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Benjamin DOLISZNEY Obituary (2022) – St. Catharines, ON

BENJAMIN WALTER DOLISZNY QC Benjamin Walter Doliszny died peacefully at his home in St. Catharines, Ontario on January 30, 2022, in his 99th year. Although loved and will be missed, Ben lived a full life and we want to share and celebrate his remarkable story. At the age of 6, Ben crossed the Atlantic from his native Ukraine as an unaccompanied minor to become a resident of one of Toronto’s immigrant neighborhoods. He held summer jobs that shaped his sense of self, including: serving as a kitchen boy at the Bigwin Inn; milking cows as a farm laborer on a dairy farm outside of Toronto; and, bagging groceries. He was an avid football player (and former student) at several Canadian universities. Despite a few false starts, he eventually became an excellent lawyer known for his honesty and wise advice. Throughout his adventures, Ben has focused on his family and his beloved Ukrainian community. He was a generous, fun-loving storyteller with an encyclopedic memory of interesting events that marked his life, especially his early years in Ukraine and Toronto. Ben was born on April 3, 1923 in Yabloniv, then part of Poland, now Ukraine. After immigrating to Canada, her family settled in the Junction Triangle neighborhood of Toronto. Here he attended Perth Avenue Elementary School and Bloor Collegiate Institute. He quickly developed his love and affinity for the Ukrainian Catholic Church and embraced its Ukrainian heritage. Ben loved his new life as a Canadian and took advantage of everything it had to offer, remaining a proud Ukrainian Canadian all his life! During his youth, Ben attended the Ukrainian school “Prosvita” and engaged in Ukrainian dance, youth choirs and theater groups. Gentle Ben, as he was known, was a 6’4′ mighty man with a soft heart (unless you pitted him on the grill). He was a natural athlete, playing baseball, basketball, hockey and football on numerous high school, community (1942 Toronto Oakwood Indians) and college teams (1947-1948 University of Toronto Varsity Blues’ Football team, 1949 -1952 Queen’s University Golden Gaels Football). He played competitive squash and handball and was a keen golfer. Ben was a longtime member of the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club. After his playing days were over, he enjoyed watching all the televised sporting events, especially CFL football. Ben loved to dance and, as a young man, frequented Toronto’s many dance pavilions, including the Palais Royale, Palace Pier and Sunnyside Pavilion. When he regaled us with big band stories, seeing Duke Ellington, you could almost hear the band playing. Ben loved to read and began each day by scanning the sports and obituaries sections of the Globe and Mail and the St. Catharines Standard. Even late in life, he remained curious and interested in the wider world. Upon his discharge from the Royal Canadian Army in 1946, Ben enrolled in law at the University of Toronto, where his interest in academics took precedence over his love of football. It was also that year, at a conference of young Ukrainian Catholics in Winnipeg, that Ben’s life changed when he met Mary Wityk, a nurse in training who was to become his wife. With Mary as his partner, motivation and guide, he enrolled at Queen’s University and then Dalhousie University where he successfully completed his law degree. After being called to the bar of Nova Scotia and Ontario in 1955, he and Mary moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, where he practiced law for 36 years. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1973 and later sat in Small Claims Court. Between 1956 and 1959, Ben and Mary welcomed 3 children – Bonnie, Kathie and Gregory, who would become the center of their lives. Through Ukrainian pursuits such as Saturday School (Ridna Shkola), Plast dance and scouting, music lessons, sports, and road trips to Florida, their family thrived in St. Catharines. In 1979, Mary opened a boutique, Ukrainian Treasures, and Ben became an honorary salesperson and ambassador of Ukrainian culture. He took every opportunity to educate shop visitors about Ukrainian culture, history, religion and politics. Ben was a loving and supportive husband and father, a devoted dido to his grandchildren, and a respected and admired uncle, friend and colleague. His wisdom, advice and counsel were sought by many. Ben has worked tirelessly for the Ukrainian community. He has held various positions at the international, national, provincial and local levels. He was a member of the Executive Council of the Ukrainian World Congress, national president of the Ukrainian Catholic Council of Canada (1968-1971), long-term president of the St. Catharines branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, active member and legal adviser for Sts. Cyril and Methodius of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of St. Catharines, president of the Ukrainian Catholic Fellowship of St. Catharines, as well as a member of the organization’s national executive. Ben was President of the Ukrainian Professionals and Businessmen’s Club (Niagara Region) and a member of the Ukrainian seniors’ organization, Myrhorod. He was the secretary of Branch 427 of the Ukrainian National Association for many years. He was a founding member of the St. Catharines Folk Art’s Council and served on the board for over 10 years. For these many contributions, Ben was awarded the Shevchenko Medal which is the highest form of recognition bestowed by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Ben was not only a committed advocate for all things Ukrainian, he was also very involved in local, municipal and provincial community organizations, as well as various charities and service organizations and clubs in the area of St. Catharines and Niagara. He was a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus. In recognition of his contributions to the community, Ben was awarded the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship in 1979 and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2003. Ben was predeceased by his beloved wife of 57 years, Mary ( Wityk) in 2007. He is fondly remembered by his beloved children, Bonnie, Kathie (Stephen Archer) and Greg (Julie) and; adoring grandchildren, Melana (Erik Reiersen) and Thomas Tysowsky, Elizabeth, Benjamin and Anya Archer and Matthew (Marianne Holovach) and Luke (Gabrielle) Doliszny; sisters-in-law Ludmilla Wityk and Judy Farrell; nieces and nephews, Michael (Kim) Kuchar, Jeanne (Philip Sissons, deceased) Kuchar, Laryssa (Yuri) Tarnowecky, Michael (Christine) Wityk, Sean (Kelli Adams) Wityk, Tim Wityk, David Wityk; and grandnieces and nephews. Ben was also predeceased by his parents, his sister Patricia Kuchar, his brothers-in-law John and Peter Wityk and his nephew, Peter Kuchar. The family would like to sincerely thank Ben’s caregiver, Joan Longos, the Linhaven Adult Day Program staff and the many personal support workers for their care and compassion. Visitation will be Thursday, March 24, 2022 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with Panachyda at 7:00 p.m. in Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church. A Memorial Mass with ashes present will be held at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church on Friday, March 25, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow at Victoria Lawn Cemetery. All guests must present proof of dual Covid-19 vaccinations to attend the tour, including photo ID as per current Ontario mandates. If desired, memorial donations can be made to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress or a charity of your choice. Ben’s online memories and stories can be shared at CCBSCares.ca

Published by The Globe and Mail from February 5 to 9, 2022.

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.