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, 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 life 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 was held at the Cathedral of Mary Immaculate on Thursday, May 27 in Nelson, B.C., with graveside interment at the Nelson Memorial Park Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held at a later date when Covid restrictions are lifted.
To leave a personal message of condolence please see the Thompson Funeral Service website at: www.thompsonfs.ca
- Good News
- Cannabis 19+
- Submit News Tip
- Trending Now
- Photo Galleries
- Special Sections
- Contact Us
- Site Map