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Adam Kowalyshyn Adam Kowalyshyn Adam Kowalyshyn Adam Kowalyshyn Adam Kowalyshyn Adam Kowalyshyn Adam Kowalyshyn

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Adam Kowalyshyn

November 3, 1938 - May 20, 2021


It is with tremendous sorrow that we say goodbye to our treasured Adam – husband, father, grandfather, brother-in-law, and uncle – after a long and courageous battle with cancer.  Adam was born to Eugene and Mary Kowalyshyn on November 3, 1938 in Norquay, Saskatchewan, and passed away peacefully May 20, 2021 at Kootenay Lake District Hospital with his wife, life partner, and soul mate Margaret Ann by his side.

Adam spent his first eighteen years on the family farm where he lived until 1957, when his parents decided to move to Rossland, B.C. Adam and his brother Orest decided to join their parents, and Adam – encouraged by his dad to pursue higher education – began earning money for tuition, working at Jones Ties and Poles, the Cominco Assay Office in Trail, and as a full partner at the Red Mountain Ski Lodge.   Adam began dating Margaret Ann in 1960 when they both worked at the Lodge, although they had met briefly at a friend’s party two years earlier where she immediately caught his eye.  They bonded over washing dishes, peeling potatoes, as well as skiing together after shifts. They married in 1964 and had their daughter Wendy Ann in 1969.  In 2014 they celebrated their 50th anniversary with their family and close friends at a memorable party organized by Wendy and her family.   Adam passed away four days after celebrating his 57th anniversary; we believe that he held on to celebrate one final anniversary with Margaret Ann.

Adam attended Victoria College, earning a teaching license in 1961, which took him to his first job at a one-room schoolhouse at Dog Creek in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, where he taught from 1961 to September 1963.  He then graduated to a two-room schoolhouse at the Emerald Mines Townsite school near the Harold Lakes, serving as principal before earning a position at South Nelson Elementary School in 1964, where he taught until his retirement in 1995. Between 1964 and 1972, Adam enrolled in summer school courses, earning his Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Victoria in 1972, as it was affordable only by working full-time during school year.

At South Nelson Elementary, Adam taught grades 5 and 7, serving as assistant principal for many years, although he was best known for his talent and passion for teaching environmental sciences and art.  His classes involved numerous field trips to local habitats, and varied opportunities in the visual arts.  He introduced students to clay work, silk screening, painting, and puppetry – arts not widely taught at the elementary level at the time.  Many former students who met him years after retirement thanked him for igniting their creativity, and for catalyzing their own pursuits of environmental sciences, conservation, and the visual arts.

Adam pursued his enthusiasm for nature and art beyond his teaching career.  He was a long serving member of the Nelson Rod and Gun Club, working towards improvements at the gun range and most notably, serving in a leadership role for the restoration of Cottonwood Creek; for his work, he was made an Honorary Lifetime Member.  He loved all experiences in the outdoors, in winter enjoying downhill and cross-country skiing, as well as ice fishing.  Summers were spent camping, hiking, picking huckleberries, and shore fishing for kokanee and rainbow trout.  Until Adam’s health issues of recent years, he also enjoyed hunting, with Margaret Ann joining him on many of his outdoor adventures.   He also loved his garden, especially the planting of cucumbers, which he proudly canned into delicious sweet pickles every year.

Adam was part of the Catholic community and a hard-working member of the Knights of Columbus for many years, working behind the scenes in fundraising and many other capacities. He was quietly influential through his character and actions – kind and patient with other people, and forgiving, yet firm in standing up for what he believed was just, fair, and truly Christian.  His family will remember him as eternally calm, rational, and patient.  He bore his many health challenges – from open-heart surgery in 2000, to a stroke in 2015, and a 2017 major surgery to address an aggressive cancer – with patience, dignity, and his characteristic calm.  His 2017 surgery led to major debilitations, yet he was grateful for its extension of his life and never regretted his choice to pursue treatment.

Adam’s family will remember his humor and positive attitude during adversity, his words of encouragement and support, and the example he set of a life well lived.  He was, in the words of Margaret Ann, a ”gentle person and gentleman” to his core, and  asserts that she “couldn’t have had a better husband than Adam.”  Wendy is grateful for her dad’s tenacity – showing her that you should always finish what you start, and do so with optimism when challenges seem insurmountable — and for instilling in her a love of teaching, drawing, painting, camping, and a deep appreciation of nature, the West Kootenay area, and conservation.  She will always cherish the last months she spent with her dad, playing cards (and losing many games to him), preparing him daily farm-style breakfasts, and reading aloud a memoir about life on the prairies. Grandson Daniel will remember grandpa teaching him to fish; a favorite photo shows Daniel proudly holding up a rainbow trout with Grandpa Adam. Grand-daughter Hailey has many wonderful memories of seeing him get excited about a big catch, hearing stories about his teaching career, and his “spot-on Donald Duck impressions”.  Son-in-law Ron is grateful for a father-in-law who treated him like a son and for sharing all his hunting and fishing secrets.

