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JAN KAMIENSKI (published on April 17, 2010)

JAN KAMIENSKI On March 26, 2010, at the age of 86, Jan Jakob Kamienski peacefully took leave of his long, eventful, and productive life, at the Maples Personal Care Home in Winnipeg with his wife, Nadya, at his side. Born May 9, 1923 in Poznan, Poland, Jan was the only child of musicology professor and composer Lucjan Kamienski and lyric soprano Linda Kamienska (née Harder). With the outbreak of the Second World War, life as the family had known it came to an abrupt end, and harrowing years followed. Jan was recruited by the Polish Resistance in 1939, trained in Poland which was under Nazi occupation, and sent to Dresden as an underground agent in 1941. The end of the war found him still in Dresden, now under Soviet occupation, where he studied art until immigrating to Canada in 1949. Settling in Winnipeg, he worked as a commercial artist before joining the Winnipeg Tribune in 1958. As editorial cartoonist, columnist, art critic and sometimes even restaurant reviewer, he brought to his work his wide-ranging knowledge of history and politics, a deep humanism profoundly shaped by his wartime experiences, and a healthy sense of the ridiculous, as he skewered - sometimes gently, sometimes a little less gently - the high and mighty in particular and human frailty in general. Jan loved the prairies and took keen delight in discovering Manitoba and Saskatchewan - with their flatlands, huge skies and billowing clouds, gentle rolling hills - and the severe topography of the Canadian Shield. He enjoyed boating on the Red River and Lake Winnipeg's South and North Basins, fascinated by this huge body of water in the middle of the prairies. His love of Western Canada's landscapes is vividly expressed in many of his paintings. Travelling abroad also gave him great pleasure, and his impressions and observations invariably found their expression in not only paintings but also features published in the Tribune. Sophisticated and knowledgeable as he was, Jan was also a kind and gentle man who had a deep and profound love of all Nature. Friends knew him as an entertaining conversationalist, attentive listener, and brilliant raconteur. He loved to read, and his extensive library of books in Polish, German, English, and Russian provided him with countless hours of enjoyment. He was a prolific writer; not a day went by without time spent at his beloved portable manual typewriter, and he was still writing page pieces for Czas, a Polish-language weekly, well into his eighties. Jan also engaged in lively correspondence with friends in Europe and Canada, and it was not unusual for letters of ten or more single-spaced pages to be exchanged. Even with the advent of e-mail, he preferred to correspond with friends and family by snail mail. Jan had enduring and lifelong friendships with both men and women and placed a high value on their time together. He particularly loved dinner parties, good food and drink. He knew a great deal about food, and it was not unusual to find him in the kitchen, lending a hand by doctoring up the seasoning, making the salad, or whatever was required. Jan was a delight to cook for, as he always plied the chef with enthusiastic compliments, and it was not uncommon for him to express this appreciation by taking a second or even third helping. Jan's love of the arts extended to all forms, and he derived equal enjoyment from attending symphony concerts, theatre productions, and ballet performances whenever he could. Of special interest to him, of course, were the visual arts, and his idea of a perfect and rejuvenating afternoon was one spent roaming the exhibits at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. At home, he listened to music during most of his waking hours - primarily classical, but also jazz, blues, and soul. Jan took pride in being a member of the working press, and his membership in the Winnipeg Press Club was a large and important part of his life; he served terms as the club's president and as its secretary, treasurer and was eventually made a Life Member. Every year, Jan worked with immense enthusiasm on the Beer and Skits extravaganza, writing and directing skits, designing mugs and yearbooks, as well as designing and painting sets. His reminiscences of the shows and the parties afterward are legend. After the abrupt demise of the Tribune on August 27, 1980, he was the editorial cartoonist for the Winnipeg Sun until his retirement in 1988. But for Jan, retirement meant not a time to rest on his laurels but rather a chance to devote himself fully to exploring new avenues of artistic expression. With his high intellect, intense curiosity and ever-present wit, he moved with ease from one style to another, painting and drawing in an incredible outpouring of creative energy. When his failing eyesight finally made painting difficult, he turned his focus to writing his memoir of the Second World War, Hidden in the Enemy's Sight: Resisting the Third Reich from Within, which was published in late 2008. His writings, cartoons and paintings can be found in archives, institutions, churches, galleries and private collections throughout Canada, the U.S., and Europe. Jan will be deeply missed by wife Nadya, daughters Barbara and Michelle, grandchildren Alyssa and Peter, son-in-law Michael, brother-in-law Leonard and his wife Marilyn as well as many friends and neighbours. The family wishes to thank the caring and gentle staff at Riverview Health Centre and especially Maples Personal Care Home, who looked after Jan in his last nine months with us. We are also thankful to everyone who has expressed their condolences in this time of sorrow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Winnipeg Humane Society, 45 Hurst Way, Winnipeg, MB R3T 0R3 or Salvation Army, 203 - 290 Vaughn Street, Winnipeg, MB R3B 2N8. Jan's life will be celebrated at a Gathering at Neil Bardal Inc., 3030 Notre Dame Ave. (across from Brookside Cemetery) on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. NEIL BARDAL INC. 204-949-2200

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