Helen Kays
Helen Kays

Obituary of Helen Madeline Kays

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Helen Madeline Kays (nee Lipka)
July 2, 1930 - October 10, 2022

     Helen Madeline Kays passed away peacefully surrounded by her family at Samaritan Place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan at the age of 92 years.

     Mom is survived and will be missed and remembered with happiness by her children,12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren: Shirley and Rene Kudel (Andrew/O'Lynda Lovas - Innis), (Thomas); Linda and David Arnot (Michael/Stephanie - Owen, Fred, Juliette, Willa), (Marie/Andy McPartlin - Francis, Beatrice), (Matthew/Janet Shulist - Martha and Daphne), (Daniel); Rita Lalonde (Elyse/Paul Dawson - Elliott, Alistair), (Ben); son-in-law Romuald Lagace (Deanna/Bryan Bernhardt - Helena, Paul/April Benolkin - Rowen ); Bud Kays/Evgenia Barovaia (Logan, Ivan), as well as brothers Stan (Kalene) Lipka and Joe Lipka; sister-in-law Marie Laberge, brother-in-law Mike (Elma) Kulasa and many nieces and nephews.

     Mom was predeceased by her husband Sam Kays, her daughter Angie Lagace, parents Joseph and Marjanna Lipka, siblings and their spouses Sophie and John Janeczko, Wanda and Frank Michnik, Ted and Alva Lipka, and son-in-law Bob Lalonde.

     Helen was born in a sod house on the farm near Fosston, Saskatchewan where her parents Joseph and Marjanna Lipka homesteaded after moving from Tuczna Poland in 1929. Her first language was Polish. Helen worked hard on the farm along with her two sisters and three brothers gardening, canning, stooking wheat, raising chickens, snaring rabbits, milking cows, riding horses and sharing a passion for music.

     Helen attended school in Fosston, Sion Academy in Saskatoon to finish high school, and received nursing training with the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Evron at St. Therese Hospital in Tisdale Sk., obtaining her Registered Nurse certification.

     Helen met her future husband Sam Kays in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan where Sam was the Rural Municipality Administrator and Hospital Board Member. He was tasked with picking up the newly recruited nurse at the Sheho train station. However, he forgot and instead she got a ride with RCMP officers. This sparked the headline in the Foam Lake Gazette: "Nurse Arrives in Squad Car!" When she arrived, Sam apologized, then asked her out on a date to a talent show. Luckily, the RCMP didn't get their girl! This was their first date. The rest is history as they fell in love, married and raised a family of twin girls, Shirley and Linda, daughters Rita and Angie and a long awaited son Bud. In Foam Lake, Helen worked as a registered nurse and then together with Sam, they operated the Blue Moon Drive-in movie theatre while Sam also completed his Chartered Life Underwriters designation with Canada Life.

     Moving to Saskatoon, Sam and Helen established their company, Saskatoon Real Estate and Insurance Co. Ltd. which they operated for many years. Mom was unique at the time - working full time as a realtor and business woman while raising a family of 5 children, and actively participating in school and church life! She was the original working mom and we marvel at how she did it all - in fact, it should have been impossible, but she did it!

     Helen was a talented cook, hosting multitudes of family gatherings and business parties. Her Vinarterta cake, light-as-air buns, delicious and perfectly made tasty perogies, are but a few of her well loved favourites enjoyed by us all. She was a smiling, welcoming hostess who opened her home to many over the years.
Helen was a Brown Owl Brownie and Girl Guide leader whose patience, creativity and kindness is fondly remembered by many now grown women who were fortunate to be in her Pack! We believe there are many tuna can pin cushions still out there to this day!

     Helen was a steadfast, long-time member of the Catholic Women's League for over 50 years where she made many friendships and supported many wonderful causes for the CWL.
Helen and Sam believed that seeing the world was important. They traveled widely, with notable trips to Spain, Morocco, Russia, Hawaii, Mexico, UK, and Europe. They took many trips to visit family in Poland, capturing events on early 8 mm movie film which have become a special family history treasure. Together with their children, Sam and Helen took many adventurous road trips throughout Canada and the United States, which was no small feat in those years of cars with no seatbelts, no air conditioning, no radio reception and five angelic children as special cargo. Trips to visit family throughout Canada took them to Vancouver, Banff and Jasper, Columbia Ice fields, Calgary, Edmonton, and Montreal. Annual summer trips were made to the Okanagan Lakes where Mom recruited her children to pick the bounty of fruit for her on-site camp canning. A journey to Expo '67 in Montreal created lasting memories and our introduction to French, Quebec culture, crepes and wonderful relatives. Memorable trips to California in 1969 included San Diego, Disneyland, a vehicle breakdown in the desert near Las Vegas, unintentional orange grove camping, and a taste of life in 1970's California.

     Our parents worked hard and played hard. They danced on Saturday nights, curled as a couple and were members of many clubs and organizations. They were married for 46 years until Sam's passing in 1999. Together Sam and Helen were always proud of their children's and grandchildren's accomplishments. Although they never fully retired, they built a home in Chandler, Arizona where as snowbirds they enjoyed golf, tennis and forged many lifelong friendships. Helen learned to play golf, tennis and shuffleboard at the age of 62. Helen enjoyed singing, playing both guitar and piano. Mom joined the Sunbird Choir and was a proud member of the Canadian Club at Sunbird Golf Resort.

     Mom taught us to have fun, enjoy and take pride in the work you choose to do. Her friendly smile welcomed all. As a resident in Samaritan Place, she continued to be happy, friendly, smiling, positive, and a caring "nurse" to others. Mom loved visiting with the students of Sr. Kateri school. Their hand made cards and crafts always made her smile.

     A special thanks to Samaritan Place, chaplains, doctors, staff and care aides who are all genuinely loving and giving caregivers. So amazing. A special thanks to nurse Debi, Chantelle, Evan, Rachel, Emma and all the other aides from previous years of care - Rosalie, Lillian, Melodie and so many more, who would care and sing with Mom. Also Tammy Reihl for communicating Mom's activities and sharing funny "sayings" to keep us connected to Mom's life in long-term care. Our favourite - Helen dropping a dish in the dining room and loudly yelling "OPA!" with a smile on her face and shoulder shrug "Ce la Vie!"

     May we all learn the ability to look for laughter even in the last years of our lives.A Life Well Lived!

     The Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday, October 21, 2022 at Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church, 114 Kingsmere Place, beginning at 1:00 pm. Rite of Committal will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery. For those wishing to view the service on livestream, the link will be at www.saskatoonfuneralhome.com where condolences for the family may also be left.

     Flowers are gratefully declined. Please consider a donation to Samaritan Place Attn: Karen at 306-986-1460 ext 1404, 375 Cornish Rd. Saskatoon, Sk S7T 0P3 or online CanadaHelps Samaritan Place Saskatoon:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/samaritanplace/ or the charity of your choice.

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