Phyllis was born on January 12,1924. Her parents Hnat and Mary Sytnyk raised a family of seven children: sons Peter, Michael, Tom, Joe, Alex and daughters Phyllis and Eva. The family was raised on a farm in LGD of Park. She attended Roger’s School, where she reached grade eight. On June 4, 1944, Phyllis married Anton (Tony) Tutkaluk, who was farming south-west of Oakburn. The family started in May of 1946 with twin girls Marlene and Marilyn, followed by Denise in December of 1955 and Julie in August of 1963. Life on the farm was busy. Raising her children. Cooking and baking. Sewing, mending and quilting. Starting seeds and tending to countless seedlings in her greenhouse. Growing vegetables, fruits and flowers in her numerous gardens. Canning and freezing the harvest of those gardens. Helping with the crops. Milking cows and bottle-feeding newborn calves. Raising chickens and pigs. Loving the dogs and puppies, the cats and the kittens. Maintaining her house and immaculate yard. Caring for her parents as well as Tony’s parents whenever required. But it wasn’t always hard work. Her gardens and flowers brought her great joy, and she loved her animals. They enjoyed getting together with family, friends and neighbors to play cards and kick up their heels at dances. Mom was most happy staying close to home. Nonetheless, they did travel to Hawaii, Florida, California, the Grand Canyon, Vancouver and Scotland. She was a 4-H leader teaching sewing, as she was a talented seamstress. She became involved in the Shoal Lake Agricultural Society, in the horticultural section. In 1988, they decided it was time to leave farm life and retire to Shoal Lake. They had purchased a lovely corner double lot on the North-East edge of town. They drew up plans for a new home, almost identical in layout to the house on the farm and moved there in 1991. The large double lot meant that dad had room for a decent sized workshop, and that mom had more than enough area for her gardens. It was after the move to town that mom’s “flower power” really kicked in. Her success in growing stunning African violets and orchids were envied by many. If one of her orchids happened to be in bloom for the Shoal Lake Fair, she was usually guaranteed to come home with the “Best Bloom” ribbon. She entered numerous flower arrangements and vegetables in the fair. Winning the “most points in horticulture” always brought her great pride.
In 2008, her daily routine was forever changed when dad’s health changed. Knowing that his physical care would be more than she could handle, dad was admitted to the Shoal Lake Morley House PCH. Mom rarely missed a day when she would visit dad, often going more than once a day. Dad passed away on October 20, 2012, at the age of 94. They had been married 68 years. A year later, Marilyn and her husband Ian left their longtime home in Scotland and moved in with mom. Later, they bought the house, and mom continued to live there. Still able to do her gardening, cooking, baking, and with the security of family under the same roof, it was a perfect arrangement for mom. As time marched on, mom required more help with her daily activities. She was accepting that someday, she would move to the personal care home where dad lived. Mom never wanted to be a burden on her family. In the summer of 2021, the process was started for mom to move to the personal care home. We were taken by surprise when a room was offered to her rather quickly. She moved to the care home on August 19, 2021. Mom’s room had plant stands complete with grow lights. Geraniums, African violets, even fruit bearing tomatoes all grew close to her.
She was a dedicated member of the Oakburn Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League and was recently presented with a 40-year pin, which she is wearing today on her vest. When we learned that she had passed away, we were shocked. It was not expected. The fact is, mom was “wanting to go, already”. She was not afraid of dying. She was ready. “Tony is waiting for me.” Phyllis was predeceased by an infant son Nicholas, parents Hnat and Mary, husband Tony, siblings Michael, Joe, Tom, Peter, Eva, and her son-in-law Gerald Mayor. She leaves the following family members to remember her with love: a brother Alex Sytnyk (Pat). Daughters Marlene Kunko (John), Marilyn Paterson (Ian), Denise Mayor, Julie Tutkaluk (Rodney Zemianski). Granddaughter Laurie Kunko-Pozernick (Grant), Grandson John Paterson (Taylor). Great grandsons Kolby and Rogan Kunko-Pozernick. As well as numerous nieces and nephews, and their children.