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Jessie Bilenki (Siwak)



It is with heavy hearts that we have to announce that our mother, grandmother and great grandmother has passed away at her residence in Vancouver B.C. Jessie was in her 93 rd year.

Jessie was born in Silver Creek, Manitoba to Ukrainian parents, Katherine and Mike Siwak. Growing up in Silver Creek, Jessie was one of 4 children. She was very proud of her Ukrainian heritage and passed that on to her children and grandchildren.

She contracted polio as a young girl and spent many years in hospital away from home. Although it took its toll, Jessie never let the polio define her. She fought with determination and strength to do everything she wanted to do. She had beautiful gardens, raised chickens and farm animals, mowed acres of grass, walked miles, married and raised three children and danced at our weddings. She really was remarkable.

In 1950, after moving to Thunder Bay, she met Walter Bilenki and together they made a beautiful life working hard, travelling and enjoying their family. Jessie was a wonderful cook and made delicious Ukrainian feasts. Not only on special occasions but almost every weekend when Sunday dinner was served to her growing family of her children and their spouses and eventually the grandkids. Her cabbage rolls and nalysneky were the best.

She was also an excellent seamstress, crocheter, knitter, quilt maker, crafter and needlepoint artist. We all have her fine needlepoint canvases hanging in our homes. Her knitting skills left her grandchildren with many outfits, sweaters, mitts and slippers.

She made hundreds of articles over the years and even donated her knitted creations to those in need. Her one-of-a-kind Christmas stockings were treasured. With needle point names, crocheted lace and Christmas appliqués and embellishments the stockings were hung with great pride every year. Her hands were always busy.

Walter passed away in 2002. After losing him, Jessie decided to spend the winters in Vancouver B.C. and stayed with her youngest son Ivan. She enjoyed the milder climate and in 2009 decided to leave Thunder Bay and make the move to Vancouver permanent.

Ivan became the primary care giver and treated her like a queen. He watched over her with dedication, love and compassion.

Jessie will be loving remembered by her three children, Marilynn Whitney(Ken), Brian Bilenki(Maryann), and Ivan. Grandchildren, Katherine Whitney, Cameron(Gordon), Kyle Bilenki, Kimberly Whitney(Anne), Matthew Whitney(Tai), Adam Bilenki(Karen) and Eric Bilenki(Samantha). Greatgrandchildren, Morgan and Murray Cameron, Bryar and Brooks Bilenki, Ada Whitney and Max Bilenki.

She is also survived by other family members across Canada and the U.S.A. and in the Ukraine. Jessie was predeceased by her devoted husband Walter, parents Katherine and Mike Siwak, brothers’ Charlie and Leonard, sister Anne Kavulic and their spouses and Walter’s parents Anna and Mike Bilenki, sister Maria Kostyshin and nephew Andrew.

Cremation has taken place. A private family gathering and a celebration of Jessie’s life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, if friends so desire, donations made in memory of Jessie to a children’s charity would be greatly appreciated.

Funeral arrangements are in care of Kearney Funeral Services in Vancouver. On line condolences may be made at -

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