Sonya Alexandra Kobylanski (February 5, 1934 – May 28, 2020)

Sonya Alexandra Kobylanski, resident of Rycroft, AB, passed away at her home on Thursday, May 28, 2020, at the age of 86 years.

Sonya was born in Volin, AB where she attended school and spent most of her life. She and her husband Mike were second generation pioneers in the Volin community, where they farmed six quarters of land. In addition to raising five children and working the land, they also had chickens, pigs, and quite a large herd of cattle. Calving season in the spring was a busy time, and Sonya milked cows every morning and evening throughout the year. They also processed all of their own meat in the bunkhouse, branching off into moose sausage when hunting season came along.

As the kids grew older, Sonya worked as a waitress and a cook at Courtesy Corner restaurant. After Mike passed away, Sonya retired to the Village of Rycroft but still maintained a very busy and productive life. She worked as a cook at the Pleasant View Lodge in Spirit River, and later enjoyed part-time work at the Central Peace Signal. Sonya was also an active member of the Merry Pioneers in Rycroft. She served as their treasurer for many years, and helped to arrange and participate in many events such as whist and shuffleboard tournaments.

Sonya was an avid and talented gardener, both at the farm and later at her home in Rycroft. She prepared a wide variety of preserves from the vegetables in her garden and from the fruit trees in her yard. A family visit was not complete until she handed you a jar of jam or pickles as you were going out the door. She enjoyed picking strawberries at the local market gardens and wild mushrooms as soon as they appeared in the spring. Sonya was a wonderful cook, hosting most of the family get-togethers at her expandable kitchen table. She baked pies, cakes, cookies, and donuts, but it was her loaf of bread that took first prize at the Rycroft Agricultural Fair every year! Sonya held fast to Ukrainian tradition, perfecting perogy, cabbage roll, and nalysnyky recipes that have been passed down to her children and grandchildren. She even baked the three-tier Ukrainian bread (Korovai) for her granddaughter’s wedding.

Sonya enjoyed many different arts and crafts. Over the years she knitted socks and slippers, and crocheted fine doilies as well as beautiful large afghans. She took lessons from local art instructors in watercolors and acrylics and then created many wonderful paintings on her own at home. She loved to play cards and was a formidable opponent in whist, crib, canasta and durak. She and her husband played through many a winter evening with farm neighbours, and later she spent many afternoons at the Rycroft Seniors Centre playing cards.

Sonya absolutely loved to travel; she and Mike enjoyed vacations to Las Vegas as well as a month-long tour throughout eastern Canada. She journeyed to Ukraine and Russia with her sister Neda, and many other small trips with her sisters and brothers and their spouses. Sonya’s later travel companions were her friend Dan, and her daughters as they travelled to Cuba, Yellowstone National Park, Holland, and a ten-day bus tour of Europe that ended with another long visit with family in Ukraine.

Music played a significant part in Sonya’s life. She and Mike loved singing and dancing, often harmonizing on long drives in the vehicle with the children or grandchildren. She took piano lessons alongside her children, and even taught herself to play the harmonica and button accordion! Sonya’s beautiful singing voice was heard at local concerts at the old Volin hall and for 30 years with various community Ukrainian Choirs.

Sonya will be sadly missed by her children: Anne-Marie Silvius, Alan (Cheryl) Kobylanski, Larry Kobylanski, and Paula (Harvey) Backer; grandchildren: Katrina Kobylanski, Wasyl (Josie) Kobylanski, Jenna (Cory) Backer and Andrew (Courtney) Backer; great-grandchild Hailey Gorrell; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, other family members, and friends.

She was predeceased by her loving husband of 40 years Mike Kobylanski; son Robert Kobylanski; parents Dan and Mary Shmyr; sisters: Anne Sopko, Neda Melnichuk, and Mary Shmyr (Ukraine); and brothers: Nick Shmyr, Uhan Shmyr and Roger Rymhs.

Funeral and graveside service will be held on Saturday, June 6, 2020 at the Volin Cemetery. Due to Covid19 restrictions on group size, the service will be limited to invited family and close friends.

Memorial donations may be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.
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