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Obituary

JOHN KOWALSHYN (published on June 13, 2009)

JOHN KOWALSHYN Passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at Bluewater Health (Norman Site). Beloved husband of Anne (Baran). Dear father of Patricia, Nadia, Darusia and Paul Kowalyshyn, and his wife Sandi. John was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on February 19, 1929 to Nadia (1977) and Yakym (Jack) (1967) Kowalyshyn, immigrants from Volyn Oblast (province), northwestern Ukraine who were very active in establishing the Ukrainian National Federation in Winnipeg. It was only natural that John joined the Ukrainian National Youth Federation (MYHO) where he not only made life-long friends (kumy), but it was here that he met Baranka , his future wife and life-partner, Anne. He participated in (and later taught) Ukrainian folk dancing, sang under the direction of Oleksander and Tetiana Koshetz and Doctor Paul Macenko. He was an original member and pro tem co-conductor of the Ukrainian National Youth Federation Choir which, in the sixties, was renamed to honour Olexander Koshetz. John also played the mandolin, violin and trumpet. He was a self-taught musician who, in his later years, dabbled with the tenor banjo, piano and organ and was involved in the production of an album recorded by the Central Collegiate Stage Band directed by Willie Timmermans. In his youth he also played football and hockey and, as an adult he enjoyed badminton, squash and golf. As a young man in Winnipeg, John held modest jobs that included furniture salesman, shoe salesman and bartender. In the spring of 1950, he laid sandbags as a volunteer during the devastating Red River Flood that forced the evacuation of 100,000 people from their Winnipeg businesses and homes. When the family moved to Toronto in 1956, John was employed as a driving school instructor by day and bartender (Stage Door Theatre and the Royal York Hotel Showroom) at night. It was during this period that John became personally acquainted with headliners such as Ed Ames, Perry Como, Edie Gorme, Steve Lawrence and Frank Sinatra. In 1960, John moved his family to Sarnia and was the manager of the St. Clair Hotel, a bustling business owned and operated by his in-laws Evdokia and Stephan Baran. Subsequently in 1965, John and his wife Anne bought the Balmoral Hotel (now Balmoral Tavern) which he ran successfully for some 30 years. To this day, the Bal continues to be a family-run operation. John also was an instructor at Lambton College (Bartending: Cocktails and Fancy Drinks) and, with his wife Anne, owned and operated Goliger's Travel Agency in Sarnia for several years. In 1978, at the age of 49, and after 18 consecutive months of schooling, John was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Political Science by the University of Windsor (no small feat considering he had only completed his grade 11 education). John was a respected politician whose career spanned over 20 years of civic service. He was a candidate in the 1974 federal election. He was first elected to the seat of city alderman (councilor) in 1975, was re-elected and served multiple terms on both city and county council. John also sat on or chaired numerous boards including: the Sarnia Police Service Board, St. Clair Parkway Commission, Sarnia General Hospital, Sarnia Lambton Social Services, Lambton Health Unit, Business Improvement Area, Sarnia Public Works, Lambton College Board of Governors, Sarnia Parks and Recreation and the Lambton County Public Works Commission. John also founded the Sarnia Waste Reduction Committee and, as Master Composter , penned a booklet on composting. John gave tirelessly of himself through many volunteer activities in which he worked as a fundraiser for numerous local, provincial and national charities. He was also a former Rotarian. In recognition of his commitment to the community, John was named to the Mayor's Honour List in 2003. In 1997 John was the first-ever, city-elected person to become Warden of Lambton County. John's dedication to this position was so great that, following an accident in which he fractured his pelvis, rather than miss a county council meeting, he wore his chain of office and conducted the meeting in his hospital room. John's life was full of many personal accomplishments. He was extremely proud of his wife and children, but perhaps one of his proudest moments came in November 2008 when his son Paul was appointed to be a Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice. Divine Liturgy (memorial mass) for the repose of the soul of John Kowalyshyn will be celebrated on Saturday, June 13 at 11:00 a.m. at St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1045 Rosedale Avenue, Sarnia. Visitation will occur at McKENZIE BLUNDY FUNERAL HOME 431 Christina Street North on Sunday, June 14 from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. 9:00 p.m. with Panachyda (brief memorial service) at 8:00 p.m. Funeral services will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 15 at St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church. Interment will follow at Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery. As an expression of sympathy, friends may elect to send memorial donations to: St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1045 Rosedale Avenue, Sarnia, N7S 1Z5; Inn of the Good Shepherd, 115 John Street, Sarnia, N7T 2Z1; or the Kidney Foundation of Canada-Sarnia Chapter, 546 Christina Street North, Sarnia, N7T 5W6. Messages of condolence and memories may be left at www.mckenzieblundy.com A tree will be planted in memory of John Kowalyshyn in the McKenzie and Blundy Memorial Forest. Dedication service Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. at the Wawanosh Wetlands Conservation Area.


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