Obituary of KAZIMIEZ ZYWOTKIEWICZ
Kazimierz (Kaz) Zywotkiewicz was born on January 27th 1925, in Vilnius, once part of Poland, and was one of six siblings. At age 13 he attended a vocational school where he was in early preparation to eventually work on the railway.
Around this time, World War 2 began and he was taken prisoner by the Germans and forced to work in a paper mill near Frankfurt. Life was extremely difficult in the paper mill until he was liberated from there at the war's end. Soon afterward Kaz served in the Polish American Guard in various locations around Germany. He eventually went to Belgium where he worked in the mines and eventually saved up enough money to travel back to his former home in Vilnius to try to find out what had become of his family. He came across a friend who was still living there who knew his brother Ignace had survived the war, and told Kaz he was living in Canada.
Despite not knowing where in Canada his brother was, he still decided to emigrate and boarded a ship. After landing in Halifax, he went to Montreal and finally to Valdor, Quebec where he once again worked in the local mines. It was here where he came into contact with a priest who offered to help him search for his brother. He was able to get in contact with Ignace who replied that he was living in Winnipeg. Kaz took a holiday and went to Winnipeg and reunited with his brother, his wife Mary, and their new young family.
He and his new wife Natalia (nee Boraca) moved to Couchenour near Red Lake, Ontario where he secured a mining job along with many other new Polish immigrants. In 1964 Natalia gave birth to their only child, daughter Virginia. A few years later Kaz had saved up enough money and they relocated to Winnipeg to be closer to Ignace and his growing family.
In Winnipeg he began working as a Boilermaker helper for CP rail, where he was able to use some of his railway industry skills learned earlier in his life. He was employed there for 24 years, until his retirement in 1990.
Kaz was a fascinating man; plain-spoken and matter of fact, and also a ‘doer’. Whenever he did talk about the war, more often than not, he often talked about the kindness of others, especially some German people he came into contact with who snuck him food and supplies. Remarkably he even recalled some humorous situations he experienced during an otherwise extremely traumatic time in his life.
He was very resourceful. He was a tinkerer, and an early pioneer ‘reuser’ of appliances, tools, furniture and many items which he either rebuilt or repurposed, all of which thoroughly fascinated family and friends alike.
He loved Canada whole-heartedly, and would frequently speak to his daughter and son-in-law how grateful he was to be able to build a good life in Canada and that he was able to have a family and provide for them.
In his last years, all of his family: his daughter, son-in-law and nephews helped with his care, along with everyone at Holy Family Long Term Care Centre. While there he enjoyed his
pierogies, sauerkraut and sausages as well weekly mass on Sundays. Many thanks to everyone at Holy Family for their care, commitment and consideration for Kaz.
Kaz passed away peacefully Tuesday October the 10th. He is survived by his loving daughter Virginia Bagshaw (Tim), and his nephew Henry Zywotkiewicz (Kris), and their children Jenner and Adam; and nephew Richard. Kaz’s wife Natalia, predeceased him (in 2019). He was also predeceased by his brother Ignace (‘Iggy’) (in 2012) and Iggy's wife Mary (2021) and more recently his nephew Robert (‘Bob’) (in 2022).
A grave-side service and interment for both Kaz and his wife Natalia's ashes will be held at Holy Ghost Cemetery, 4287 Main Street, West St. Paul, MB, on October 26, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.
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