(May 26, 1894 – January 11, 1980)
Life Sketch/Tribute written by Violet and John Melenchuk
Read at the Funeral Service, Beauvallon, Alberta
Catherine Chernowsky was born in Chernovtsi, Bukovina, Austria, May 26, 1894. When she was nine years old, she came to Canada with her parents and two sisters to the district of Canora, Saskatchewan.
One January 19, 1910, she married Mike Melnechuk, settling on a farm in Sturgis, Saskatchewan. Here four children–Mary, Dora, Jessie, and George–were born. George passed away at the tender age of three months. The Melnechuk family farmed at Sturgis until 1917, when they moved to Youngstown, Pennsylvania. There they were blessed with two additional daughters—Annie and Pearl. In 1920, the Melnechuks returned to Canada to settle in Beauvallon, Alberta. John, Eva, Caroline, Bill, and Ruth completed the family circle of eight daughters and two sons. The family farmed in the Beauvallon district for 51 years.
Catherine stepped out alone in faith embracing each Bible truth as it was presented, becoming a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1920. Her husband joined the church a year later. Catherine and Mike both shared the vision of raising a Christian family and educating their children. Though she never had a day of formal schooling, Catherine learned to read and write Ukrainian. She loved to read her Bible and the precious truths learned were lived out in her life. Her love and trust in God, her patience, and her continual encouragement will always be an inspiration to her family.
Catherine Melnechuk loved people. She loved to entertain in her own home and usually after the chores were done, she would walk over to her neighbors and spent a few pleasant hours visiting. She was hospitable to both friend and stranger and no one was ever turned away from her door. In the early 1930’s when times were hard, many a stranger, riding the box cars, would drop off at the Melnechuk farm and always be given food and lodging, if necessary.
She was industrious; her hands were always busy caring for the needs of others. Leisure moments found her busily knitting or embroidering. Her hands were never idle.
In those days when medical care was not always available, Catherine was often called to the bedside of one in need. She assisted women in her neighborhood as a midwife
Perhaps much more could be said about Catherine Melnechuk, but Solomon in the book of Proverbs has beautifully portrayed a word picture of her life in these words:
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children rise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”
At the time of her husband’s sudden passing in 1971, Catherine suffered a partial stroke, from which she never fully recovered. She had to have continual personalized care, which her children provided for her. Later, when she was not able to be managed at home, her daughter, Eva, and her son-in-law Anton Proskiw lovingly took her into their Pleasant Meadows Senior Citizens Home in Winfield, British Columbia. There they tenderly watched over her until on Friday evening, January 11, 1980, she quietly fell asleep in the Lord.
Mr. and Mrs. Melnechuk’s greatest ambition, which they saw fulfilled in their lifetime, was to give their children an education and at the same time remain Christians true to the Seventh-day Adventist faith.
Not mourning, but rather looking forward to the soon return of Jesus and to meeting both Mother and Dad Melnechuk again, is their eight daughters and two sons:
- Mary Slusarenko, homemaker from Clearbrook, British Columbia has eight children, seven of whom travelled to the funeral to pay their last respects to a loving, kind grandmother: Michael and Joy Slusarenko from La Sierra, California; Ed and Marg Slusarenko from Grimsby, Ontario; Evelyn and Stanley Tucker from Riverside, California; Gladys and Arnold Van Eaton from Grande Prairie, Alberta; David Slusarenko from Winnipeg, Manitoba; Johnny and Roberta Slusarenko from Medford, Oregon; Judy and baby Jason Melashenko from Laurelwood Academy in Gaston, Oregon.
- Dora Nahorney, homemaker from Edmonton, Alberta has five children. Four were at the funeral: Lawrence and Bernice Nahorney from Carstairs, Alberta; Joanne and Wally Latoski from Edmonton, Alberta; Albert and Bunty Nahorney from Ardrossan, Alberta; Helen and Mike Humenny from Quill Lake, Saskatchewan.
- Jessie Tkachuk, registered nurse from Riverside, California has one daughter.
- Annie Tarangle, nursery teacher from Abbotsford, British Columbia has one son.
- Pearl Tarangle, homemaker, who was unable to attend, lives in Aldergrove, British Columbia. She has two daughters and one son.
- Dr. John Melenchuk, optometrist from St. Paul, Alberta has three daughters and one son. Janice and Curtis from Calgary, Alberta, Karen and Randy from Calgary, Alberta, and Laura Melenchuk from Edmonton were present at the funeral.
- Eva Proskiw, teacher, who now owns and operates a Senior Citizen’s Home in Winfield, British Columbia, has one son and one daughter.
- Caroline Kiehlbauch, teacher and Day Care owner from Calgary, Alberta, has three daughters and one son. Sandra, Milton, and Twyla were at the funeral.
- Bill Melnechuk, mechanic and truck driver from Trotwood, Ohio has two daughters.
- Ruth Eli, registered nurse from Redlands, California has one daughter and one son.
Love and respect to Catherine Melnechuk were also shown by the attendance at the funeral of one daughter-in law and seven sons-in-law. Catherine also leaves 32 grandchildren who have loving memories of Baba Melnechuk and the “House on the Hill”; 58 great grandchildren and 5 great, great grandchildren.
Her family pays tribute to her life of prayer, love, and devotion.