We Remember


On February 27, 2021, Halina Petelski went home to be with the Lord at the age of 90.

To say Halina had a full life is an understatement.  Born in Warsaw Poland in 1930 from a noble family of pedigree and privilege but stolen through the perils of the First World War, the family name and the dignity of an honourable and proud bloodline was how Halina came into the world. Her family home and possessions were brutally taken over by war, but she carried her parentage pride like a crown throughout her life.  Until the age of 9 Halina lived a privileged, peaceful life with her parents and her sister and brother. Her father owned and ran the local Mercantile in a middle-class area of Warsaw, but when the second World War bombed the Capitol, the family fled the city with only light possessions, jewelry and money.

Halina watched her mother sell her jewelry piece by piece to pay for meager dwellings and living expenses, and with winter coming this enterprising young lady at the age of 9 would duck past German soldiers to take the 2 km walk each day to a friend who gave her loaves of baked bread from his/her bakery in order to sell to local neighbours. Halina, being the shortest and fastest of her brother and sister, never got caught and was able to sell these loaves for whatever money was offered, with one loaf spare for themselves.  In their one-bedroom home, the five of them would gather and sing, playing and praising Jesus for their abundance and their survival.  Sadly, Halina’s father passed away shortly after that from pneumonia he caught by working as a farm-hand in the cold, without proper attire.

At the age of 18, Halina was courted and accepted her hand in marriage to Wlodzimierz Jacyszyn, a preacher twice her age with whom she birthed 5 children. Elizabeth, Lydia, Andrew, Eva and Ania. Halina worked various jobs to make extra money while caring for her children, virtually a single mother of 5 because her husband was always on the road preaching the gospel.  In 1950, every pastor in Poland was arrested, all churches were closed, and Halina’s husband was imprisoned for 9 months which meant no income was coming in, so again Halina found ways through the church to work and keep her children safe. No one ever knew how financially poor she was because Halina always made sure her children went to school with white collar and cuffs that were starched and pressed as part of their uniform. Shoes were polished and socks mended to perfection, hair neatly braided with clean face and nails and a belly full of food – Sometimes with only potato soup and a piece of bread, but nonetheless, full.

Halina was 8 months pregnant with her fifth child when her husband was tragically killed on his motorcycle, an accident as a result of a drunk driver. In 1967 with 5 children, this time with the reality that she was a single mother, Halina Jacyszyn met a George Petelski, a Russian Baptist preacher who travelled from Canada to Warsaw as a guest from his church in St Catherine’s, Ontario. George, a recent widower himself was also with 5 children, but his family was already in University or married with children of their own. The two met at church and before long George asked for Halina’s hand in marriage, then emigrated the Jacyszyn family to Canada where they began their lives together in St. Catharines, Ontario.

In the early 1970s Halina, George and 3 of her 5 children were on a driving holiday to British Columbia to visit friends from the “Old Country”. They were making their way to Chilliwack when their Van hit black ice and skidded over a cliff. The Van turned over 3 times before landing wheels down at the bottom of a 50-foot ravine – By the divine power of their faith in God, Halina and the children only were lightly bruised and George needed hospitalization for broken ribs and fractured bones and the nearest hospital was Kelowna.  While her husband was convalescing at Kelowna General Hospital, Halina took a walk around, saw the lake, looked up at the mountains with all its rugged beauty and saw the potential of a good life, she knew that this was going to be home. With a down-payment on almost an acre of land on Gordon Road, Halina, George, and her three youngest children moved to town in 1973. The two oldest daughters remained in Ontario, already in their 20s, married and pursuing their own careers and lives.

George became a pastor of a Slavic Russian Church on Ethel Street where they both ministered faithfully. Halina blessed many of the congregation each Sunday with her love of music and extraordinary singing voice as well as catering all bible studies and special events that George’s congregation gathered at. Sunday mornings the family attended Evangel Church for her children to attend Sunday School in the English language as well as meet like-minded friends and opportunities for work. While George was a carpenter during the week, Halina got a job at BC Tree Fruits in the Packing House.

Halina was never idle. She had the energy of two or three people always fixing, mending, cooking, cleaning and helping anyone she could. After a full day or night shift at the Packing House, Halina would come home, and before resting herself, she made sure her children’s clothes were ready for school and a packed lunch was prepared for her kids and husband and there was a full hot meal for dinner.

