Oldest Canadian dies at age 111
By David Guy and Brendan Kennedy, Canwest News ServiceApril 26, 2009
OTTAWA - Eufrozyna Kaminski survived three years in a Siberian concentration
camp and many years in Tanzania as a postwar refugee before settling in
1950, at age 52, in Ottawa.
That is when her life became truly remarkable.
She lived 59 more years until, in the words of her niece, ``some days, it is
like God has forgotten about her.''
Born March 7, 1898, she died Thursday afternoon at age 111, surrounded by
family members, in the nursing home where she had lived the past nine years.
Though her age has not been officially verified by the international body of
gerontology, Kaminski was believed to be the second-oldest living person in
``At 4:30 (p.m.) she just stopped breathing, like the system shut down
almost,'' said her son, Jan Kaminski, 73.
Jan said his mother's mental state had deteriorated over the last few
months, and she had trouble recognizing family members.
``No matter how it is, it's such a final state in life, so we all feel sad,
'' he said. ``But then again, we know we couldn't expect much more - after
111 years, it's a long time.''
In a Polish-language interview with the Ottawa Citizen on her 109th
birthday, Kaminski - who never learned to speak English - was asked what had
been important to her:
``Your health is always important. So is your family.
``Work, that is important, but every day will bring plenty of work. You
should never worry about work because it will always find you.''
Like millions of Europeans in the 20th century, the story of her
extraordinarily long life was shaped by the terror and tumult of the Second
Kaminski was born in Gwoznica, then part of Poland, now in Belarus.
Before the Second World War, she and her husband, Kasimier Kaminski, ran a
farm with their three children in Poland.
When the Soviets invaded in 1939, the family was sent to a concentration
camp in Siberia.
``With the Germans closing in on Russia three years later, and the Soviets
now aligned with the Allies, the family was released so Kasimier could join
the Polish Army.
But her older son, Stefan, died of dysentery in a refugee camp while en
route to Poland.
They wound up in a refugee camp in Tanzania, in east Africa, before finally
emigrating to Canada in 1949.
Kasimier died in 1983, at age 89.
On Saturday, Jan said her mother's tumultuous life may have given her the
strength to live such a long life.
``She had a very hard life, so I guess that's how she survived that long -
she was tough,'' he said.
With files from Ron Corbett and Bruce Deachman
C Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
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