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Obituary

SOPHIE BOCHONKO (published on June 26, 2010)

SOPHIE BOCHONKO Sophie Bochonko died peacefully after breakfast on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at Holy Family Home where she had lived for seven and one half years. She was born Sofia Peleszak on May 25, 1909, in Orzechowce, Przemysl, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which is now part of Poland. She was the youngest daughter in a family of 11 children, 10 daughters and one son. With a horse-drawn cart, her family evacuated their village home during the chaos of the First World War. Sophie attended half-day school for five years. She worked as a live-in babysitter for families in the city, Przemysl. Despite her minimal formal education, she had a great desire to learn and improve herself. She was bright, determined and learned quickly. She became fluent first in Ukrainian and Polish, and, later in English. In October, 1927, she married Adam Bochonko. Two months later, Sophie departed on her own for Canada and arrived in St. Johns, New Brunswick, on Christmas Eve. She proceeded immediately to Winnipeg, where she was met by a host family from her village. Her intention was to join three of her sisters who had immigrated to the eastern United States, but the process to enter the United States was much slower than to enter Canada, so she decided to immigrate to Canada and enter the United States later. The host family had found work for her on a farm in Lockport. She disliked the work, so quit and walked back to Winnipeg. She found other work more to her liking and saved her money so that she could travel to Brooklyn, New York, to join her sisters. In the spring of 1928, she entered the United States at Detroit by crossing the Detroit River from Windsor in a small boat. She was dropped off on the shore, climbed a steep bank and walked into town where, by good luck, she found someone who spoke Polish. This person guided Sophie to the railway station from whence she reached her family in New York. Adam left their village in the summer of 1928 and arrived in Halifax in July, and proceeded directly to Winnipeg. He did not want to move to the United States to be with Sophie's family, so she hurried back to north end Winnipeg where they remained for the rest of their lives. Sophie eventually thought that Winnipeg was the best place in the world to live and was a true booster. In 1930 Sophie and Adam had a son, Walter, who lives in Toronto with his wife, Joy. Sophie worked for various companies such as: Eaton's in the bakery department; The Bay; and Canada Packers in the freezer deboning meat. In the old country, she had learned how to sew and soon discovered that she could make money sewing. From time to time, she worked in various sewing factories. She also began to find customers who hired her to sew clothes in her home. She was very proud of her sewing abilities, her Singer sewing machine and the customers that she had. In 1941, a second son was born, Richard, who lives in Victoria with his wife, Helen. Sophie had the idea that she and Adam, who was a carpenter, could add to their income by buying, fixing and selling houses. So she began looking for houses and negotiated the purchase and sale of them. As a result of this, the family lived in 15 different homes in the next 15 years and over time improved their financial situation. As many other immigrants from the old country did, Sophie and Adam regularly sent care parcels back to family in their village. In the late 1940s, Sophie was hired as homemaker for a family in River Heights. She took care of their young children, arranged for family dinners and cleaned as necessary. She became a close member of the family especially for the teenage girls who confided in her and sought her advice on dating, clothes, etc. She remained in their employ for over a decade. This experience led to providing care and companionship for elderly members of several families in Winnipeg. She felt a close relationship to the families for whom she worked and was very proud of her part in their lives. Sophie's greatest pride was in her two sons and their families who she felt had accomplished so much. She cherished the family she has in many parts of the world: Ukraine, Poland, France, U.S.A. and Canada. The walls of her room in Holy Family Home were covered with pictures of family and friends highlighted by her grandchildren, Alana, Shauna, Walter Jr., Coca and Thor, and their children. She proudly showed these to everyone who ventured in. During her 101 years of life, Sophie experienced much and was interested in and aware of world events and changes in society and life styles. She had a good life. We shall remember her with love and admiration. Holy Family Home was Sophie's final home and what a good home it was. The care, companionship, and love provided by everyone at Holy Family was much appreciated by Sophie and her family. The physical environment is beautiful and Sophie showed her visitors all that she enjoyed. Thank you to all members of the Holy Family community. In keeping with Sophie's strong interest in education, her body has been contributed to the University of Manitoba for the advancement of medicine through anatomical study. A family memorial will be held at a later date when Sophie's ashes will be buried with Adam in Brookside Cemetery. Friends who wish may make a contribution in memory of Sophie to Holy Family Home at 165 Aberdeen Ave., or to the Anatomical Research Fund, Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Manitoba, or to a charity of their choice.


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