MARY PRYMAK (nee LEONTOWICZ)
May 19, 1929 - January 8, 2022
It is with deep profound sadness and eternal grateful love the children of Mary Prymak (nee Leontowicz) announce her passing on Saturday, January 8, 2022, at the age of 92. Mary our loving and devoted mother and friend to all whose lives she touched left us while surrounded by family and sleeping peacefully at River East Personal Care Home.
Mary will live forever in the hearts of her beloved eight children Geraldine (Randy), Janice Ukrainec (John), Maria Prymak-Irvine (Grant), Patricia, Harry (Debby), Suzy (Dennis), Johnny, Joseph (Catherine); beloved Baba to her cherished grandchildren Michael (Whitney), Brenda-Lynn (James), Melanie, Tyler (Amber), Peter (Karla), Matthew, Cole, Aly, Carmina, and a “Great” Baba to Brayden, Emmett, Jayda and will be remembered by her numerous nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends.
Mary was pre-deceased by her husband Jerry Prymak on November 1, 2006. Her parents Michael Leontowicz and Agatha (nee Sopel) and her nine siblings Andrew, George, Nicholas, John, Kathleen, Peter, Paul, Anne, and Dmytro.
Mary Leontowicz was born in Ituna Saskatchewan, the ninth of ten children born to Michael and Agatha Leontowicz. Mom was first generation Canadian. Her parents immigrated from the Ukraine after World War 1. Ukrainian was their first language, and they were proudly brought up in the Ukrainian Catholic faith. As Mom would tell “in the dirty 30’s” when she was just a preschool girl, her Dad packed up all the kids and made their way to Manitoba and to her family home in south-side Transcona in Winnipeg Manitoba. This is where mom grew up and she graduated from Central School in Transcona. As a young girl, she loved to skate and play baseball with her brothers and sisters.
In the late 1940’s she met Jerry Prymak and they married on August 12, 1950. They initially lived with family in East Kildonan and then in 1959, they purchased a farm in the town of Birds Hill. Here is where Mom and Dad raised their family – all of us.
Mom was “Super Mom” in our eyes.
Mom lived a full life as a Mother and homemaker. She loved to cook and was a farm girl at heart. Gardening was a passion and she always had a big garden where she would plant an abundance of vegetables which she always shared and would prepare, freeze, and can so we could enjoy over winter. She made sauerkraut and the best dill pickles ever. She was an amazing cook and taught us to make perogies, holupchi, perishky, borscht, homemade noodles for chicken soup, and jelly cake just to name a few - all us kids are better cooks because of Mom. Fridays were usually homemade perogies and doughnuts day and we would race home from school as you could already taste them even before getting into the house. Christmas and Easter dinners were a feast, the dinner table was always full of every dish you were supposed to have. Mom always followed her Ukrainian traditions. At Easter, she always prepared the Easter basket and took it to church for blessing. For Christmas Eve we had our 12 traditional meatless dishes, she loved midnight mass and Mom always made sure our Christmas stockings - which were usually one of Dad’s work socks - were filled with oranges, nuts, candy cane, Christmas candy, and a few other surprises. Mom always made our birthdays extra special with a homemade birthday cake which always consisted of a few hidden treats inside. Mom raised chickens too. Every Sunday she prepared a big, delicious family dinner, often a roasted chicken or chicken soup with homemade noodles. Most times that chicken we just ate was running around in the morning only to be the main course for supper that same day thanks to Mom. She welcomed anyone and everyone who happened to come by for a visit and it was a guarantee that you were staying for supper and most likely were taking home a little something to snack on later.
“Mom had a heart of gold”
She loved to knit, crochet, and sew and made us some really cute outfits for school picture days and warm cozy hats, scarves, and mittens. Mom loved her flower gardens which kept her busy as if raising, feeding, and keeping all eight of us on track didn’t keep her busy enough. Mom and Dad went into the market gardening business. They had a few greenhouses in which they planted the seeds and when ready many of the plants were sold and the rest was transplanted into her big garden and flower beds. She made many wonderful and long-lasting friendships over the years by selling her plants and vegetables from the garden. Mom always welcomed the local elementary school kids to come over to the yard on field trip day and pick pumpkins for Halloween. She also made sure each one of them had a little snack before they left with their pumpkins. Picking mushrooms “pidpenkey” was another favorite tradition Mom liked to do and even doing this she managed to meet and make a few wonderful lifelong friends.
