On Saturday, December 19, 2020, our mom Jean Zeleny, at the age of 99 years passed away peacefully in St Joseph’s Hospital. She was born in the “Coal Dock” area of Fort William on March 2, 1921, the youngest child of Nicholai and Maria Cherniwchan. The name was Anglicized to Chanook when her older brother John went to School. Mom attended Vocational High School & the Ukrainian School at Prosvita.
Although her first language in those early years was Ukrainian, she was completely bilingual… She had outstanding marks in both the English & Ukrainian schools, but in Grade 10 she had to leave school because her mother needed help at home. Her dad had died 3 years before in January of 1933, and her mother had to work to support the family. With her brother’s John & Bill working outside the home to bring in much needed money, she did the household chores of cooking and cleaning. Everyone carried their weight to support the family.
Life was very busy for Jean in those early years. As well as doing much of the household chores, she learned to play the mandolin and played in an orchestra. She loved Ukrainian dancing and singing in a choir. Although life at times appeared to be difficult in trying to manage it all, she never saw it that way and talked affectionately of those early years.
On August 2, 1941, she married our dad Walter Zeleny. He was in the army and shortly after their wedding, he left for England to fight in the war. Our mom went to work at Canada Car as one of the many Rosie’s of the North. The money she made during those years was used to build their home. In May of 1947 they moved into their house. Although it was not completely finished inside, they were excited & proud of what they had accomplished. My dad had built most of the house himself, mom took care of the inside, making curtains& bedspreads & anything else they needed. As the years went by, any extra money they had was used to finish their home.
Mom continued to live in that house for the rest of her life. It was a house full of love and laughter and good food. Our mom was a fantastic cook and baker. Everything was made from scratch, we always had dessert. All of our vegetables were “organic” grown in her mother’s garden. Friends were always welcome and our doorbell was always ringing with friends wanting us to come out and play or to come in and play and have some of mom’s homemade cookies, pies or cakes that were always there.
Square dancing was a big part of our parent’s lives. They made many lifelong friends and travelled extensively, their dancing taking them to many cities & towns in Canada as well as in the continental US and Hawaii. They even danced for Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip when they visited the city.
She was a much-loved mother, mother-in-law, grandma and great grandma. She will be sadly missed by her daughter Barbara Topp & her son Donald Zeleny and their spouses Larry & Gloria and by 7 grandchildren, Dennis (Sue) Topp, Brian (Monique) Topp, Jim Topp, Christy (JP) LeCuyer, Joe (Melissa) Zeleny, Michele (Yves) Blais and Andrew Zeleny, and 16 great grandchildren. Jessica & Matthew Topp & Ashley, Kelsey & Nicholas DeGrazia, Eddie & Emma Topp, Sophie & Sammy Topp & Katie Walsh, Paul & Hanna LeCuyer, Ashlyn & Brodie Zeleny, Austin & Porter Blais as well as her nephew Robert Chanook & his wife Esther.
She was predeceased by her husband Walter in 2004, her mother & father, Maria & Nicholai Cherniwchan & her step father Nick Hohol, as well as her brothers John & Bill Chanook, their wives Lottie and Pearl, and her sister Ann who died in 1918 at 25 months of age of the Spanish Flu.
Due to pandemic restrictions, cremation has taken place and a Family Celebration of her life will be held at a later date.
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Nos plus sincères sympathies à la famille et aux amis de Jean Zeleny 2020..
Décès pour la Ville:Thunder Bay, Province: Ontario