The eldest son of Rev. Harry Lehotsky said Saturday night the community works that his father founded will continue, albeit without the resilient man who created them.
University of Manitoba student Matthew Lehotsky, 21, said he grew up watching his father talk on television news about issues ranging from street prostitution to shabby inner-city housing — but that seemed normal to him.
“He pretty much called a spade a spade. He didn’t really beat around the bush on a lot of stuff,” Matthew said. “If he saw something he thought was wrong, he would let you know about it.”
Matthew said that although his father’s much-publicized work in the community garnered lots of attention, he always said his ultimate devotion was to his family.
“My dad always said his family was his biggest accomplishment. He held us in high value. He always took the time to be there for us if we needed it.”
Harry Lehotsky was noted for his aggressive approach to reclaiming the city’s core area, including a neighbourhood campaign he spearheaded in 2002 in which local residents could post online the licence plate numbers of johns prowling for sex. Nearly four years later, Winnipeg police launched their own website, which carried images of vehicles involved in the West End sex trade.
“I don’t really know that we really had a good grasp of just how well he was known until we started getting a little older,” Matthew said.
In 2004, Lehotsky handed out hundreds of flyers publicizing that city council candidate Ken Wong was a downtown massage parlour’s landlord. Lehotsky himself campaigned for a legislature seat as a Tory in the 1999 provincial election, but lost.
Matthew said he and his 19-year-old twin brothers, Jared and Brandon, still live with their mother Virginia in the family’s West End home and are involved in New Life Ministries. One of his brothers works part-time at the Ellice Cafe and Theatre.