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Abbotsford senior celebrates 100 years

Elisabeth Rogalsky was born in Ukraine in 1914 and raised two boys and four girls with her husband. - Dave MacDonald
Elisabeth Rogalsky was born in Ukraine in 1914 and raised two boys and four girls with her husband.
— image credit: Dave MacDonald

Elisabeth Rogalsky of Abbotsford celebrated her 100th birthday on Feb. 11 with a party at the Hallmark on the Park seniors’ residence.

Elisabeth was born in Ukraine in 1914, into a family of four boys.

Her father was drafted to join the war effort at that time, and returned three years later. Their time together was cut tragically short, however; her father was murdered in the revolution that closely followed the war.

When Elisabeth was nine years old, her mother remarried and a blended family of 15 children was formed.

In 1926, three of the family’s oldest sons were sent to Canada, and a few months later, the remainder of the family travelled to England.

All carried on to Canada except Elisabeth and two brothers, who had been diagnosed with trachoma. A week later, her brothers were allowed to travel to Canada, leaving 12-year-old Elisabeth on her own in Britain.

She lived for a month in a cordoned-off area of an airplane hangar with other detainees. She spoke only German.

Later, the trachoma diagnosis was rescinded – apparently this was often done to try to extract bribes – and she was allowed to board a ship to Canada.

The ship docked in Quebec, and from there, the train brought Elisabeth to Winnipeg to reunite with her family.

When she was 22, she moved to Calgary to work as a housemaid.

A few years later, she met her husband, a trucker, and they were married in 1939.

Soon after, they began their family, and moved onto a 165-acre farm.

Life was grueling – her husband was often on the road, and Elisabeth carried the load of raising children and working the farm on her own.

The couple had six children – two boys and four girls.

Elisabeth and her husband moved to B.C. when she was 57 years old, and she began what became a decade of work in the kitchen at the Bible School in Clearbrook.

Her husband passed away in 1979 and Elisabeth moved to an Abbotsford condo, where she lived for 23 years.

She found her pleasure in singing, reading and a bit of travel.

She sang in the Bakerview choir until she was 84, and made sure that she didn’t miss a choir tour.

She moved into a Hallmark retirement residence in 2005, and still loves outings. Most recently, at the age of 99, she happily joined a group of Hallmark residents and staff for a trip to Keats Island.

Elisabeth now has 17 grandchildren and about 50 great-grandchildren.

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