We Remember

ZARUBA, Olga Dagmar

April 21, 1937 — March 28, 2023

On Tuesday, March 28, 2023, after a nice lunch with Jerry and daughter Linda, Olga left us suddenly.  She leaves behind Jerry, her husband and best friend of 66 years; her brother Paul (Barbara) Kyselka of Peterborough; and her children David (Bonnie) Zaruba of North Vancouver, Linda (Craig) Gronsdahl of Kelowna, and Dana (Olivier) Zaruba of Normandy, France.  She also leaves her four grandchildren Paul Zaruba of Abbotsford, Adam Zaruba of Victoria, Stefan (Caitlin) Gronsdahl of Nanaimo, and Sasha (Aldous) Gronsdahl of Whitehorse.

Olga was born in Turnov, Czechoslovakia and her early years were spent in the shadow of war.  Her father Joseph Kyselka, a lawyer, was arrested by the SS for the crime of possessing gold and valuables left in his care by his Jewish clients and friends.  Luckily, Joseph was able to return to the family as the war ended and in 1948 the Kyselka family escaped communist controlled Czechoslovakia in a harrowing, clandestine dash to freedom.  They eventually found their way to Toronto and started their new life as fiercely proud Canadians.  While attending secretarial school, Olga met Jerry, a dashing newly arrived Czech, 11 years her senior.  Jerry and Olga were soon married, and David, Linda and Dana were all born in Toronto.  Olga spent summer holidays with the children at their cottage on Christian Island on Lake Huron, with Jerry making the 4-hour drive each weekend.  These were such happy times, as her parents and good family friends also had cottages on the same beach.

After falling in love with BC on a holiday, they left Ontario in 1967 and moved to West Vancouver.  They loved the outdoors and quickly embraced an active BC lifestyle.  Summers were spent sailing on their 28ft boat Lorelei and playing tennis at Hollyburn Country Club.  Winters were for skiing at Whistler Mountain, where they built a cozy cabin.  Olga was a model of efficiency and organization.  She worked full time with Jerry in their business, Lonsdale Dental Ceramics, becoming a Dental Technician herself.  She managed the household and the activities of the children and rarely if ever put a takeout meal on the table.  Olga was a no-nonsense parent, and idle children were soon assigned chores.  Olga was industrious and thrifty, and every year would freeze, can and make jam and pickles with produce from local farms.  Her sweet garlic dills were legendary.  She was also an accomplished sewer, who passed on this skill to her daughters.

In 1990, Jerry and Olga retired and followed Linda and Craig to Kelowna. They renovated an old home with a large yard, and her grandkids spent many happy hours in their pool and enjoyed many delicious meals from her bountiful garden.  Olga believed in fresh, simple, local ingredients well before they became fine dining buzzwords.  She was a wonderful baker.   She delighted her family with Czech breads and Christmas cookies and amazing birthday cakes. Jerry and Olga continued to play tennis and joined Shannon Lake Golf Club, becoming avid golfers.  They loved entertaining and their home was filled with joy and the laughter of their friends and family.

Jerry and Olga travelled extensively in their retirement.  They wandered around Europe in their Westphalia and Olga was delighted to reconnect with relatives from the Czech Republic.  They travelled in their 5th wheel throughout North America, with Palm Springs a favourite destination. Later they discovered glorious New Zealand and spent 8 years there escaping our winters.

Due to health and mobility concerns, they had recently relocated to Missionwood Retirement Resort and quickly came to appreciate not having to cook and clean any longer.

Olga was a confident and assertive woman who had a laugh that could be heard for miles.  She was never afraid to share her opinion and was – much to her children’s chagrin – often right. She imparted many life lessons to her children, for which they are forever thankful. Olga will be missed and remembered with love by her family.  Rest free from pain dear Olinka.

A private interment will be held at a later date.

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