Just days before the start of this year’s PNE Fair, an iconic legend has passed away.
Bill Konyk, known across the Canadian fair industry as Hunky Bill, passed away peacefully Tuesday night, surrounded by his family.
He was 88.
“Hunky Bill was a beloved member of the extended PNE family for 52 years, beginning, as the legend has it, when the then Vancouver based radio executive bet a friend $10 that he could get a booth at the PNE to sell his homemade Ukrainian style perogy’s,” said the PNE Fair in a news release. “The story goes that Bill showed up at the PNE administration office and spent an hour and a half convincing the then head of the PNE booth sales department to give him a chance. Konyk got his booth, won his $10 and began a 52-year journey during which time Hunky Bill has become one of the most iconic pitchmen and restaurateurs in Canadian history.”
Hunky Bill’s has always been a family operated business spanning three generations. Bill’s loving wife Kay and three sons Bill Jr., Clayton, and Mark will continue on the tradition of serving the best Ukrainian food in the city.
“Hunky Bill will be incredibly missed by his many friends and family across Canada, including all those in his PNE Fair family,” said the release.
In 2016, the Optimist spoke to Hunky Bill as he was preparing to mark their 50th anniversary at the PNE.
“The PNE has been great. I want to thank them for letting me in for all these years. I would hate to see anything happen to it. For what it is, it will stand on its own for any event in Canada,” he said.
Konyk was born and raised in Winnipeg. He moved to Vancouver with his wife and children in 1966 to join CJOR radio station.
Konyk and his wife moved from Richmond to Ladner in 2013. They immediately fell in love with the community and its people.
“It's been an amazing experience, that's for sure,” said Konyk. “So many memories. It's the people - the people that I have met that support me and we support them.”