Adam was predeceased by his parents Eugene and Mary, brother Orest, six great uncles, and brother-in-law John Sodja, who was like a brother.  Adam is survived by his wife Margaret Ann, daughter Wendy Burleson (Ron), grandson Daniel and granddaughter Hailey of Victoria; sister-in-law Marga Sodja, nephew John Sodja (Dianne) and family, niece Caroline Sodja (Pierre) of Ottawa, many cherished friends, neighbors, former colleagues, and his loving cat companion Gabriel.  The family wishes to thank Adam’s doctors, the Home Care nurses, paramedics, and hospital staff for their exceptional care as well as the amazing Palliative Care Program, who provided support and dignity for Adam’s end of life journey.  Special thanks to Dr. Robinson, Dr. Van der Berg, and Dr. Malpass for helping Adam live the longest and best life that he could.  Many thanks to our relatives, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances for their support and kind words. Donations in Adam’s memory are gratefully accepted to one of the following organizations:  the Kootenay Lake District Hospital Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, the B.C. Heart and Stroke Foundation, or the B.C. SPCA.

A  mass  will be held at the Cathedral of Mary Immaculate on Thursday, May 27 in Nelson, B.C., and the service will be live-streamed for the church community.  Friends are welcome to attend the graveside interment at 11:00 at the Nelson Memorial Park Cemetery.  A celebration of life will be held when Covid restrictions are lifted.




Send a condolence, light a candle and/or share a memory, click "Send Condolence". Once your message has been approved by the moderator it will be posted to the website.

From: Thompson Funeral Services Ltd.

Thompson Funeral Service Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Ron and Frances Welwood
Relation: parishioner

Adam will be missed by many in Nelson…his family, fellow retired educators, neighbours and former Blessed Sacrament and Cathedral of Mary Immaculate parishioners. Take heart and take prayers from above for a life well lived and

From: Cheryl McGhie
Relation: Teacher, mentor

My mom, Rose McGhie, worked with Mr Kowalyshyn for years and enjoyed and respected his leadership, for that I thank him. As for me, he was my teacher and I will always remember his puppet classes! To this very day I’ve never met anyone outside of South Nelson that had the same experiences, for that I’m thankful. I was a difficult student, having many undiagnosed learning issues, but My Kowalyshyn was always kind, patient and pointing me in the right direction.

My condolences to the family from the McGhie Family…Bonnie, Bobby, Karen, Donna, Cheryl and Rose and Bob…

From: Cyndi Whitfield Sarton
Relation: He was my Grade 3 Teacher

Mr. Kowalyshyn was an amazing teacher. Such a kind and patient teacher….and the art classes were like none other! I was in his grade 3/5 split class in 1964 at South Nelson. My sincere condolences to his Family.

From: Linda Taylor
Relation: Fellow teacher

Adam was a fellow teacher many years ago and I wish to send my condolences to his family. I remember him as a kind, dedicated and popular teacher and staff member.
God be with you, Adam.

From: Jeremy McComb
Relation: He was my teacher

Sending thoughts and prayers to Mr.K’s family. I am so sad to hear of his passing. I had Mr.K as my grade 5 teacher at South Nelson in 1982. He became my favourite teacher of all time. He was firm but fair and always demanded our best. I had much respect for him and he helped inspire me to become a teacher. I loved that we did art all the time and we got our own little locker like cubicle in the back of the class. He would send our art off to a National art exhibit where some students would win prizes (not me lol). I wish I told him how much I appreciated him as a teacher and I’m sure there are many more like me that are better humans because of Mr. K. He will be missed.

From: Ralph clarke
Relation: friend

A servant to His Fellow Man
I was sorry to learn of Adam Kowalyshyn’s recent passing, having admired him since our first meeting. Wherever he interacted with others, he projected an aura of quiet dignity, and seemed to be guided by the benediction, “Always be mindful of the wants and needs of others”.
I first met him as a patient in my dental practice, and along with his lovely family he responded positively to my message of controlling dental disease through flossing and brushing. Not everyone can or will comply with this advice, because it requires an interest in the value of healthy teeth and gums, and also the self-discipline to compete with the mouth bacteria daily. Adam had those qualities and exemplified my friend Archdeacon Alan Jackson’s famous phrase, “the only discipline that really works is self-discipline”.
I next came to know him as the neighbour of my wife’s family living on Second Street. There, he was a model of community-minded civility, always circumspect, courteous, respectful, and meticulous about the care of his home and yard. In short, the perfect neighbour.
When I retired from dentistry, I joined the Nelson Rod and Gun Club where Adam was an active member. He showed leadership on various committees which contributed to the improvement of the natural world. Together with others, I helped him tend to the remediation and improvement of Cottonwood Creek waterway by collecting garbage and planting trees.
After reading his well-written and extensive obituary I have come to realize he was a much more accomplished man than he let on to me, fulfilling through his humble manner all the qualities of a gentleman that I so much admire. Adam Kowalyshyn led an exemplary life and showed us the way to ‘tick all the boxes’ of a life well lived. Fortunate are those who have been associated with Adam, for to know him was to love him.

From: MaryAnn (Dillon) Cleary
Relation: Cousin to Margaret Ann

I am so sorry for your loss. I just found out. My prayers and love are with you and your family.

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