Mary was born in the village of Lipovka and spent her childhood in Krasnye Polanyi, Mordovia, Russia. She enjoyed visiting Kuvakino on holiday and had many fond stories to tell of spending time there with her sister and many cousins. There were also many hardships including the removal of her non-Russian father who was sent to prison camps in Siberia.
Mary was a Second Officer in Training of a transport ship when WWII affected her. The ship was commanded to pick up stranded civilians down the Volga and transport them to safety. This began her run from the terrible war that had her in several prison camps and eventually a work camp where she was compelled into forced labour. She loved her mother, father and sister, who were separated from her for many years before they could get back in touch. Mom survived the war and had the choice of taking the train back home or staying to start a new life with the charming Alec Lewyc (Levitz). She stayed with Alec, and they had their first son Walter while living in a displacement camp in Goslar, Germany. When Walter was two, they received their immigration approval for Canada and ended up in a logging camp in Northern Alberta. The family spent time in Windsor and eventually settled in Winnipeg, where Robert and Particia were born.
Mom had a voracious appetite for reading and travel, loved figure skating and ballet, and was fluent in four languages. She had a great sense of style and loved sewing; in fact most of her clothes were either made by herself or altered to suit. She loved vegetable and flower gardening and cooking, so much so that often Sunday dinner would look more like Sunday feast, with many of her children’s friends around the table. Mary loved to tell stories of her interesting life and its observations; she loved history and was very interested in world events. She loved her home country, children and grandson most of all and missed them terribly when she couldn’t be with them.
Mary leaves behind her daughter Pat (Michael), son Robert (Mila), her grandson Thomas and his mother Eileen. She is predeceased by her beloved son Walter and husband Oleksa (Alec). She leaves behind a great many family members in Russia who she enjoyed keeping in touch with by video; thank you very much to Tanya Eliseev, Alosha Eliseev, Vova Mikheev, Vitalya Mikheev, Ira Mikheeva, Sveta Mikheeva, Fedya Mikheev, Natasha Mikheeva, and Lyudmila Mikheeva for all the love and well wishes you shared.
Thank you to Misericordia Place for looking out for mom during her time there. Many thanks to the amazing staff of Prime at Deer Lodge Centre who took excellent care of mom and provided kind and gentle guidance to all of us. Special thank you to Michael who made mom’s last years extra special. Also to Bonnie, Al, Shannon, Greg and Brett and Brianna - mom’s second family - she enjoyed decades of holidays with you and cherished them all.
A memorial celebration will be held at 11am on Saturday, February 4th at the Unitarian Universalist Church at 603 Wellington Crescent.
Click here to read in interview that Russian Winnipeg did with Mary when she was their Person of the Week.