27 entries
  • "My mistake...I said 1983, however it was 1990. Apologies."
    - Don Nelson
  • "I had the distinct pleasure of being assigned as Sylvia's..."
    - Don Nelson
  • "I had the privilege of knowing Sylvia for many years, and..."
    - Della Summers
  • "You will be missed by all whom knew you, god bless Sylvia"
    - Jaime Svennes
  • "Sylvia will be greatly missed. She has made Canada &..."
    - Mrs Sue-Lynn Mack
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Sylvia (Syl) Olga Fedoruk, age 85, died on September 26th in Saskatoon. Her life, marked by achievements in science, athletics and public service earned her significant recognition. She was a proud Canadian with her roots firmly planted in Saskatchewan. She leaves to mourn two aunts: Annie (John) Romaniuk, Yorkton; and Mary (Fred) Romaniuk, Parksville, BC as well as cousins: Dolores (Tom) Murphy, Vancouver; Garry Vann (Carol Walker), Saskatoon; Michael (Margaret) Vann, Calgary; Alvina Romaniuk, Spruce Grove, AB; Eugene (Coby) Romaniuk, Errington, BC; Sharon (Steve) Sobkow, Calder, SK; Lawrence (Susan) Romaniuk, Kelowna; Metro (Adelaine) Romaniuk, Yorkton; Ivan & Regina Sobkow (Nicholas & Vincent), Calder, SK; Andrea Sobkow, Saskatoon; Charlotte & Bill Patterson (Jennifer), Qualicum Beach, BC; Douglas & Christine Heshka-Wolf (Ciera & Kira), Spruce Grove, AB; Sandra & Dwayne Yachiw (Samanda & Amanda), Saskatoon. Also left to mourn are many friends, especially Irene Bell and her best friend Max C. Sylvia was predeceased by her parents Theodore and Annie and her special cousin, Merylyn Vann. Sylvia was born in Canora, Saskatchewan on May 5, 1927 to Annie Romaniuk and Theodore Fedoruk. A spring blizzard struck just as Mrs. Fedoruk went into labour forcing the shorter trip to Canora hospital rather than Yorkton as they planned. The circumstances surrounding Sylvia's birth became a metaphor for managing adversity that defined the Fedoruks who, like many at the time, overcame significant hardship to become firmly established first-generation Canadians. Sylvia's early school experiences, where circumstances frequently compromised the curriculum, were balanced by personal lessons that would serve her well in her later academic pursuits. Her formal education began in a one room rural school, near Wroxton in the Yorkton area, where her father taught seventy students in grades one to eight while supervising those completing grades nine and ten by correspondence. Older students helped teach the younger ones so that by the time she was in grade five, Sylvia was helping "tutor" her younger classmates. Her father, determined to show that his daughter was not the teacher's pet, used Sylvia to set the academic and disciplinary standards for the school. Pursuing the best grades and pleasing supervisors would define her career with impressive results. In 1941 the Fedoruks moved to Windsor, Ontario where both parents found work. Canada was at war and factory wages were much higher than Theodore could earn as a rural school teacher. Here, Sylvia completed grades nine through thirteen, graduating in 1946 as the top female student at Walkerville Collegiate, earning the Ernest J. Creed Memorial Medal and a University entrance scholarship. The family returned to Saskatchewan after the war where Theodore resumed his teaching career and Sylvia enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan. She never forgot her mother's message that she complete a University education, find a satisfactory job and stick with it to earn a good pension, opportunities that had eluded the ambitious, hard-working Annie. Supported by scholarships and her parents' hard-earned savings, Sylvia obtained her B.A. with great distinction, in 1949, earning the Governor General's Gold Medal as the University's most outstanding graduate. This was followed by a four-year degree with high honours in Physics and a Masters degree in 1951. By this time, she had caught the attention of Dr. Harold Johns who recruited her to be the radiation physicist at the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic. Her work with Johns, teaching medical physics and pioneering the world's first cobalt unit to treat cancer, earned her an international reputation. By the time Sylvia retired in 1986, she was Director of Physics Services for the Saskatchewan Cancer Commission, had published 38 refereed papers and had participated in scientific presentations world-wide. She was the first female member of the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada (1973-83) and the Science Council, Canada (1973-76), was appointed an Honourary Member of the Canadian Association of Radiologists, a Fellow of the Canadian College of Physicists in Medicine and Honourary Consultant to the medical staff of Royal University Hospital where she spent her career. Her work in medical radiology earned her four honourary degrees from the University of Windsor (1987), Western Ontario (1990), Regina (1991) and Mount Saint Vincent (1993). A fifth, recognizing her career and public service contributions was awarded in 2006 by her alma mater, the University of Saskatchewan. In 1986, Sylvia was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada and received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. Her career was captured best in 1988 when she was selected to the Order of St. John, an international organization whose mission is to prevent illness and enhance the health and well- being of people throughout the world. In 2009, she was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 2012. Not bad for a girl who began her education in a one room school near Wroxton, Saskatchewan. Sylvia's public service record is as impressive as her career. Her name is found on an assortment of fifty-one directorships ranging from University of Saskatchewan contributions on the Board of Governors, the Senate and a term as Chancellor to participation in the wider community. She was a member of The Meewasin Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, and the Centennial Auditorium (TCU Place) Boards and the planning committee for the 1989 Brier. Provincially, she served on the Board of Sask. Sport and was a member of the Advisory Committee for Judicial Appointments. A term as President of the Canadian Ladies' Curling Association and on the Board of the Canadian Nurses Association enhanced her national reputation. Her varied public service contributions culminated in her appointment as Saskatchewan's seventeenth and first woman Lieutenant Governor. Like anything else she did, her 1988-1994 term was completed with dignity, warmth and distinction. She was one of Saskatchewan's most popular Lieutenant Governors. Accomplishments in science and public service were complemented by Sylvia's long-term involvement in sports. In her academic and public services roles, she was "Professor" or "Your Honour." When she arrived at the curling rink, arena, gymnasium or golf course, she became "Syl." In the days before specialization, Sylvia was an outstanding University athlete. Including four track and field championships highlighted by a 1947 Canadian record in women's javelin, she won a total of twelve intervarsity championships. In 1949 she was awarded the Spirit of Youth Trophy for outstanding accomplishments in academics and athletics. Following graduation, she turned to softball and curling with similar success. In the days before national championships, she was an infielder on the Regina Govins and the Saskatoon Ramblers 1954 and 1955 Western Canadian Championship teams. She was on curling teams skipped by Joyce McKee that won three Provincial championships and the first Canadian Championship in 1961. Golf remained an interest from her early university days through her various "retirements" where she maintained a membership at Riverside Country Club. At the University level, she remained a life-long passionate supporter of the basketball Huskies, an early arrival for games and never shy about scolding the referees. Helen Keller, author, lecturer, activist and first deaf and blind person to graduate from college more than a century ago said "I long to accomplish great and noble tasks but it is my duty to accomplish small tasks as though they were great and noble." Sylvia Fedoruk's life was marked by tasks large and small and accomplishments great and noble. We mourn her passing and celebrate her life. A State Funeral will be held in Saskatoon, SK on Friday, October 5, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at TCU Place (35 22nd Street East). A Vigil of Prayer for family and parishioners will have taken place at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church prior to the State Funeral. Committal Rites and Burial will be at Yorkton, SK with her parents. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of the donor's choice. Condolences may be sent to Arrangements entrusted to Saskatoon Funeral Home, 244-5577


Published in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2012
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