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"OPA" 2005 Obituary


OPACAK o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-10-21 published
McDONALD, Carol Ann (née PAILING)
Suddenly in Val-Morin, Quebec on Sunday, October 16th, 2005, in her 67th year. Carol, beloved daughter of the late Ivan and Isobel PAILING. Loving sister of Diane and husband Gary TERRELL of Orillia. Dear aunt of Shawna TERRELL and Claudio OPACAK of Goodwood and Philip TERRELL and Tammera SEYFFER of Toronto. Sadly missed by many cousins in Thessalon and the Niagara Falls area. The family will receive Friends at the Mundell Funeral Home, 79 West St. N., Orillia from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Saturday. Funeral service will be held on Sunday, October 23rd, 2005 at 2 o'clock in the chapel. Cremation to follow. If desired, memorial donations to the charity of your choice would be appreciated by the family. Messages of condolence are welcomed at

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OPALEYCHUK o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-10-05 published
Suddenly on Tuesday, October 4, 2005 surrounded by her family, at Southlake Regional Health Centre. Beloved wife of Gerry of Sutton. Loving and cherished mother of Mark DEROUIN (Jill) of Dundas, Laura THERRIEN (Chris) of Pefferlaw, Kevin, Traci, Pamella, and Matthew at home. Cherished sister of Dr. Clyde OPALEYCHUK of Alban, Michael OPALEYCHUK (Gail) of Toronto, and Lyn MULLINS (Greg) of Thunder Bay. Loving aunt of many nieces and nephews. Predeceased by her parents, Mike and Pauline OPALEYCHUK of Sudbury. Wife, mother and friend, Judy was an extraordinary woman with many talents. She will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her. Visitation at the Taylor Funeral Home, Sutton, on Thursday, October 6, 2005 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral Mass will be celebrated in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 20916 Dalton Road, Sutton, Friday, October 7, 2005 at 1: 00 p.m. Cremation to follow. Donations to the Church of Immaculate Conception would be appreciated by the family.

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OPALINSKA o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-04-26 published
Peacefully, at St. Joseph's Hospital on April 22nd, 2005, at age 85. Dear mother of Eve and her husband Zbigniew POSPIESZYNSKI. Loving grandmother of Jakob and Chris. Unfailingly optimistic, energetic and brilliant, Halina was a master of human kindness. She will be sadly missed and joyfully remembered by her family and many Friends in Canada and Poland. Resting at the Dodsworth & Brown Ancaster Chapel, 378 Wilson Street East, Ancaster on Thursday, April 28 from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Mass at Saint Ann's Church, 11 Wilson Street West, Ancaster on Friday, April 29 at 11 a.m.

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OPALKA o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.toronto_star 2005-09-16 published
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of John, at the St. Joseph's Health Centre, on September 13, 2005. Longtime dedicated employee of the Toronto Transit Commission Streetcar Division. Companion of Pearl MacNEILLY. Cherished brother of Mrs. Lucja KSIAZCZAK of Poland. Loving uncle of Mrs. Teresa OPALKA of Poland. Dearest friend of Mr. Sheikh ALI and his wife Angela, Mr. Roy SOOROOJANUTH and his wife Janet, and Mrs. Krystyna SZYMANISKA. John will be fondly remembered and sadly missed by all who knew him. Friends will be received at the Cardinal Funeral Home "Earle Elliott Chapel" (715 Dovercourt Road, Ossington subway - Delaware exit), on Friday, September 16, 2005 from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. A complete Funeral Service will be held in the Cardinal Funeral Home Chapel on Saturday, September 17, 2005 at 11 a.m. Cremation. In loving memory of John, donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be appreciated by the family. Online condolences at

