In Memory of

Margaret-Ann

Kowalyshyn

Obituary for Margaret-Ann Kowalyshyn

Margaret-Ann Helen Kowalyshyn

June 1, 1943 - February 2, 2024



It is with profound grief that we say goodbye to Margaret-Ann: beloved mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, aunt, cousin, and loyal friend after an unexpected, brief, and devastating battle with end-stage ovarian cancer.

Margaret-Ann was born to hard-working immigrant parents of Slovenian heritage in Rossland, B.C., attending the former Cook Elementary and Rossland High School before pursuing studies in Elementary Education at the University of Victoria.  She taught grade 1 at Blewett Elementary from 1964-1969, choosing to stay at home to raise her daughter Wendy Ann with husband Adam.  She returned to substitute teaching in 1987, working primarily at South Nelson Elementary and Hume School.

Margaret-Ann met husband Adam, the love of her life, at a friend’s Hallowe’en party, but did not begin dating him until two years later, when she found herself working alongside him at the Red Mountain Ski Lodge.  The mutual attraction was still there, and they had their first date on March 5, 1959, marrying in 1964, and enjoying 57 years of marriage until Adam’s death in 2021. In 2014, Margaret-Ann and Adam celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends at a memorable dinner and dance at the Hume Hotel, planned by their daughter.

Margaret-Ann lived a life “with no regrets” as she stated to Wendy Ann before she passed.  She greatly enjoyed her life in the West Kootenays, camping from the mid 1970s to early 2000s, fishing for Kokanee and rainbow trout in the summer, ice fishing in the winter, hiking in Kokanee Glacier Park, picking huckleberries for homemade jam and pies, and cultivating an enviable flower and vegetable garden that neighbors and passersby loved to admire.  In 2014, Margaret-Ann greatly enjoyed a trip to Metlika, Slovenia, her mother’s birthplace, with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.  She was able to connect with her cultural roots, meet cousins she’d only heard about, and speak the Slovenian language she knew from childhood.

Margaret-Ann was greatly defined by her ties to community, friends, and her strong Christian faith. She was a long-time active member of the Catholic Women’s League, having received her 50-year service pin only two days before she passed away.  She was genuinely spiritual, believing wholeheartedly in the power of prayer, kindness, and care for all people, animals and living things.  She helped out Adam at the Nelson Rod and Gun Club, and with various conservation initiatives, including the restoration of Cottonwood Creek. She loved forests, nature, and plants; she said, “even the weeds are beautiful.”  Margaret-Ann enjoyed many close and long-time friendships, often speaking with friends daily.  She loved to provide a listening ear, advice, support, and uplifting conversation. Even during the worst stages of her illness, she insisted on phoning friends because she didn’t want her friends to think that she’d forgotten about them.  Her last phone call was with a childhood friend, to wish her a Happy Birthday, a day before passing away.

Margaret-Ann’s greatest love was for her family. She tirelessly looked after husband Adam during his four-year battle with cancer; she impressed nurses with some of the care tasks she learned to do.  Wendy Ann is forever grateful for her unwavering support with all endeavors in childhood and adolescence, moral support during difficult times in adulthood, and for looking after each of her grandchildren in Victoria for a five- month period, allowing Wendy to return to work.  She loved compiling photos and family memorabilia, creating an impressive chronological family history in no fewer than two dozen binders.  When she visited Wendy and family in Victoria, she was never content to sit and be pampered but instead insisted upon cleaning, tidying, and cooking – always wanting to make things easier for her family.  She concluded every phone conversation with “I love you.” Truly, her greatest challenge with her illness was sorrow in leaving her family behind. She stated this many times before passing.

Margaret-Ann showed tremendous courage and faith from the time of her end-stage cancer diagnosis on January 15 to her death in the early hours of February 2.  She never once expressed anger or bitterness, sorrowfully but steadfastly accepting God’s will for her.  Every day, she expressed gratitude for the wonderful life she’d had, her family, the beauty of the earth, and faith in being reunited with predeceased loved ones in God’s kingdom.  She also expressed gratitude to every individual who helped her during her illness, always concluding with “God Bless” to each person.  Margaret-Ann believed in kindness to everyone.  She always said, “spread love wherever you can, even if it’s simply a smile to a stranger.”

Margaret-Ann is predeceased by husband Adam, parents John and Theresa Sodja, brother John Sodja, cousin Ivan Matjasic, Aunts Emily and Annie of Butte Montana, and a bevy of much-loved cats.  She is survived by daughter Wendy Ann Burleson, son-in-law Ron, grandchildren Daniel and Hailey, niece Caroline Sodja and nephew John (Dianne) Sodja and family of Ottawa, cousin Ivan’s wife Anne Matjasic, cousins Rosemary Knight and Robert Matjasic of Calgary, cousins in the United States and in Metlika Slovenia, and her beloved cat Gabriel.

The family wishes to thank Dr. Andre Kirsten, the second and third floor nurses of Kootenay Lake District Hospital, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Home and Community Care Nurse Shannon Perger, and the Palliative Care/Home Support team who provided compassionate and accommodating care, enabling Margaret to live her last days at home as she wished.  We also thank all of Margaret-Ann’s friends and Second Street neighbors for their kindness and support.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Margaret-Ann’s name to one of the following charities:  the Kootenay Lake District Hospital Foundation, the Nelson SPCA, or the BC Cancer Foundation.

Funeral Services will be held at the Cathedral of Mary Immaculate, Saturday, February 17 at 10:00 a.m., followed by interment at the Nelson Memorial Cemetery and a reception in the Jubilee Room of the Cathedral.

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“If tears could make a staircase,

And heartaches make a lane,

We’d walk the path to heaven,

And bring you home again.

We hold you close within our hearts,

And there you will remain,

To walk with us throughout our lives,

Until we meet again.

Our family chain is broken now,

And nothing will be the same,

But as God calls us one by one,

The chain will link again.”