August 21, 1946 – November 20, 2021
At her residence in Comox, British Columbia, after a lengthy illness our beloved mother, grandmother, sister and friend died, at 75 years old. Her children Carolyn and Richard, and grandson Luc were beside her. She was predeceased by her husband Jack (John) Kostyk in March of 2019. She said her good-byes to everyone in her immediate family, and left us to join our father, who she had sorely missed.
She was born in Hawk Junction, Ontario, but lived the majority of her life in northern Manitoba in the communities of Lynn Lake, The Pas/Clearwater Lake, and Thompson, before retiring with Jack to Comox in 2007.
Barbara was only 8 months old when Tom and Marie Stephens moved from Josephine, Ontario, to the upstart mining town of Lynn Lake where mom and her siblings Linda and Jack lived until she was 13. Their life was quite primitive in the beginning, and they lived simply, but it was the perfect place to grow up as it was a small, safe community, where one knew everyone else, and where kids roamed freely outdoors all-day winter or summer.
The family left idyllic Lynn Lake for The Pas when mom was 13 and it was there that she finished her schooling and graduated from The Pas Collegiate in 1964. She met dad at school and the two dated seriously. Mom attended the University of Manitoba studying interior design, then decided to marry Jack on April 7, 1966. They moved north to Thompson as dad had a job with Malcolm Construction. In 1972 Dad formed his own company and they built their business, Jax Mechanical Services, and ended up staying for a lot longer in Thompson than they originally planned. They loved the north and its beauty, fresh air, and vast forested stands of trees and felt it was the ideal place to raise their family. While there they built 3 houses from the ground up; mom was the interior decorator and dad was the carpenter. They also helped each of their children build a house; one in Thompson for Carolyn’s family and one in The Pas for Richard’s family. They also built a new cottage at Clearwater Lake at the site of the former cabin built by Barb’s father, Tom Stephens.
Mom’s life was centered around her family. She ran the household and helped run the business while we grew up busy with our various activities. Northern living agreed with our mom, and she loved being outside. We enjoyed many family outings in the bush in all of the seasons gathering wood, picnicking, and having wiener roasts, skating parties in winter, finding the perfect Christmas trees, examining rocks and fossils, sliding, cross country skiing, picking berries, canoeing, swimming, boating, fishing, just plain exploring gravel pits and picking up beer bottles along the northern roads. Often, in the early days in Thompson, her parents joined us for these excursions.
Gardening was a passion, and she grew plants inside and outside as well as a vegetable garden. Nothing pleased her more than wandering in her yard enjoying the blooms and the various flora and fauna growing in it. She spent many happy hours in her yard tending to her flowers. She took pride landscaping with native species of trees and shrubs. Birds and feeding them and identifying various species delighted her, and we often fed the squirrels at the lake, too, watching them come and go, collecting what we had left out for them to eat.
Clearwater lake was a special place for our family as we enjoyed time there in the summer swimming, boating, catching minnows and crayfish, having bonfires, fishing, and enjoying all the lake life offered. Meeting up with family and friends we had not seen recently was also a highlight of these happy times at the cabin.
Mom was always physically active enjoying curling, walking, taking exercise classes, both playing racquetball and serving on the executive of the Thompson Racquetball Association, weight training and line dancing. She was a regular attender at St. John’s United Church in Thompson and Comox United Church, as part of the UCW. An avid volunteer mom canvassed for numerous charities and was a generous giver to many charities which earned her a very high volume of mail! Sorority was a big part of her life in Thompson and she gained many lifelong friends from it. Mom also chaperoned at sports and band trips.
Known for being practical and frugal, mom was the original recycler and always tried to reuse and reduce waste and be creative while doing that. She loved to read and devoured papers, magazines and books. Growing up there was always plenty of reading material at our home and we were encouraged to read it all and to visit the library regularly. She was a very curious soul always wanting to know more and read more about the things she was interested in. Evenings often meant cups of tea, and reading newspapers, and the discussion about what was in the paper. She was always on the hunt for good books and absolutely loved examining and sifting through the various little private reading libraries around Comox. She enjoyed trading books with others and talking about them after. She was still doing that until relatively recently.
She leaves to celebrate her life and legacy her children Carolyn (Ian), and Richard (Monique). Barbara was a cherished and proud grandmother to Aiden Halcrow, of Thompson, and to Luc and Michelle Kostyk, of The Pas. Barbara also leaves her sister Linda Dubé (Bernie), of Courtenay, BC; nephew Wade Dubé of Winnipeg; niece Colleen Weinstein (Paul) of Seattle, Washington; brother Jack Stephens (Karen) of Wellington, ON; nephews Shawn Stephens (Tiffany) of Niverville, MB, and Chris Stephens of Kelowna, BC; sisters-in-law Elaine Fogh (Albert) of Edmonton, AB and Carol Heape of The Pas, MB; nieces Liana Steiner (Mike) of Edmonton, AB, and Kim Hoffman (Cy) of Calgary, AB; nephews Stuart Fogh of Valemount, BC and Kelly Heape (Anisa) of The Pas, MB; brothers-in-law Larry Kostyk of The Pas, and Ken Kostyk (Karen) of The Pas, MB; nieces Samantha, and Tiffany Kostyk of The Pas, MB.
Our family acknowledges and is grateful for the genuine support, care and professionalism she received from Drs. R. Potter-Cogan and Nikova and their clinic staff, her oncologist Dr. Brooks, and the Cancer Care nursing staff at the North Island Hospital where she received her treatments.
Cremation has taken place. A Memorial Service was held at the Comox United Church on November 30, 2021. There will be a summer of 2022 celebration of her life at Clearwater Lake, MB. Donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society.Obituary
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