Peacefully, surrounded by family, this loving and gentle man was welcomed home by God on November 16, 2014 at Windsor Regional Hospital, Metropolitan Campus. He will be deeply missed by his wife and best friend of 67 years Natalia (Nettie), his children Carol Ann (+Patrick McDonald), Mary Jane (Gord Peterson) and Michael Joseph. He was beloved Dido to grandchildren Mary Lauren Schmidlin (Michael), Caitlin Mollard (Joseph), Talia Morrissey, Andrew Peterson, Julie Lauria (Brett), Maxym Wilk, and Nikola Wilk. He is also missed by his sister, Maria in Kazakstan, and his sister-in-law Jarislava (Jerry) Woloch (+Tony). Uncle Mike was also beloved by his many nieces and nephews.
Mike lived his life with an unwavering faith in God, positive view of life, and devotion to his family. He was a man of humility and integrity who never failed to see the best in others and in return, he was loved and respected by all who knew him. He greeted everyone with a warm smile and genuine caring.
Mike was born in Turinka, Ukraine (under Polish rule), and came to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1938 as an orphan at the age of 13 where he was adopted by family. As a proud new Canadian, he enlisted in the Canadian Army and served overseas from 1941–1946, where he saw active battle on the front lines, including landing on Juno Beach during the epic Battle of Normandy. During his military service, he was awarded the France and Germany Medal, the 1939-45 Star, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, and the War Medal (1939-45). In addition, he was the Boxing Champion, Heavyweight Class, 3rd Division Infantry of Northwest Europe. Mike was also awarded the “Thank You Canada Medal”, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of Holland, in appreciation from the Dutch people.
After the war, Mike came to Windsor, Ontario, where he met Nettie, the love of his life, at a dance at the Ukrainian hall on his first day in town, and they were married 14 months later. Mike worked for 35 years at Hiram Walker where his great work ethic, talent and creativity helped him earn the title “Chief Photographer” until his retirement in 1987. He earned his Professional Photographer designation from the prestigious Winona School of Photography. During his amazing career, he photographed many celebrities and politicians, among them Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy, and was the official family photographer of Finance Minister Paul Martin Sr., whose son, Paul Martin Jr. became the Prime Minister of Canada. He had the opportunity to travel extensively across North America, including a trip to New York City on the Concorde where his assignment was in one of the Twin Towers. His work has been featured in many publications, including “Sign of the Times”; the Art Gallery of Windsor’s, “Uncommon Cookbook, Volumes I & II”; as well as “Ukrainian Easter” and “Ukrainian Christmas”, written by his niece, Mary Ann Woloch Vaughn. With Nettie always at his side, Mike was also the “visual recorder” and cast photographer of the Windsor Light Opera Association for over 60 years. Through the years, he photographed most of Windsor’s Ukrainian community, taking pictures at cultural and religious events at Church and throughout the city.
Special thanks to Pastor Fr. Eugene Halitsky for his unwavering spiritual support, and Mike’s many caregivers throughout his last journey. He always appreciated and thanked everyone for their help.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Windsor Chapel Funeral Home (Main Chapel), 1700 Tecumseh Rd. E., Windsor, ON (519-253-7234). On that day, there will be a Veterans’ Honour Guard ceremony to recognize Mike’s service to his country at 4:30 p.m. and Panahyda (Parish prayers) at 7:30 p.m. On Friday, November 21, 2014, Mike’s 90th birthday, we will celebrate his life with visitation from 10:30 a.m. at Sts. Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Church, 601 Lake Trail Drive, Windsor, ON (519-254-7927) until the time of the Funeral Mass at 11:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sts. Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Church Building Fund, or to the Hospice of Windsor & Essex County. www.windsorchapel.com