July 22, 1940 – November 23, 2018
Mary passed away peacefully at Vernon Hospice House after her courageous battle with cancer. She is preceded by her parents John and Matilda Kowalchuk, her daughter Angela Catherine, sister Elsie Culos, sons Doug, Rodney and Brady and most recently her beloved husband Lyle.
Mary is survived by her two sons Jason and Devon (Kim), brother Alex Kowalchuk (Audrey), sisters Alice Williston (Reg) and Rose Sexsmith. She is also survived by her brothers-in-law Harold and Wayne Hickson, sister in law Muriel Hickson (Ev) and will be especially missed by a very special sister-in-law and best friend Irene Hickson. Mary will always be remembered as a very special person in the heart of her niece Denise Robertson. In the close family she fostered she will be missed by her eleven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, numerous cousins, nephews and nieces, as well as long-time friends and neighbors.
Born in Canora Saskatchewan, her family moved to Kelowna when Mary was only a year old and she grew up in Kelowna as the youngest of the five children. From the very start she was a “feisty” young lady. She possessed an innate love of animals and as a young woman loved and owned horses and worked in a veterinary hospital. This love would see her provide a loving home for many animals over the years, including a number of special dogs; and eventually led her to breed thoroughbred horses in Armstrong.
Mary met Lyle in late 1964 when he declared she was the woman of his dreams and pursued her until they married in August of 1965 and moved to Vernon. Raising five boys was a fulltime job and the saying “shut the goddam door” became the daily phrase in her vocabulary. They moved to the farm in Armstrong in 1978 and made that their forever home, becoming a big part of the small farming community there. As they both enjoyed a good spin on the floor Mary and Lyle spent many evenings and special holidays dancing at Cedar Ridge.
Mary’s love and passion were her husband and her boys, along with a large family and many friends. She will always be remembered as a home body, always opening her home to family and friends for treasured and memorable visits. There was always lots of laughter and over the years many great stories were born, only to be shared again.
Mary had an amazing green thumb and loved being out in her yard which became known for stellar gardens and flowers – leading to many greenhouses and a farm that resembled a park in bloom all summer long.
Most importantly Mary will always be remembered as a kind and gentle heart, someone who took you at face value, who never judged you, and was always there to listen. She was like her mother in that way – something we know that touched her heart.
A very special thank you to Dr. Kira McClellan for her wonderful care of mom and of course to all of the staff and volunteers at Vernon Hospice House for their amazing care and dedication to mom and all of her family.
Funeral services will be held on Friday December 14th at 11 am at Bethel Funeral Chapel, 5605 27 Street, Vernon.
As an expression of sympathy, those who wish to do so may send donations in memory of Mary to North Okanagan Hospice Society, 2506 – 27th Avenue, Vernon BC V1T 1S4.
Bethel Funeral Chapel Ltd