In 2012, Halina’s second husband, George Petelski passed away from Alzheimer’s. It was in 2016 when Halina remarried for the 3rd time to James Nicholas from Abbotsford. A widower who was visiting family in Kelowna that fateful weekend, James swept Halina off her feet! He was truly smitten – James told Halina he went to Evangel church that morning in 2015 because God told him his wife was there. Halina, who was never led by romance and all the heart strings of passion, was completely taken aback by his persistence. He arrived at her house every day with a gift or flowers and courted her the old-fashioned way. Every day for weeks, James asked Halina for her hand in marriage and the more he watched her cook and carry on the more he was absolutely sure he needed to be her husband. One morning in the heat of the moment, she said yes!  While moving his belongings to settle and make a nest for his upcoming nuptials, James was in a severe car accident. Although he worked very hard to be able to walk his bride down the isle, his body never truly recovered, and he too passed away leaving Halina a widow for the third time.

Halina lived her life with a song in her heart and would often break up her day to go the piano and “sing a song for Jesus”. She would literally stop what she was doing and go to the piano, open her song book and accompany herself, sometimes on the guitar or harpsichord whatever the spirit led her to play.

Halina was a woman who spoke 5 languages, she was an excellent singer, seamstress, chef, and what ever she put her mind to, she mastered.  There was always a pot of soup on the stove for anyone who visited her, and she was always generous of her time, even though she knew what tasks still needed to be done that day. Halina’s ministry was feeding her friends, and everyone was welcome to be her friend. Her passion for Christ and her regal poise gave her a demeanor which demanded respect and that is what she received from everyone.

Covid-19 hindered Halina’s 90th birthday celebration on June 22, 2019, and then the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer took her life, a life that everyone she ever met will remember or have a story of. They call her the Queen of Borscht and Halina Petelski reigns supreme in the hearts of her family to include 5 Children, 21 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and 100’s of friends with a story of their own to hold dear to their heart.

The family invites all who wish to pay their respects to join the service online by Livestream on Friday, March 5, 2021 at 1:00 pm, a recording will be available shortly thereafter (see below). Due to the current pandemic restrictions, in-person will be invite-only.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA)

If you wish to send a condolence, post photos, or share a memory please scroll down the page to the area called “Condolences”.

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Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA) Link: hospicecoha.org




  • Dr. Susan Thomas says:

    My heartfelt condolences to the family, Elizabeth, Anna and others. I will miss Halina dearly. She is truly a woman after God’s heart. Her hospitality and kindness to others are amazing! God bless you.

  • MP Tracy Gray says:

    I am very sorry for your loss and wish your family strength during this difficult time.
    Tracy Gray, Member of Parliament, Kelowna – Lake Country

  • Victoria & Nick Oud says:

    Beautiful and kind lady. She will be greatly missed. All the best to her family.

  • Sara Macintosh says:

    My love and sympathy to you Anna, and to Elizabeth, and all your family – your dear beautiful mother lived by her actions. What a truly amazing and wonderful person she was. You will give her a beautiful send off – my love to you

  • Janet Anderson says:

    Halina will be greatly missed. I am so grateful to have known her and have many fond memories. She was always so kind and gracious, with a smile on her face. She welcomed my parents and other family members into her home, and it was always a pleasure to see her. Condolences from the whole Anderson clan to all of your family.

  • Manuella Farnsworth says:

    Gracious Lady with a heart of gold, how lucky I was to share a most memorable Christmas Eve dinner and experience the majic at her home and hearth.,…and what great fortune to have had her as your loving mother or wife. May her strength live on through the many she touched. My heartfelt condolences to Elizabeth. Anna and family.. ❤️❤️❤️

  • Haven Lynch says:

    The power of the Holy Spirit is shining brightly through you sweet Anna. You are a beautiful example of His love. Through your words, through
    your music, using your gifts for the greater good, and most of all through your kindness to others. Thank you for sharing such an exquisite tribute for your Mom. Sending heartfelt condolences and much love…From my family to yours. XO

  • Debra Robinson says:

    Vayne and I are sending love and sympathy to the family. Halina has such a special place in or hearts. We will truly miss her❤️

  • Jan Johnson and Lori Burns says:

    Halina had an air of grace around her that everyone could feel. A charming and gracious woman, she was always a delight. Heaven has a beautiful new angel today

  • Lori Burns and Jan Johnson says:

    Heaven has a beauriful new angel!

