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Obituary

WALTER GRYZ (published on November 01, 2010)



WALTER GRYZ It is with heavy hearts that the family of Walter Gryz announces his death at the age of 87, on the 30th of October, 2010. He leaves behind his caring and loving wife, Zofia, of 64 years of marriage; five children - daughter Apolonia, granddaughter Monique (Blair); son Zbigniew, (Carol), granddaughters Marisa, great-grandsons Jesse and Nicholas, Anna (Kirk), great-granddaughter Ava Lily and great-grandson Isaak, Meagan, Kathryn (Dan); daughter Kristina; son Richard (Val), granddaughter Jennifer (Ryan), great-grandsons Brett, Parker and Brenden; grandson Tyler, great-grandson Ian, grandson Mike (Heather) great-granddaughter Grace; grandson Jason; and son John, (Liz), granddaughters Samantha and Leah. Born the 18th of February 1923, near Bochnia - a small village just to the southeast of Krakow, Poland - Walter was taken prisoner by the Nazis in 1939 and forced to work as a slave labourer in the Labour Camps of Germany throughout the Second World War. It was in one of those Labour Camps - converted to a Displaced Persons Camp - after the war, that he met and married Zofia Bialas. The devastation of Poland during the Second World War left little to return to, so they accepted an offer of employment, housing and transportation from the Government of Belgium to migrate there and work in the coal mines. The work was dangerous, bleak and unpromising, so, after three years, they decided to migrate to Winnipeg, Canada, in 1951. Not knowing a single word of English, nor a single soul, and having no marketable occupational skills, apart from a willingness to work hard physical labour, their new home presented them with the daunting task of carving out a safe and secure life in a totally foreign land. After some false starts - as a lumberjack, in the forests of Northern Ontario, and as a tanner - Walter found promising work with a newly formed company - Aetna Roofing - and worked there for the next 30 years. By the late 1970s it had grown into one of the largest roofing companies in Canada. But when the devastating recession of the early 1980s hit, Aetna went bankrupt, and Walter gradually moved into full retirement. The family found a welcoming and nurturing centre in St. Mary's Polish National Catholic Church. Sunday service provided a soothing emotional and spiritual relief from the hard days of weekday labour. Walter was forever grateful for the support he found there, and was always happy to give back to that community. Walter led by example, not by words, and his actions spoke volumes. He taught his children the importance of working hard, of never cutting corners, of never shortchanging anyone, of putting in a full and honest effort. He took pride in his work and worked hard to develop mastery and competence in whatever tasks he undertook; that, by example, was passed on to his children. He demonstrated a fierce determination to succeed and provide well for his family. Each day was a new day for him, a new beginning, and he attacked each day with a powerful drive, steely determination and a positive attitude. In 30 plus years of working at Aetna, Walter missed not a single day of work due to illness. This signature of his left a strong impression on all his children. At home he formed a powerful relationship with his wife, based on complete confidence and trust in his wife and partner. Zofia, despite speaking only a rudimentary English, had to negotiate the schooling system to get their children enrolled and integrated; the banking system to deposit the money earned by Walter, and ensure that the assets grew so that they could buy their first house, their first car, the furniture, and so on. She had to negotiate the medical system - Mount Carmel Clinic, the doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies - to care for her family. In all this the partnership was powerful; each negotiated a world completely foreign to them - in language and culture - but each with the full and unbending support of the other. Walter had a deep respect and love for his wife. Despite his ruptured and abbreviated formal education, Walter had a profound respect for education. Whenever time allowed, he read whatever Polish books and newspapers he could get his hands on, and was always willing to learn. In this too, he left a strong impression. Walter manifested in his daily life the old adage that you can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips . He lived a life of great courage and deep devotion. Special thanks to Apolonia who provided full-time, round-the-clock, dedicated and loving care in dad's last few months, and a special thanks to Dr. Piotr Bialy for his very professional and compassionate care. Prayers will be said on Wednesday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. with a Funeral Service on Thursday, November 4 at 10:00 a.m., both at Cropo Funeral Chapel, 1442 Main Street. Interment will follow at St. Mary's Polish National Cemetery, 360 McIvor Avenue. 586-8044


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