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OPANUBI o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2005-12-02 published
Magnus ELIASON, Politicial Organizer: (1911-2005)
He joined the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation the year it was founded and became a gifted backroom planner who groomed such up-and-comers as Ed SCHREYER
By Sabitri GHOSH, Special to The Globe and Mail, Friday, December 2, 2005, Page S9
Kingston, Ontario -- In 1957, officials at Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation headquarters were looking for somebody to drive Magnus ELIASON. It was one nomination that Ed SCHREYER, then an ambitious young politico, would rather not have got.
"Frankly, I thought it was going to be a drag, driving around a political organizer," Mr. SCHREYER said. "At the age of 20, I had other things in mind."
But the white-haired éminence grise -- who was severely visually impaired as a result of congenital albinism -- turned out to be no ordinary passenger. As Mr. SCHREYER drove him through the Manitoba countryside, he cracked picaresque jokes, told stories from Norse mythology, and recounted stirring anecdotes from his days as an original Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation member.
"He was such a marvellous, marvellous storehouse of knowledge and so entertaining as a raconteur that, after that first chore, I genuinely volunteered to drive him around," Mr. SCHREYER said. They talked so much, added the former Manitoba premier and governor-general, "we never turned the radio on once."
Though his own résumé as a politician was limited, Mr. ELIASON played a singular role in the rise of the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation and its successor, the New Democratic Party, through tireless organizing and nurturing political talent like Mr. SCHREYER, who described him as a "tremendous influence on my early life."
The son of Icelandic immigrants, Mr. ELIASON heard of the 1932 founding of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation while homesteading with his brothers in Sunnybrook, British Columbia An immediate convert, he became one of the party's most zealous missionaries, preaching its program of socialism and full employment as he freight-hopped during the Depression in search of work. In March of 1935, he went on a proselytizing trek across northern British Columbia and Alberta, walking to every farm in a 60-kilometre radius to drop off Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation pamphlets and spread the party's message. By his calculation, he achieved a 65-per-cent success rate.
As Mr. ELIASON's activism grew, the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation hired him as an organizer to reinforce its Prairie base. His tactical savvy and attention to detail proved critical in winning Tommy Douglas a second term as Saskatchewan premier during a close 1956 campaign.
"Magnus could walk into a room and know where everybody was and who they were, and zero right in, find out just what the details were," said Jim MALOWAY, Mr. ELIASON's long-time business partner. "So if he wanted them to come to a meeting, he would have their name and phone number and the time they were home, and then organize a car to go pick them up. You can't beat a guy with organizational ability like that."
In 1958, Mr. ELIASON returned to his native Manitoba to work full-time for the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation national office. Over the next decade, he more than tripled party memberships in the province. A born marketer, he loved going to people's homes, setting out the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation platform as tangibly as he would demonstrate the merits of no-rip nylons or encyclopedia sets in his erstwhile career as a door-to-door salesman.
"He loved sales and getting directly to the sales pitch in a way that would just make me cringe," Mr. SCHREYER said. "But most of the time, it worked."
One winter, Mr. SCHREYER said, he drove Mr. ELIASON to a tumbledown farm -- "the farmer was chopping ice in the water trough for his livestock; you could see he was just struggling, financially" and watched with consternation as Mr. ELIASON unloaded his high-powered sales pitch.
"He probably was pleased that he could afford $5 to help out a people's movement," Mr. ELIASON later said when Mr. SCHREYER remonstrated with him. "Besides, you can't build a viable political party... on sentiment alone."
While unwavering, Mr. ELIASON's loyalty to the party was not unquestioning. By his own admission, he "entertained some doubts about the political wisdom" of amalgamating with the Canadian Labour Congress to form the New Democratic Party in 1961. At the New Democratic Party's inaugural leadership convention, he went against the party mainstream again, unsuccessfully supporting Hazen Argue over Mr. Douglas.
