At the age of 80, on Sept. 26, 2007, Walentina Denisovna Jarosz died from complications of stomach cancer. Her last weeks and hours were spent amidst the care and presence of her family and the grace and expertise of Bozeman Deaconess Hospice.
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Walentina, the daughter of Denis and Antonina Rudiuk, was born on Oct. 15, 1926, in a single-room, straw-roofed house in Andrushevka, a typical Ukrainian village.
During World War II, at the age of 16, she was conscripted into three and half years of forced labor in Germany. At the war's end, Walentina chose to enter a displaced persons' camp in Mittenvald, Germany, rather than return to the harsh conditions in postwar Ukraine.
There she met and married Wasyl Lukeonovitch Jarosz, also a Ukrainian refugee.
In 1949, Lucy Jarosz was born in the nearby hospital in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In 1950, Walentina, Wasyl and Lucy, emigrated from Mittenwald through Ellis Island to Bozeman.
Upon their arrival by train, Wasyl and Walentina were hired as farm workers on the land currently occupied by the Red Barn and the Hastings Shopping Center. Walentina also worked washing dishes on the night shift at Colonel's Drive-In located just east of Lindley Park.
Their daughter, Joyce, was born in 1953 and son, William, in 1956.
Walentina embraced the new culture around her with an unquenchable curiosity and generosity. Neighbors and friends were greeted with trays of delectable cookies and breads at Christmas, flowers in the spring and garden vegetables and fruits in the summer.
Walentina worked as a Baker for Montana State University's Food Service for 28 years, earning a nomination as one of MSU's top five employees in 1991. Her recommendation stated, "Walentina takes a large institutional setting and turns out a product that is consistently the quality of a small, fine European bakery."
After her retirement, Walentina continued to stay busy as a part-time employee at Wendy's in Bozeman. As a dining hostess, she prided herself on a spotless dining room and excellent customer service. Her favorite task was handing out balloons and mints. She was awarded Employee of the Year Award in 1994 and 1995 from Wendy's of Montana.
In 1999, through the efforts of a visiting teacher from Russia, Walentina discovered her brother and three sisters were still alive in Ukraine. At 73, Walentina flew to the newly independent Ukraine and reunited with her four remaining siblings and their families after 57 years of separation.
Walentina stayed in contact with her family through frequent telephone conversations and long letters. Walentina leaves behind constant reminders of her loving spirit and energetic, unfaltering work ethic.
Survivors include her husband of 62 years, Wasyl Jarosz; her daughter, Lucy Jarosz, of Seattle; her daughter, Joyce Jarosz Hannula, and son-in-law, Rick Hannula, of Bozeman; her son, William Jarosz, and daughter-in-law, Julie Jarosz, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; and four grandchildren: Aleksander, Nicholas, and Kira Jarosz and Kara Valentina Hannula. The list would not be complete without her companion, Lilly, a Shih Tzu, who brought her much comfort and joy and was adopted from the Heart of the Valley Humane Society.
The family is grateful to Darcy Saunders and Gary and Greg Krall of Cottonwood Care and the compassionate, skilled and supportive staff of Bozeman Deaconess Hospice. Special thanks go to Julie, Pat, Meghan, Kelly and Bill.
A memorial service will be held on Dec. 30. The location and time will be announced at a later date.
Memorials in Walentina Jarosz's name can be sent to the Worthy Student Scholarship Fund, PO Box 520, Bozeman, MT 59771. These donations will create a student scholarship to be awarded to a graduating senior who has demonstrated academic excellence while prevailing over difficulties.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Sept. 30, 2007