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In loving memory of Mary Jane Podanowski who was born in Boho, County Roscommon, Ireland on April 3, 1930 to Thomas and Annie Curran (nee Lavin) and passed peacefully in Vernon, B.C. on Friday, October 13, 2017. One of her first jobs as a child was to harness up the pony and cart to deliver the midwife to the various households in need. From this experience she no doubt gained skills that she put to use to deliver her twin brothers, as well as later to deliver the various creatures on the farm.

Mom left home and went to Bray, County Wicklow where she worked as a housemaid and waitress. After a few years of that, Mom convinced the local post mistress in Dublin to forge a parental permission slip allowing herself to cross the water over to Birmingham, England where she eventually found employment in a bullet factory. In 1949 while out at the local roller skating rink, she fell down and was rescued by a Polish soldier, Franciszek (Frank) Podanowski. They were married on September 17, 1949 in Birmingham. As part of the custom, the priest handed Dad a coin to keep for the rest of their lives so that they would not be penniless. Dad used it to pay for the taxi back from the Church. It didn’t seem to have too great of a negative effect on their financial lives. In 1950, not wanting to give birth to a British subject, Mom returned to her parents’ home in Castlerea, County Roscommon to have their first child, Yozef (Joe).

Things looked pretty bleak after the war and emigration seemed the best chance for the young family. They had a choice of three places to go: Australia, America or Canada. With a baby son, Mom and Dad didn’t want Joe to be drafted in the US Army and the passage to Australia was slightly more expensive, so in March 1952 the little family boarded the M.V. Georgic and landed like so many immigrants of the time at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

They spent a brief period in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), Ontario where Frank worked in the grain elevator until he was left jobless due to labour strike. A distant Polish relative had written and told them about a perfect place where the family could have acreage, animals, gardens and orchards – the Okanagan, specifically Vernon. They arrived by train and waited to be greeted by the Polish community. Mom would later recount how hungry she was for the beautiful plums hanging on the tree, but she didn’t dare touch them. Later she would be shocked that in this bountiful land, that very fruit was allowed to drop on the ground to be eaten by the cows. Irish Mary would soon learn to make Frank’s favorites: cabbage rolls and perogies – Dad called them size 8 shoe size. She would have us kids lined up like factory workers producing the perogies by the hundreds. When Dad came home he could hardly contain his excitement: “Thank you, thank you Mary, I didn’t even dream about perogies today.” Mom and dad often spent their wedding anniversary making 300lbs of sauerkraut for the perogies.

Wanda was born in 1953 – almost at the Armstrong Fair. When Mary went into labour with Eileen she calmly drove home, picked Frank up and drove HIM to the hospital. Sheila was next, followed by the only planned child of the five kids: Maureen. Mom said that in 1967 all Canadians were supposed to have a Centennial Project – theirs was Maureen.

As immigrants, the banks refused to lend them money, so they borrowed money from a local fellow who knew how hard immigrants were willing to work. They bought their first house on 39th Avenue and eventually acquired other properties and sponsored many of Mom’s younger siblings to come to Canada. She became a Canadian Citizen as soon as she could, but almost didn’t get the papers when she refused to swear allegiance to the Queen.

Mom and Dad’s house was remodeled to include a party room which could seat 85 for dinner. There were many celebrations, including the annual O’Podanowski’s St. Patrick’s Day party that started at noon and went to Midnight. Life is meant to be celebrated!

Although somewhat successful, the farm was most fruitful in Mom’s Miniature Schnauzer venture, which had a better return on investment than Dad’s cattle operation. It was a friendly competition. After being forced to move off the farm due to her Parkinson’s Disease, Mom loved to go to the local dog park during “schnauzer hour” to see her pups playing.
Mom is survived by her children: Joe and Eileen; Wanda (Ed) Yamada; Sheila (Robin) Procter; and Maureen James. She is further survived by her precious grandchildren: Cara Brockman, Janelle & Steven Gallacher; Clayton & Sean James; Evandro & Hayley Procter; great-grandchildren: Tyson, Jordan, Madison, Matthew, Kai and Keira. In addition, Mom is survived by her very best friends, Herta & Danny Pospischil who have been part of our family since the 1950s.
Mom is further survived by her siblings: Mike (Helen) Curran of Kelowna; Katie (Billy) Ryan; Tommy (Pauline) Curran; Eddie Curran; Geraldine Daly in Ireland and two inlaws: Gene Goll & Kathleen Curran. As expected she is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Mom was predeceased by our Dad, Frank on August 31, 1991; her siblings: Infants Raymond & Thaddeus, Liz Goll; Anne Obermeier; Johnnie Curran; Peggie Curran; Bridie Luczka; and in-laws Goretti Curran, Ben Obermeier and Joe Daly.

Mom lived at Good Samaritan Heron Grove for the past seven years where she was treated with love and respect. We thank you Heron Grove for making Mom’s last years so pleasant and for the support shown to us during Mom’s final days.

Graveside Service at the family plot in Coldstream Cemetery on October 19, 2017 at 1pm. Celebration of Life to follow at Army & Navy Air Force, 2500 46th Ave, Vernon, BC.

Condolences can be sent to the family by visiting www.pleasantvalleyfh.com to Pleasant Valley Funeral Services 250-542-4333

Arrangements entrusted to Pleasant Valley Funeral Services

Link: www.pleasantvalleyfh.com