Jan (John) passed peacefully at the Toronto Grace Health Centre, with his family by his side. He was 85.
Jan grew up in Komańcza, Poland, in the Subcarpathian region, Sanok County. This beautiful landscape of his youth contributed to his life-long love of nature, forests, skiing. He grew up with four sisters, who, he recently shared, spoiled and indulged their Janusz all through his childhood.
Janusz had some popularity in his 20’s, singing and traveling around southern Poland with a local Komancza choir, with his deep, rich baritone. He was a smooth dancer (he and his wife Justyna would simply glide around the dance floor) and had an artistic heart.
He met his beloved wife of 59 years, Justyna, at a family wedding. Justyna was just crazy about him, as he was of her. He always considered marrying Justyna one of the most important decisions in his life — for, together they made the decision to uproot their lives and immigrate to Canada. He courted her with his eloquent and beautifully calligraphed letters (never-mind his ridiculous good looks). They married in 1962, and welcomed their son Myroslaw later that year; suffered the loss of a late stage miscarriage; then the birth of their daughter Violetta, 6 years later.
Jan immigrated to Canada shortly after Violetta’s birth, to lay the foundation for a new life for his family. His wife and children, would arrive, after what surely felt an interminable separation, in February 1972.
Jan couldn’t carry his love of forestry, experience in forestry management and training into Canadian work experience. He spent a majority of his working life at the Goodyear Tire plant. Life wasn’t always easy, as is often the case for new immigrants, but Jan had an unwavering work ethic, which carried to his children. He was skilled at fixing almost anything (his daughter thought he was master of the universe when she was a child). He single-handedly renovated all the homes the family would move to in Toronto, until finally settling into a brand new build in Etobicoke in 1984.
Jan took great pride in the accomplishments of his children, including his lovely daughter-in-law. He was always ready and willing to help — a shoulder to cry on, a paint brush for that hallway repaint, deck building, graduations, all of it brought him such satisfaction and joyfulness. His grandsons were always a tremendous source of love and delight for Jan. He and Justyna took great joy in looking after the boys when they were young.
Our dear father, dido and darling husband, you will be missed terribly. Jan is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Justyna, son Myroslaw (Tania), daughter Violetta, and his two wonderful grandsons Mathew and Julian, and his sister Julia (Harhaj). He is predeceased by his sisters Tekla (Zarebska), Anna and Irena (Kusy), and his parents, Anastasia (Zerebnyj) and Andrij Ilkiw.
Special thanks to all the truly wonderful staff at the Toronto Grace Health Centre, and St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto. All the staff we encountered have been absolutely wonderful in this trying time of COVID-19. In particular, the staff in the palliative care unit of Toronto Grace cared for our father with such care and compassion in these last months. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre in support of their Palliative Care unit: