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May 7, 1919 - April 12, 2022

Peacefully after a brief illness, on Tuesday, April 12, 2022 at Holy Family Home, Maria Zajcew, beloved wife of the late Dr. Wasyl Zajcew. Last rites were administered by Father Aleksandr Harkavyi.

Maria was born May 7, 1919 in Zaluzh, Zakarpatia. She grew up with her five brothers and sisters in a family with parents, Mykhailo (a miller by trade) and Anna Oleksyk. The uncertainties brought on by the onset of the Second World War forced a decision to leave Zakarpatia in 1939, when Maria and her classmates and teachers at the Ukrainian Academy of Commerce spent two months walking before finding refuge in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. She spent the war years in Berlin, where she worked as a stenographer for the Ukrainian National Federation. It was here that she met her husband-to-be Wasyl, whom she married in 1944.

After the war, Maria and Wasyl spent several years living in displaced persons camps before being sponsored to emigrate to Canada in 1949. They arrived in Dauphin, Manitoba and spent the next decade moving between Ninette, The Pas and Clearwater Lake/Flin Flon before settling in Winnipeg in 1959.

Not long after arriving in Winnipeg, Wasyl was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Maria took on the responsibility of raising her family of three sons single handedly. She worked hard at improving her English language skills and went back to school, where she trained as a library technician. She was employed by Vincent Massey Collegiate where she worked until her retirement in 1987.

Despite the responsibilities of work and family, Maria was actively involved in the Ukrainian Canadian community. Much of her work in this regard was associated with her church parish, St. Mary the Protectress Cathedral, where she served on the lay executive board, taught both ridna shkola and Sunday school classes and led summer programs at Camp Veselka near Gimli. She was a longtime member of the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada, serving on the organization's provincial and national executives and contributing articles to the association's publication Promin. She supported a host of Ukrainian organizations and charities, either leading or contributing to their fundraising efforts. Maria continued her community work after taking up residence in the St. Mary the Protectress Millenium Villa, organizing programs of readings and public speakers for Villa residents. Her many contributions to the community were acknowledged on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2019, when she was the recipient of the prestigious Bulava award, bestowed on her by the Manitoba Provincial Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Maria is survived by her loving sons, Roman (Karen), Bohdan (Gayle) and Orest (Stephanie); her grandson Zakhari (Alisha) and family in Ukraine. She'll be missed by her dearest friend Sonia Kushliak (with daughter Halya), as well as other friends and acquaintances.

Special thanks to caregivers Anna, Vika and Valia who made sure Maria remained healthy and engaged with life during her final years living at the Millenium Villa. The family also acknowledges the great care she received from "her girls" at Bayshore Home Health Services (Moneliza, Arlene and Rajdeep in particular) and from the staff at Holy Family Home.

There will be a Panakhyda on Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. at the St. Mary the Protectress Cathedral, 820 Burrows Avenue. A funeral service will take place on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. at the St. Mary the Protectress Cathedral, followed by interment at Glen Eden Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, friends so desiring can make donations to the St. Mary the Protectress Cathedral in Winnipeg.

Vichnaya Pam'yat

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 16, 2022

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