Eugenia “Jean” Sophie Kowalchuk

May 28, 1935 - November 16, 2021


Obituary For Eugenia “Jean” Sophie Kowalchuk

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Jean Kowalchuk, on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, in Spirit River, AB, at the Central Peace Health Complex Hospital after succumbing to cancer, at the age of 86 years.

Jean was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to our family, but had been known to other people in her life as “Baba”, as she had collected many people under her wings over the years.

Jean was born in May 1935, in the Greenway area north of Rycroft, AB, to parents Peter and Ahafia Smakula, and was the second youngest of her four siblings. She grew up on the family farm and went to the local Greenway school in her early years, and then after high school attended the University of Alberta to obtain her teaching degree. Upon graduation, in 1955, her first teaching job was at a one room schoolhouse at the Ksituan School in the Devale, AB, area. It was an interesting time as she often was not much older than some of her students.

It was at this time in her life that Jean met her future husband Victor. They married in July 1955, and had four children: son David, daughters Karen and Kim, and son Greg. While helping Victor with the operation of the farm, Jean taught school at Blueberry Creek between 1956 - 1977, and then until 1990 in various roles, either full-time, part-time, subbing, and then later in her career, her favorite group, kindergarten.

In 1977, she and Victor started their business V & J Small Engine Repair in Spirit River along with their son Dave and made it into a family business. After being in business for many years, they sold the business, moved off the farm into Spirit River and retired.

Over the years, Jean loved to square dance, paint, garden, read and travel. She enjoyed singing in a Ukrainian singing group as she was quite musically inclined. She also was actively involved in the Hospital Auxiliary for many years. She was involved with her sister Marie in a fundraiser to donate a “Jaws of Life” to the Spirit River Fire department, and she organized the 2006 Blueberry Homecoming.

Over the years Jean and Victor hosted many family events and accumulated a number of new “family” members who have been a part of their lives for many years. Because of this, Jean was known to quite a lot of people as “Baba”. She enjoyed meeting new people and was always happy to add to her circle of friends.

Jean is survived by her sister Zel Shalagan; daughters Karen Graunke (Bill), and Kim Berry (Joe); son Greg; honorary daughter Janette Santos; grandchildren: Adam Kowalchuk (Mareike), Paul Berry, Joseph Berry, Randy Kowalchuk, Adrionna Kowalchuk; step-grandchildren Angela Scorda-Jodoin (Denis) and Nick Scorda (Stacey); great-grandchildren: Jessica, Seianna, Jaden, Gage, Alex, Cade, and Brea. Mom will be dearly missed by Lydia Kowalchuk; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family and friends.

Jean was predeceased by her husband Victor Kowalchuk; son David Kowalchuk; infant daughter Mary Kowalchuk; brother Albert Smakula; sisters Anne Sarapuk and Marie Melnyk; brothers in-law Andrew Sarapuk and Orest Melnyk; niece Cynthia Fleming and husband Dale Fleming; nephew Loren Melnyk; parents Peter and Ahafia Smakula; as well as in-laws Michael and Katherine Kowalchuk.

Our family would like to extend thanks, especially to Betty Sopkow, Mom’s dear friend for all her help and support, her friends at Grandview Estates, Dr. D. Wolfaardt, the nursing staff at the Central Peace Health Complex Hospital in Spirit River, and too many others to mention here who helped make her days easier, especially during these last few months.

Memorial donations may be issued in Jean’s name to the Central Peace Health Complex Auxiliary (P.O. Box 866, Spirit River, AB, T0H 3G0), or to STARS (10911 123 St., Grande Prairie, AB, T8V 7Z3).

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, December 11, 2021, at 1:00pm, at Centennial Hall in Spirit River (4812 44 Ave). Restriction Exemption Program will be in effect.




Celebration of Life

01:00 PM

Centennial Hall
4812 44 Ave
Spirit River, AB

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  • Our sincerest condolences to Jean's family. She was a wonderful, warm, kind and intelligent lady. Whenever we came to Spirit to see Betty, we always had a visit with Jean. Was one of the highlights of the trip. She will be truly missed by all of us Sopkow's and most especially Betty. Take care. With thoughts and prayers, Terry and Lisa Sopkow and family

  • Our thoughts and prayers go out to all family and "extended" family. Jean was such a wonderful person. The last time we had a chat was a few years ago at the Farmer's Market in Rycroft (which I have had to quit because of husband's health). Jean was wanting to purchase an item for her daughter's cat and she was laughing and said "I never thought that I would ever buy something for an animal, especially a Christmas present" She had made a purchase previously for the cat and it like the gift so much she thought it should hae a new one. We had a good laugh over that. Always good to see her whenever we went into V & J's. or just meet her on the street and we would have a very pleasant chat. Rest in peace Jean in your eternal Home.

  • I am so sad to lose my last and most beloved Auntie. She was such a generous and gracious lady. My sincerest condolences to everyone affected by her passing. I will miss her spirited conversations deeply. RIP my dear Aunt. Thank you for your love and support over the years.

  • I'm sorry for your loss of your mom

  • Kim, Joe, Joe Jr and Paul, Condolences. Our thoughts are with you all. Jim and Theresia

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