In 1964, after years of planning, work began on the Granduc Mine some 20 miles north of the town of Stewart in British Columbia, Canada. The mine was an ambitious project with two mining camps, one on either end of what was to be a 17 mile tunnel shaft through copper-laden rock under a glacier. The opportunity for good pay and adventure attracted men from all over to the site.
Among those who came to work at Granduc were Blake and Rod Rose, two young brothers, 21 and 23 years old respectively, who came from Vancouver against the advice of their parents.
Vilmos Fekete came too. To Vilmos, who had had to leave his wife and two children in his native Hungary when he fled political turmoil there some years earlier, the work at Granduc must have seemed like a perfect opportunity to raise some much needed money.
Tragically, on February 18, 1965, just months after the mining began and only a week after Blake and Rod Rose arrived at the portal camp, a massive avalanche poured off the surrounding hills, destroying the camp, killing 26 men and trapping others under the snow and in the still-shallow mine tunnel.
An extensive rescue operation got underway at the camp site while, in Vancouver, the Rose family waited eagerly for news of their boys’ fate and were later heartbroken to learn that both boys were among the dead. Their bodies were returned to Vancouver and are buried in the Mountain View Cemetery. The Fekete family in Hungary hadn’t known Vilmos was at the mine and had no news of the disaster. They were just left to wonder why they never heard from him again.
In 2013, while passing through Stewart on their way home from a trip to Alaska, Diane Gravlee and her husband noticed a small 116 burial cemetery. Being avid Find a Grave® contributors, they took a day, photographed the graves and added them to the site, including the grave of Vilmos Fekete.
About a year later, Diane received an email from a very excited man. It was Vilmos Fekete’s son, now a grown man with children of his own. His family had moved to the United States and one day he decided to search the internet for his father’s name. The Find a Grave memorial that Diane had created for Vilmos came up and from it he was able to learn what had happened to his father and where he was buried.
Vilmos’ son and his wife went to visit the grave and were welcomed warmly by a mounted policeman, the local priest, the mayor and other citizens of Stewart, all present to help celebrate Vilmos’ life. Diane said, “To have been a part of this happening has made all my Find a Grave work so worthwhile.”
You never know when a contribution you make to Find a Grave will provide just the information someone is looking for. Thank you to Diane and to Find a Grave volunteers everywhere who donate their time to make these kinds of discoveries possible and preserve the memory of those who have passed on.