Nick Morsky became such a big part of the business community, and Estevan as a whole, that the Estevan Chamber of Commerce named its Business Hall of Fame after him and his wife Verna.
Since 2011, local business leaders have been inducted into the Nick and Verna Morsky Business Hall of Fame. Eight business leaders have been enshrined, including the Morsky family.
Nick Morsky died earlier this month, leaving behind a legacy of business leadership. He spent more than 62 years in Estevan, with his business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit being rewarded with success.
“But more than that, Nick brought a generosity of spirit, a love of people from all walks of life and a curiosity to learn all he could from the people he talked to in his day-to-day business life,” his family wrote in a press release. “Many of the enterprises he undertook benefited from this love of interacting with the public.”
Nick and Verna Morsky, and their two young children, moved to Estevan in 1956, relocating from a small farming community in northern Manitoba. His first opportunity was to lease and manage the BA gas station and restaurant, located on Fourth Street, where Girard Bulk Service's Petro Canada site is now located.
In 1958, an opportunity knocked for the young family and they built The Prairie Breeze Motel east of the city. They soon added gas pumps. A year later, Prairie Breeze Building Supplies was built next door, selling paint and building materials, followed by the addition of a redi-mix concrete business. With an ever-growing city, Nick Morsky built several homes, and during the summers, built and delivered hundreds of wooden grain bins while meeting and talking to almost every farmer in this corner of the province.
Over the years, he constructed many apartment buildings and together the family operated 125 apartment units for almost 40 years. But the biggest construction project was to come.
In 1965, the Derrick Motor Hotel was built and owned by several shareholders including the Morskys. After a couple of years, he took over the management duties and over time, bought out all the shareholders to become the sole owner. The family successfully operated the hotel for over 40 years.
“Everyone who knows Estevan has a story about the Derrick,” the family stated. “Whether it was attending a convention, a banquet, a wedding dance, a meeting, enjoying entertainment in the lounge or it being a home-away-from-home for a work week or weekend for a hockey tournament, everyone recalls receiving the same personal service from Nick and Verna who worked long hours in every capacity of the business.”
Other businesses in Estevan over the years that he was involved with were selling campers and mobile homes from the Derrick parking lot, a free standing restaurant named Mom’s, running a downtown hotel, being a partner with Don Mortenson in a tire shop, being a partner with Teg Bilku in a machine shop, and obtaining the first Toyota dealership in southern Saskatchewan in the 70s with Ken Geisel.
“And while doing all of this, he was always community minded. He served on city council for a term," the family said. "He was a member of the chamber of commerce as well as the Lions Club of Estevan for more than 50 years. And up until a few years ago he could still be seen every spring picking trash along Highway 39 West, participating in one of the Lions' community service projects.”
The couple became lifetime supporters of the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum, backed the construction of St. Joseph’s Hospital and supported the healthcare auxiliary, contributed to the construction of the Souris Valley Aquatic and Leisure Centre, and donated to many more community projects. He was a charter member of Ducks Unlimited and a member of the Estevan Elks Lodge for over 50 years.
“Generosity was a key part of Nick’s character. In the early years building supplies were donated for community construction projects. Later cash donations as well as donations in kind included the use of Derrick meetings rooms, the use of the hotel’s basement banquet rooms to organizations hosting cabarets to raise funds, and many, many discounted meals for other fundraising groups.”
They had many adventures travelling the globe, and they visited all seven continents.
The City of Estevan named Morsky Drive in Dominion Heights, just off of Highway 47 North, after the family. He would take all his visitors to Morsky Drive to show off the road.
Nick and Verna raised three children in Estevan: Rand, Darlene and Pam. They also had 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Jan. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church.