the 1950s they attended Bible schools in Big River and LaRonge, SK. There Lazarus also learned to be an electrician, demolitions expert and big-lake fisherman. During the 1960s, Lazarus and Lily were Ambassadors for World Peace with the Moral Rearmament Association and travelled internationally on its behalf. In the late 1960s they lived in Espanola, New Mexico and translated the Book of Mark into the Nakoda language for Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Lazarus became an ordained lay Minister for the United Church in 1970. For the rest of his life, he faithfully served the Church on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation at worship services, weddings, baptisms, hospital visits, wakes, and funerals. In the late 1970s, Lazarus was Cultural Director for the renowned Stoney Wilderness Centre. Associated with Alberta Tourism, he promoted the Wilderness Centre in Europe and in the United States.

Lazarus had a unique ability to bridge two cultures. He was a Keeper of the Language and Legends and a Protector of various clan songs. He participated in pow-wows and Aboriginal spiritual ceremonies. Lazarus accumulated a vast knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs for natural healing.

As a respected Stoney Nakoda Elder, Lazarus was frequently called upon to speak with the youth to counsel and encourage them through their formative years. He was a founding Board member of the Tsuu T’ina Nation/Stoney Corrections Society.

Lazarus is survived by and will be dearly missed by his children Una, Virginia, Pauline (George), Lenny (Corrina), Claude (Irene), Peter (Donna), Russell (Wendy), Reatha, Victoria, Laurel (Tracey); adopted children, Lena Gallup, Clara Rollinmud, Jarvis Simeon, and Cameron Alexis; sister Nora Stevens, brother-in-law Bert Wildman; sister-in-law Tina Holloway; thirty-three grandchildren fifty-one great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and numerous extended family members and friends.

Lazarus was predeceased by his wife Lily on October 21, 2007, children Angus, Pauline and Evangeline, parents Mary and Moses, brothers Tom, Peter, Paul, Guy and Isaiah, sisters Bella and Caroline, brothers-in-law Frank Powderface and John Stevens, sister-in-law Alma Simeon, sons-in-law Roderick Mark and Don Rider, daughter-in-law Corrine.

Wake Services will be held at the residence of Lenny Wesley in Morley, AB today, January 19 and Sunday, January 20, 2008. Funeral Services will be held at the Morley Gymnasium in Morley, AB on Monday, January 21, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. Graveside Service to follow at Chiniki Cemetery in Morley, AB. Forward condolences through

In living memory of Lazarus Wesley, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Cochrane Funeral Home, 369 RAILWAY STREET, COCHRANE. Telephone: (403) 932-4740.

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  1. Margaret Waldie :

    Lazarus Wesley came to the historical United church when I was the caretaker who would stay at the site on the weekends. He burst into the church, midway through the service, in full praise, poetry and song while in traditional Nakota dress. As a young woman from Vancouver who had spent little time in the country, or with native folks, my memory was forever etched with the vision of Lazarus Wesley singing praises to our Lord. I have remained deeply impressed with the spirituality, and strength of character of Mr. Wesley. His cultural expression was truly uplifting.

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