Surrounded by love, Lillian (Ludwinka Fedorowich) Balak, beloved mother and grandmother passed away peacefully on September 15, 2023 at the age of 99.
Left to cherish her memory are her son Greg Balak (Ann), daughter Bernadette Balak-Paul (John) and grandchildren Rachel Wilkins (Shane), Michael Balak and Josh Balak. She will also be lovingly remembered by family and friends.
Mom was predeceased by her devoted husband of 72 years, Michael (Mike); her parents, John and Theodora; and her siblings Mary, Nellie, Paul, Katherine and Tekla.
Mom was born June 30, 1924 in Mink Creek, Manitoba and was the youngest of her siblings. She received her education at both Borshaw School and Ethelbert School. She also took a Home Economics course in Sifton, MB. In her single days, she worked in Winnipeg at a sewing factory sewing pockets and then more complicated piecework.
As the story goes, Mom and Dad first saw each other walking in a procession at a Praznik in Venlaw. Years later they again became reacquainted and after a short courtship were married in Ethelbert on June 3, 1950. Side by side, they built their life in a mixed farming operation in Zoria, Manitoba until Dad’s health would no longer allow them to continue. Following retirement they moved to Dauphin, Manitoba. Mom was an amazing gardener and filled the cold room with an assortment of pickles, jams and jellies. The well stocked cold room also has goodies including wild berry jams, like kalyna, and mushrooms that were seasonally gathered and preserved. She also had a tremendous love of flowers and plants which filled both her home and yard. Even late in to her 80’s, she would lovingly hand water and tend to her beautiful blooms.
Mom set the bar pretty high when it came to cooking and baking. She made amazing breads including ritual breads like kolach, babka and paska. She also for a time, used to make communion bread for church. A point to debate would be which came first, Dad’s sweet tooth or Mom’s skill as a baker. Her culinary skills went hand in hand with her love of entertaining, particularly during the holidays. Frankly though, when you think of her sweet treats, we all simply think donuts.
Mom was an avid crafter and seamstress. She would make many of the clothes the family wore. She was also an upcycler, when it was done from necessity not as a trend and made many quilts out of old dresses and fabric remnants. She also enjoyed needlework and crochet, making many finely detailed pillows and doilies.
Mom was deeply devoted to her faith. She was an active parishioner both on the farm and in town. She was cantor both at the church in Zoria and on Valley River farm. When Mom was preparing to cantor at Sunday mass, she would start practicing on Friday, picking the songs and rehearsing the lyrics and melody. Mom participated in various ministries including the UCWL and Apostleship of Prayer. She and Dad were dedicated to praying the rosary.
In general Mom loved music and singing particularly faith-based, Ukrainian and “Old Time” songs. It was pretty common for her to break into song on a road trip or while making pierogies. When Mom was losing her ability to communicate, she would still sing. Many Face Time calls involved Mom singing “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You”.
Mom and Dad both enjoyed travel, having made a trip abroad to Europe as part of a Catholic Tour group, by visiting various destinations in the US and Canada, and through bi-yearly trips out to visit the children and grandchildren.
Mom was very proud of her culture and every year Mom and Dad attended Dauphin’s National Ukrainian Festival. When they retired, they were able to give back by volunteering at the Donation Bowl.
I asked her once what was most important to her and she said God and family. Mom’s devoutness to her faith radiated from her and her actions followed suit. These values contributed to making her the most kind and caring woman, always putting others needs before her own. Most notably her extended care of her own mother and husband and of course the love she gave her children and grandchildren. She was also determined, resourceful, creative, welcoming, and funny. She loved her children and grandchildren and actively followed their accomplishments. She showed her love through her example, care packages, handcrafted quilts and always remembering us in prayers.
Thank you to all the staff at St. Paul’s Nursing Home who cared for Mom. A special thank you to Stephanie Hadway whose helping hand and caring ways were nothing short of godsent.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Dauphin, MB.
Funeral Service was held on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 at 10:30 am from Sneath-Strilchuk Family Care Centre in Dauphin, MB with Very Rev Father Oleg Bodnarski officiating.
The service was live streamed for those unable to attend. Click on the link below.
Interment followed in Riverside Cemetery in Dauphin, MB. Pallbearers were Terry Cholka, Brian Kostur, Richard Kostur, Patrick McEvoy, Bill Kondra, Greg Balak.
Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection
801 Jackson St., Dauphin MB R7N 2N3