Peter Basilius Lewynsky

February 12, 1919 – December 11, 2013

Peter passed away peacefully on December 11, 2013 in his 95th year at Gateby Care Centre, Vernon, B.C.

He was pre-deceased by his wife Ruth (2007), daughter in-law Anne Lewynsky (1998) and four siblings in Ukraine (Theodore, Olana, Maria, Trochim). He is survived by his daughter Eva Hambley (Knox) and son Vic Lewynsky; five grandchildren [Jamie Skinner (Tracy), Brian Skinner (Melanie), Christine Batcheller (Devin), Erika Lewynsky, Martin Lewynsky)]; and five great-grandchildren (Alexander, Aimee, Aiden, McKinley, Shelby).

Peter had a diverse and challenging, but fulfilling life. Born Feb 12, 1919 in Molotkiw, Ukraine his early childhood was difficult with malnutrition and scurvy associated with Soviet occupation and forced communism. He fled Ukraine during WWII and was interned in Hungarian prisons en-route to a temporary state for Ukrainian exiles in Czechoslovakia. In 1945 he again fled ahead of the Russian Army ending up in Germany at war’s end. There he met his liebchen Ruth Stuckrath and evaded the Slavic roundup and hand-over to Joseph Stalin. As a non-German the US Army employed him in one of their Officer training camps where he learned about the freedom and opportunities in the USA and Canada. These experiences resulted in Peter being literate in Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, German and English.

Peter and Ruth were married in 1946 in Eschewege, West Germany and had two children, Eva-Marie and Viktor, prior to immigrating to Canada. The family arrived in Vernon in 1953. Naturally they fell in love with the Okanagan Valley; residing in Vernon ever since.

Peter was a grateful and proud Canadian and ensured he and his family obtained their Citizenship immediately on the five-year qualification period (1958). He was also proud of his Ukrainian heritage and longed for the country’s freedom. The collapse of the Soviet Union was a special moment in his life and, like other East Europeans, credited Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher for this most recent demise of Ukraine’s direct occupation.

Peter worked at numerous jobs to support his family and to fulfill his dream of building a beekeeping business. He reached his goal in 1963 when he established Silver Star Apiaries and the Busy Bees honey brand. He also branched out in Queen Bee research and rearing – importing special strains from Adams Brothers at Buckfast Monastery England and Anatolia, Turkey. These were well-suited to the Okanagan among other regions and progeny were sold into the USA and throughout Canada. As the business grew he was joined full time by Ruth – a true family business. They sold their enterprise and retired in 1984.

His other passion was music. He had a natural musical ear and could pick up virtually any instrument and play the tune simply by listening to songs. He created two dance bands; one in his teens with friends and the second with his family. Peter regularly entertained residents at Noric House Senior’s Home throughout his 80’s (affectionately known as Peter’s “One-Man Band”).

Many will know Peter as a healthy, fit, energetic and hard-working man with a big, generous heart. He will be sadly missed, but his spirit endures.

Peter received superb support and caring from Dr. Francis Healey and the loving staff at Gateby Care Centre.

A Funeral Service celebrating his life will be held at Bethel Funeral Chapel on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 1:00 P.M. led by The Very Reverend Archpriest Isadore Woronchak of the Vernon/Kelowna Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Interment will follow in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery. The family invites friends to a Reception that will take place in the Bethel Tea Room at the conclusion of the Graveside Service.

Funeral arrangements have been made with


5605-27th Street, Vernon, B.C. V1T 8Z5


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