Convinced the party would lose Saskatchewan if Mr. Douglas left for Ottawa, Mr. ELIASON saw its subsequent defeat there as unwelcome vindication. "In politics," he said in his 1997 memoir, A Life on the Left, "I often sense a lot of things in my bones."
Mr. ELIASON's political intuition astounded Mr. MALOWAY, a Manitoba Member of Legislative Assembly since 1986. "He could predict the number of seats in an election campaign down to one or two. He used to phone me before an election and say, 'Well, Jim, I think you guys are going to get 13, or 20,' or whatever it was: He just had a great ability to sense this stuff."
In the mid-1960s, certain that Mr. SCHREYER was the key to an New Democratic Party victory in Manitoba, Mr. ELIASON secured an agreement from party leader Russ PAULLEY to resign in favour of the young member of Parliament. When Sid GREEN threatened to thwart his plan by contesting the leadership, he helped Mr. PAULLEY stave off the challenge. His protégé's ascension to party leader in 1969, followed by his election later that year as Manitoba's first New Democratic Party premier, marked the high point of Mr. ELIASON's career.
Domestically, the long-time bachelor had also found another kind of perfect candidate: nurse and New Democratic Party supporter Catherine MacFARLANE, whom he married in 1965.
Mrs. ELIASON's niece, Wanda OPANUBI, felt Mr. ELIASON -- the consummate political organizer -- craved someone who could bring order to his chaotic home life. "Magnus was the child of the marriage," she said. "He was not only the husband, but the kid, and he did need a certain amount of care."
Backed by his wife, Mr. ELIASON finally realized some of his most long-standing ambitions. He bought an New Democratic Party colleague's insurance company and became a respected businessman. Then, in 1968, he won a seat on Winnipeg City Council representing a downtown ward. Championing revitalization of the urban core and the preservation of heritage buildings, he served five terms before retiring in 1989.
It was the only public office Mr. ELIASON ever held. Decades earlier, he had run for alderman in Vancouver, but managed to repel both poles of the 1940s electorate by defending Japanese Canadians' right to vote while simultaneously disavowing communism.
"He had a streak of idealism," Mr. SCHREYER said, "but he often spoke of the need to temper that with reality. He used the word a lot: 'reality,' along with 'common sense,' 'logic' and 'analysis.'"
Mr. ELIASON's deference to reality caused the two men -- who "had a tendency to agree on just about every issue," Mr. SCHREYER said -- to disagree on one point. Mr. SCHREYER believed a party should never expel its members under any circumstances, especially on policy, while Mr. ELIASON thought it was sometimes necessary for the sake of party unity.
Mr. SCHREYER found it ironic, then, when Mr. ELIASON started taking positions contrary to the party line on issues such as abortion. In recent years, his commanding baritone could often be heard at New Democratic Party gatherings projecting a sharply dissident voice. "I know it irritated some folks," Mr. SCHREYER said, "but I admired him all the more for it."
The same fearlessness also characterized Mr. ELIASON as a salesman and canvasser. He liked to quip, "An adventure lies behind every door."
Mrs. OPANUBI offered his family's explanation for it: "He couldn't read expressions on people's faces. So he just kept on going."
Ultimately, Mr. ELIASON's readiness to come face to face with anyone or anything nearly killed him. On his business's busiest day of 1978 -- the province's February deadline for renewing car insurance -- he was working late into the night at his home office. "We closed at 6 o'clock," Mr. MALOWAY said, "but there would always be people coming by to insure their cars who would show up at 7, 8, 9 o'clock, and he would help them: He was extremely customer-friendly and would never turn a customer away."
Hindered by his near-blindness, Mr. ELIASON inadvertently opened the door to a gunman, who threatened to kill him unless his wife handed over their money. The couple survived the experience physically unharmed but emotionally brutalized.
What happened next was almost as extraordinary. The usually voluble Mr. ELIASON never spoke of the traumatic incident with anyone except his niece and business partner. Nor did his Friends detect even a subtle shift in his personality or political views: On crime, he continued to argue, as always, for rehabilitation over retributive justice. And he still opened his door whenever people came calling.
Magnus ELIASON was born in Arnes, Manitoba, on June 21, 1911.
He died after a brief illness in Winnipeg on November 11, 2005. He was predeceased by his wife.

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