September 26, 1919 – January 26, 2019
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of one of Grindrod’s pioneers. Mary Strilchuk (nee Karpowich) passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 26 at the North Okanagan Hospice in Vernon at the age of 99 – and 4 months, as she would add.
Mary was born in Drumheller, Alberta on September 26, 1919, to Pauline and Frank Karpowich. At the age of 3 1/2, the family moved to Grindrod, BC and settled on a small farm at the east end of Old Sicamous Road. Mary attended school in Grindrod until Grade 8.
As a teenager Mary worked as a housekeeper and later got a job picking berries in Salmon Arm and packing apples in Oyama. In 1940 Mary married Julian, a handsome fellow from Saskatchewan. Together they bought acreage on Old Sicamous Road and built their home and farm. The farm was just down the road from where she was raised.
Mary was able to maintain the farm during the difficult war years while Julian was away in the army. Friends and family would give her a hand if help was needed. They had 3 children Leonard, Elvin and Frances and they all helped with the farm work.
In their retirement years, Mary and Julian travelled across Canada visiting family and friends along the way. They loved playing crib and regularly attended the Seniors’ luncheons in Enderby.
“Aunty” Mary or Mother of Grindrod, as she was known, loved gardening and was known for her ability to grow vegetables that would feed her family and friends in the neighbourhood. She was also known for making tasty buns and the best dill pickles in town. If you stopped by, you had to stay for tea and sample some of her jam-jams and gingersnap cookies. With her sharp mind, she could tell you about events from the past, names, dates, who married who and how they were all related.
Mary was proud to say that she helped 4 generations of the Hawrys families. At the age of 93, the farm became too difficult for her to manage so Mary made her first big move out of Grindrod. The move took her to Carrington’s assisted living in Vernon.
Mary was predeceased by her husband Julian (2006), her brothers Stan and Barney(Karpowich), her sisters Elizabeth (Shafirka), Angela (Becking) and Amelia (Maksymchuk). She is survived by her children Leonard (Carolynn), Elvin (Marilyn) and Frances Mitchell. Mary also leaves behind 6 grandchildren, 2 step-grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren, 6 step great grandchildren 3 sister-in-laws and many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank all her faithful family and friends for all the fun times over her 99 years. Thank you to the staff at Carrington for making her time there an enjoyable experience. Thank you to the staff at Vernon Jubilee Hospital and the North Okanagan Hospice for the loving care you gave Mary during her stay there.
A Memorial will be held later in the year when the weather is better for distant travelers.
In lieu of flowers please make donations to the North Okanagan Hospice.