Leonard Joseph Cherwonka



Leonard Cherwonka of Edmonton, Alberta, passed away peacefully at Capital Care Lynnwood Saturday, December 10, 2022, in his 95th year. Predeceased by his beloved wife, Doreen (nee Painsonneault.)

Len is survived by six children: Donald (Rose) of Edmonton, Bruce of Half Moon Bay BC, Diane of Edmonton AB, Gary (Jude Bailey) of Sooke BC; Judy Lewis of Halifax NS, and Robert of Spruce Grove AB; 12 grandchildren: Michelle, Amber, Crystal Lefebvre (Brad Simpson), and Corwin Cherwonka, Susan (Dave) Elia, Julie, David, and Richard (Amanda Gamache) Duczynski, Bobby, Cathlyn, and Joshua Cherwonka, Claire Lewis; and 6 great-grandchildren: Chayton and Avery Cherwonka, Cash Cherwonka, Lucas Lefebvre, Kaitlyn and Scott Elia.

Predeceased by brothers, Robert of Barrhead AB, Stanley (Nancy) of St. Thomas ON; sister, Eleanor Arnold of Prince George BC; and brother-in-law, Walter Linkewich. Survived by sister, Violet Linkewich; brother, Eugene (Maxine Magnan) of Edmonton AB; and sister-in-law, Theresa (Gleason) Cherwonka of Barrhead AB.

Len is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, dear friends, and neighbours.

Leonard was born February 1, 1927, in Mountain Park Alberta, the son of the late Anna (nee Nyl) and Stanley Cherwonka. After the tragedy of the Frank Slide, Stanley and Anne moved to farm on their homestead near Naples, Alberta, and raised 6 their children.

Len met Doreen through his cousin Phylis Halwa and he fell for her beautiful, beautiful brown eyes. Bruce recalls trying hard to learn the song by the same name on the accordion which his mom used to play.

Len and Doreen were devoted Catholics and members of St. John's Evangelist Church in Edmonton, where they were married in 1951, and resided in the Grovenor area of Edmonton where they raised their family.

Early Sunday mornings, Len ensured music was played loudly enough to awaken teenagers for church. The songs were set on repeat! Diane remembers "Somewhere my Love" and Rob still cringes at 40 Polka Hits. After moving to Thorsby, they joined Our Lady of Victory where Len always volunteered. Whether for setting up or taking down he was involved, even cooking pancakes. Len joined St. Michael's after moving to Leduc and his friend Anne would pick him up regularly.

Leonard’s first job was clearing the fields of stones at a very young age. In winter, Len played hockey and his team once won the Alberta Championship. Len left home at age 17 to work for Prodor Construction in Edmonton and around Alberta, building sewer systems, first as a labourer, then foreman for about 25 years. One memorable aspect Len talked about was feeding Ed Prodor's buffalo herd near 149 street and 118th avenue. Eventually the herd moved outside of City limits.

Diane fondly remembers going out with Dad on weekends to check on jobs. Dad would sing "You are My Sunshine" as they drove along in the Prodor pickup truck. Len moved on to work almost 25 years for the City of Edmonton as an inspector for Water & Sanitation before retiring to Pigeon Lake.

Yet after retirement, Len didn't/couldn't stop working. He net fished at the lake, selling hundreds of fish; chopped and sold multitudes cords of birch and poplar, and was a maintenance man for Rundle Mission Society at Pigeon Lake. After leaving that position, he'd be seen riding his mower for a subdivision nearby. May long weekend, Len was planting potatoes, tomatoes and the rest of the garden. Mushrooms were picked after rainy and hot days.

Often whistling while he worked, Len was well known as a go-to neighbour, always willing to help out and often having just about anything someone might need for repairs in his huge garage and many sheds (19 or 34, depending on who one talks to).

When building at the lake began in 1977, it was known as Lenny's Slave Camp by some. Eventually Len built his and Doreen's dream home where they retired. Sadly, Doreen passed in 1994.

Len never sat still and didn't want anyone else to either. Len and Doreen loved square dancing and travelling and made many friends from near and far. Len and Doreen were always busy, hosting dinners, square dancing with friends, and celebrating life with several yearly parties and regular family reunions.

During downtime in Arizona, when health reasons stopped Len from dancing or volunteering at the food bank, Len wrote memories of his work life and eventually self-published a book entitled: “Digging My Life; Memories of a Machine Operator." There were many stories family hadn't heard before. The one about a crane almost falling in the river during a sewer installation was fascinating.

Len enjoyed aggravating his 12 grandchildren, through the game Aggravation or in other ways.

Eventually, Len moved to West Haven Lifestyle Options in Leduc, Alberta. He still was out and about playing cards, bridge, crib tournaments, and bingo, or gallivanting with Eugene & Maxine, or the Ed cousins - Halwa & Karpluck. His good friend, Bill Marvin, took him out for many adventures too. As did the outlaw relative, Mary Adams, who often drove Len to visit Theresa in Barrhead. Len had many others supporting him as he aged. He was well-loved.

Our family is imagining Mom & Dad twirling and swirling in heaven in each other's arms probably dancing to "Somewhere my Love."

Our family sends shouts out to Eugene & Maxine for often going above and beyond helping Len after his accident and many times when we couldn't. And to Ed Halwa, Bill & Donna Marvin, Mary Adams and any unknown helpers we are unaware of who took Dad for groceries, errands, and appointments.

The family is extremely grateful for staff at Lynnwood who walked them through the process of our Dad's move, especially Coral, Sherry, Asha, Sarah, as well as Dr. Surmawalla who called offering condolences.

Our family would also like to thank all the staff at Lynnwood mentioned above and at West Haven (Princess, Gunheet, Sangeet, Yuric, and more too numerous to name.) They were more than caretakers to Len. They are heroes and truly caregivers. Our family is appreciative for all the compassion and caring shown to our Dad during his time there.

A Funeral Service will be held at St. John's Evangelist Church, 9850 148 St, in Edmonton, on June 23, 2023, at 10:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial Donations may be made to any charity of choice, food bank (Len volunteered), cancer (His wife), or Capital Care Lynnwood who took fantastic care of Len for the few months he lived there.


In Loving Memory of
Leonard Joseph Cherwonka
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