  • Glenna says:

    Anna, I always loved it when i got to sit with your Mom at Jazz Cafe. She was one of the most joyful people I ever met. I remember how she used to always bake so you could have treats to sell at the events as well. She was truly a beautiful person inside and out. My sincere heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

  • Marilyne Chapman says:

    Your mom was such a regal lady. Beautiful inside and out. I was a recipient of her delicious borscht many a time and her beautiful hospitality. My sincere condolences to the family.

  • Karen Abramsen says:

    Oh my … I just read your mother’s story and she was an angel on earth! I am so so sorry for your loss .❤️🎶❤️🎶❤️🌷

  • Tim Brilz says:

    My first memories of visiting Kelowna many years ago was always a stop for a meal at Babcia’s house. We never left hungry, and her food was truly the best. She would always welcome me in as if I was one of her grandchildren. I will always remember her kind and caring nature. She will be truly missed, and I am honoured to have gotten to know her.

  • June Nicolay says:

    My love to you Anna, Andy, Elizabeth and family. Such a beautiful soul that lives on.

  • Kate says:

    I always the way you spoke about your. beautiful mum. What an amazing life she had. Sending heartfelt love to you Anna from Kate and the girls xxxxx

  • Shelly Vida says:

    Wishing my greatest condolences to Elizabeth, Anna, and family. I am grateful to have met Halina one time for a chat and a beautiful impromptu “song to Jesus” with Anna, as well as a soup for home. It is no wonder I noticed her powerful, regal and gentle prescence that day after reading this most wonderful account of her life. She had a life well lived with children and many more who adored her. May she rest in peace. 🙏 As her loving children go on to shine with her life.

  • Juanita Diwata Pio says:

    Condelences to your family sister in Christ Elizabeth in so very sad to heard your mother is now in heaven when i heard your mother is pass away my whole body are shake and im sad because your mother and your family is a great blessing in the philippines .Im Juanita Diwata Pio from now im handle Pastoring in pionnering small church in the mountain there Philippines from now the church almost 9 month old. and thank so much to your mother and your family to support in the church in the Phillipines the Lord your bless your Family and your mother is Reward in heaven Philippians 4: 7-9 God bless you Family Petelski…

  • Jennifer Moric says:

    From my heart, deep love and sympathy to you Anna, Elizabeth and family. Your Mom was an exceptional woman who made everyone around her feel loved and special. She will always be in our hearts and memories. Sending love,

  • George and Lucille Repetski says:

    We became acquainted with Helena mostly in Kelowna where Lucille’s parents lived out their retirement years (Art and Lenora Klein). We visited the Slavic Evangelical Baptist Church several times and would see the Petelskys there. They invited us to their home on several occasions. And, yes, Helena was a gracious lady ready hosting friends and strangers alike. She had a beautiful spirit in her friendliness to all with whom she met. Our deepest condolences to the family and we with you remember her warmth and Christian kindness that was evident throughout her life. George & Lucille Repetski

  • Ruth Ruddy says:

    When we visited 2 summers ago Thomas had a great visit with his pra Babcia

  • Sandra and Andrew De Pieri says:

    Dear Anna, thank you for taking the time to share this with me – your mamma’s story is truly one of a heroin in an epic saga!! It’s clear how much you loved her and how much she loved, and we pray sincerely for her soul to be at rest in Gods grace, and for you to be at peace knowing this lovely lady will always be with you <3

  • Sharon Hrycak-Pierce says:

    I was so honored to have known your Mama! There was several times I stayed with her and she was such a fantastic host. What an amazing singing voice! Anna you portrayed her so beautifully in her obituary. We will all miss her. A lovely soul!

  • Nina Hrycak Evans says:

    Daryl and I send our love and sympathy to Anna, Elizabeth, and to the entire family. We feel your deep loss. Halina became a Mom to all who spent time with her. We admired her graciousness and hospitality. With her strong faith, she had the ability to overcome hardships throughout her life, focusing on serving others in so may ways We will always remember her welcoming smile and a bottomless pot of borscht.

  • Helene says:

    Momma Petelski, beauty, grace, kindness, and strength are just a few of the words that come to mind. A life well lived that will carry on and be remembered by all those she has touched and now leaves behind. I will always cherish the memories of your heart felt Happy Birthday serenades to my wife. My thoughts and healing energy go out to all the family. She will be missed but in no way can she ever be forgotten.