Once the greenhouse business was finished Mom went to work part-time at Ludwick’s Catering for a few years. She never did have her driver's license but she would ride her blue CCM bicycle to work where she made perogies, cabbage rolls, and prepare various other dishes - yes now she was getting paid to prepare food.
In the 1980s Mom and Dad purchased some property in RM of Brokenhead which we kids along with the grandkids had some wonderful great adventures there with Mom (Baba) and Dad (Gigi). Mom also did some traveling over the years. She did get to Ituna to see and check out her roots; several times she visited her brother Peter and his loving family in Hills, BC, and to attend niece Nina’s wedding. Maria accompanied Mom to Ottawa for Joseph and Catherine’s wedding and Mom, Maria, and niece Nina took a fun trip to Montreal to visit her cousin Nettie. Even at times Mom and a few of us kids would catch the Greyhound bus in the town of Birds Hill, and it would drop us off downtown and we would enjoy the day with Mom in the big city at Eaton’s and The Bay - Mom always made sure we had a little treat to munch on for the bus ride home.
She loved watching Ray St Germain, Rita MacNeil, and Tommy Hunter which she even had the opportunity to see one of his shows and meet him in person. If there was a wedding shower or family event outside of the home you could always count on Mom to lend a helping hand whether that be baking a few dainties, making a dish to contribute, serving coffee or tea, helping in the kitchen, or cleaning up after she was your person. Mom always loved to socialize, dance, and kick up her heels. She loved listening to music and even in the last weeks, she enjoyed tunes from Mickey and Bunny, some good old polka music, church services, hymns, and CKJS Ukrainian hour daily in the evenings.
Mom eventually moved out of her house in Birds Hill into a 55 plus apartment in North Kildonan. This was a big change for Mom from being a country girl and now living in the big city. It was very hard for her but over time she adjusted “she loved going to Dollarama, A & W and a few other stores in the area” which were walking distance from her apartment. A few years later she moved to St. Benedict’s Monastery into assisted living which she enjoyed her time there as she was now getting her meals prepared for her.
In July 2010 Mom became a resident of River East Personal Care Home – Hope Haven Community. Here she would be known as Mary from the Prairie or Mary quite Contrary. We had many fun visits with Mom, Baba, and Great Baba – big family get-togethers for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Birthdays - sharing a beer with mom at happy hour on Friday afternoon, attending their annual BBQ, ice cream day, and even when covid did not allow for in-person visits we had numerous window visits and video chats. Many great times, memories, snack visits, and pictures with Mom.
Coming from a strong Ukrainian Catholic background Mom enjoyed attending church at St Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish in Transcona and was a member of the St Anne’s Parish Ladies League. Even while in the care home she enjoyed and attended the religious activities they offered for the elders.
Mom leaves behind numerous nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends whom she had phone calls from, cards, chocolates, flowers, and even some visits. Mom thought of you all very often. Thanks for taking the time for (Aunty) Mary.
Mary’s family would like to extend a big heartfelt “thank-you” to all the staff at River East Personal Care Home from Hope Haven Community for the years of looking after our Mom and the extra care and attention you gave to Mom in her last weeks.
Goodbye Mom, Baba, Great Baba, Aunty, Cousin, Friend - enjoy your journey.
Mom don’t forget to stop and smell the roses…knowing you, you will be planting some along the way.
Love you always and thanks for teaching us all such great values to live by in life.
We will forever treasure the abundance of wonderful memories you have given to each and every one of us along with all those who ever had the pleasure of meeting and knowing you and making them a part of your life.
You will be dearly missed and live forever in our hearts.
You held our hand when we were small
you caught us when we fell.
The hero of our childhood
and of latter years as well.
Every time we think of you
our hearts fill with pride.
And though we will always miss you
we know you’re by our side.
In laughter and in sorrow
in sunshine and in rain.
We know you’re watching over us
until we meet again.
Rest Peacefully Mom - We Love You Lots
Due to covid we will honour and celebrate Mom – Mary’s life at a future safe gathering with family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, one can donate to a charity of their choice or you can simply share a smile or reach out a helping hand in memory of our beautiful Mom “Mary”.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Prymak, please visit our floral store.