  • Lídia Costa says:

    Anna, Andy, Elizabeth & family. What a beautiful life & life story you have written Anna. I believe that in life what truly matters is that we are loved and your Mom truly was. I remember her beautiful smile and the white pineapple patterned curtains in her window. She will be remembered always. Hold on to your beautiful memories 🌷❤️

  • Wendy Ord says:

    Sending much love across the miles and peace and comfort to you. What an amazing life your mother lived! What a story! Biggest hugs.

  • Gary Hubbell says:

    Doreen & I send our thoughts and prayers for your comfort during this time of loss. May our Lord Jesus surround you with his love and comfort at this time.

  • Anna Campbell says:

    Dear Anna and Eva ( family)
    Your Mom was such a special Lady!
    I remember visiting your Moms home with my Mom Hertha and Aunt Adele. Us three sisters (Eve and Loretta and I ) tagged along.
    What music we sang and great food your Mom
    prepared!!! Your Mom had such a beautiful immaculate home!.
    I remember playing for your Mom in the Russian church, on the piano there , and she was so impressed we could read Russian music us three young girls!
    Never forgot that!
    Your Mom was such a kind and thoughtful loving Lady! She spoke at my Mom’s funeral..
    Was a joy listening to her. She was so genuine and we still talk about her stories to this day!
    As I told my sisters (who will watch the memorial with me) Halina made an impact on our lives. We all saw the love she had for all people.
    We are so sorry for your Loss.
    Anna ( Eve and Loretta Rozniak)

  • Nina Hrycak Evans says:

    A special ladies lunch out for Halina’s 90th birthday.

  • Eldon Schultz says:

    Halina was a special, wonderful person, we enjoyed her love and hospitality so often. Going HOME is good for her but sad for us until we meet again. May the peace and comfort of God fill the hearts of the whole family!!! – Eldon & Marilyn Schultz

  • Alvina & Bob Cormack says:

    Your Mom & I seemed to have kindred spirits as soon as we met! She was like a sister to me and I loved her dearly and really enjoyed meeting all her family. May God comfort you all and prepare you to meet her again. Thankyou Elizabeth for your care for her and the love you show to all.

  • Lyle & Irene Horrill says:

    We will miss you when church opens the seat beside us will be empty.
    Thanks for the great memoirs . Love to the family. Keep the faith.
    Lyle & Irene and daughter Bev.

  • Susan & Tony Bologna says:

    Our deepest Condolences to all of Halina’s Family, we just watched the heartfelt service by the graveside. We wish you Gods Blessings and may you feel Peace in your heart. We Love You. Susan & Tony

  • Fritz and Kathy Hein says:

    Dear Anna and family
    We send our heartfelt condolences in the passing of your dear mother. She was truly an amazing lady. Such an example of one who went through many trials but was ever gracious and kind and giving. She lived her life well and to the full. We count ourselves blessed to have known her.

  • Susan & Tony Bologna says:

    What a wonderful service and tribute to Halina, I’m so thankful we were able to watch from our home in Niagara Falls and feel like we were with you. With Love in our hearts to you, may we all have the Faith and Joy in our hearts of Halina Petelski. Love Susan & Tony

  • Jim and Glenda Munro says:

    Our sincere condolences to all of the family. She was a lovely lady and it was our pleasure to have had the opportunity to spend time with her. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Loretta Bonkowski says:

    Hi Anna & Eva, I am quite touched by the service and very happy I was able to be a part of it (from Germany). Somehow I think your mom missed her calling as a singing movie star, and I loved hearing her singing. I also really enjoyed finally being able to hear you, Anne! The visits we had at your home were delicious (understatement), the combined dynamic of Halinka, my aunt Dello, my mom, my sisters and I and you girls was vivacious and spirited, and Halinka made me feel good about myself. Her leaving is a loss for this world, but I am sure you, her children & grandchildren, will pick up the slack Halinka style to keep spreading the love around. My condolences to you. Loretta (sister of the other Eve and Anne)

  • Marzena Grzelakowska says:

    Kochanna Anno
    Przyjmijcie proszę
    wyrazy najgłębszego współczucia i zrozumienia
    z powodu śmierci Babci.
    Marzena (London)

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