Denise M Kotowich
April 28, 1933 – October 19, 2019
Denise Marie Antonie Kotowich (Gillioz) nee Kolly passed away peacefully on Saturday, October 19, 2019.
She was predeceased by her father Louis Kolly, Step Father Albert Gillioz, Mother Angele Gillioz and husband Ed Kotowich.
She leaves her children and their families, Alan (Deb) Kotowich, Jason, Sean and Jaelyn; Ken (Bev) Kotowich, Deandra (Scott) Petersen, Shantelle and Krisjan; Janelle (Peter) Zajaczkowski; Sherril (Eric) Matthes and Kira (Josh) Bellingham; as well as other extended relatives and many friends.
Mom was born in Notre Dame De Lourdes and lost her father at the age of 5 months. Growing up an only child whose Mom traveled to Jasper for employment she learned independence and self-determination at an early age, which stayed with her throughout her entire life.
After her Mom (Memere) remarried to Albert Gillioz (Pappy) they moved to Sudbury Ontario for a number of years where he worked in the mines. They returned to Manitoba and lived in St. Boniface where she completed “commercial” at College. This was where she met and made lifelong friends with Jeannine Cadorath. Our family spent many great times together with Auntie Jean, Uncle Mel, Rick, David and Cathy Cadorath at their cottage at Caddy Lake. Mom and Dad also enjoyed traveling with them on trips to Barbados, Hawaii, and at their winter home in Arizona.
Mom met Dad while working as the secretary at P.I.X. (Pacific Inland Express). They went out on a “dare date” in February of 1954, got engaged in April and married in October.
Having been an only child Mom was determined that they would have many children – and soon the family grew to four children. Mom was able to be at home with the kids for the most part and raised us with the same sense of adventure and independence that she had. While Dad was often busy working multiple full and part time jobs, including his time playing for the Bombers, Mom was the rock and mentor at home. She made sure that we would learn and explore nature at an early age, camping in a tent at West Hawk Lake with four kids all summer with Dad coming out on the weekends. There we explored trails, bloodsuckers, camp fires, and adventures. Dad was horrified when he found out that we were jumping off the rock cliffs into the lake!
She made sure that we were all busy with swimming lessons and the many sporting and community club activities growing up. Mom was a hockey Mom before the term was in vogue. She attended as many of her son’s games as she could and we could always hear her cheers and encouragement over the rest of the crowd.
Mom loved all sorts of music. From Johnny Matthes to Mireille Mathieu to The Merry Men to the Three Tenors and everything in between. When we were growing up in Windsor Park in the 60’s the Beatles were hitting the charts. Dad vowed that we should not be listening to that “Hippie” music. So, when he was out of town Mom would play the Beatles records for us.
Mom and Dad would take us out to Nanny and Pappy’s (Mary and Albert Kotowich) farm on Henderson Highway where we would ride the “rock boat” and sometimes help with picking veggies that Mom would freeze for the coming winter season. Mom and Nanny had a very special relationship. One day Nanny called Mom in a panic that there was “something in the yard – come quick”. We went out to the farm to find a rather large turtle that must have come up from the river. Mom being a lover of all animals decided that we should take the turtle home. Later that night Dad came home from a road trip and was going to take a shower only to be shocked to find a large turtle in the bathtub!
We also spent many great times at Auntie Margaret’s (Dad’s Sister) with Auntie Margaret, Uncle Charlie, Kelly, Brenda and Jeffrey Wazney. They hosted amazing Christmas open houses and birthday parties where you would find a coin in your piece of homemade Birthday cake.
We visited with relatives the Sauteur’s and Kolly’s and friends of Mom’s in Notre Dame de Lourdes. It was always an adventure, whether seeing the horses, or playing around the barn where the boys couldn’t resist trying to “ride” the pigs!
We were lucky enough to travel a bit as a young family. Mom and Dad took the four kids and our grandparents on Mom’s side (Memere and Pappy) in the old station wagon, pulling a small house trailer to Expo ’67 in Montreal. Now that’s got to be a testament to endurance and patience! They also took the same group on a vacation to Switzerland to visit our Swiss relatives and tour some of the country. An amazing experience.
Living in Windsor Park Mom was very active with the parish at St. Bernadette’s including the auxiliary and choir. Mom and Dad were very involved in the early years of the Festival Du Voyageur. While volunteering as Festival Queen Contest Coordinator she worked with a group of women who became best of friends. The “Festival Girls”, Bea Cowley, Gertie Mousseau, Flo Lewer, Marie Norton, Helene Grouette, and Mom, an amazing group who shared their lives, laughs and joie de vivre which lasted all of their lives. Later Mom also volunteered on the board of the St. Boniface Museum.
For all of their 20th. anniversaries Mom, Dad, Auntie Jean and Uncle Mel Cadorath and Auntie Dorothy and Uncle Lud Domeratski went on a vacation together to Barbados. While there they rubbed shoulders with Engelbert Humperdinck who was staying on vacation next door.
Mom loved fishing and got involved with the “Happy Anglers” – a group of women who made an annual fishing excursion in May. It involved a very early morning breakfast gathering before boarding the bus to some remote location for fishing all day – usually in cool and rainy weather – but having a great time and camaraderie – particularly on the bus trip back to the city.
After camping and boating across Manitoba and NW Ontario for a few years Mom and Dad bought the cottage in Clearwater Bay in 1969. It was a labor of love where they made many great friends and memories. The era was filled with adventures – exploring the lake, water skiing, boating, fishing, blueberry picking, hiking, dirt bikes, snowmobiling in the winter, and lots of blood, sweat and tears fixing the old cottage (which some might have called child labor)! There were also many days and nights of fishing tournaments, card parties and costume parties with the lake neighbors and entertaining friends.
In 1985/86 it was time to replace the old cottage with a new retirement home at the lake. They designed the new cottage and had it built. That same year in December Dad passed away suddenly. A very difficult time but Mom’s independence and self-determination eventually returned and she enjoyed the next 30 years with summers at the lake, transforming the yard into beautiful gardens, and entertaining friends and family. She was known for her open house hospitality for all who wanted to come and spend time. Cooking and entertaining everyone and renowned for her famous Blueberry Cheesecake. She enjoyed her garden, the chickadees, tree frogs and other ‘friends’ at the cottage at Lake of the Woods for most of her adult life. We laughed, we cried, we sang, we danced.
Mom loved to travel. She loved the many trips she had with each of her kids and their families, frequently to one of the Islands in the Caribbean or other sun destinations. She also joined a group in Winnipeg call The Friendship Force of Manitoba. This groups’ focus is to provide members with travel opportunities to other Friendship Force Groups worldwide, and to host groups from afar on trips to Winnipeg. She made many friends both in Winnipeg and abroad through their adventures. Some destinations included South America, Greenland, Holland and New Zealand to mention a few. She also traveled to Africa with a group from Winnipeg which was one of her favorite adventures.
She had a great sense of humor and was often able to put a new spin on age old sayings. Like “You Can’t Punch A Gift Horse In The Mouth”.
Despite some major struggles Mom’s independence and self-determination led her to a very full and rewarding life, gracing everyone she knew with her spunky energy and enthusiasm.
It is with heavy hearts, but excellent memories that we had to say goodbye.
Our deepest gratitude is extended to Dr. Kevin Coates who consistently extended the utmost in respectful and compassionate care and provided us with invaluable guidance over many years. Thank you to Linda and the wonderful staff at Riverwood Square Assisted Living for all their care and support. And Thank You to Susan and the amazing staff at Poseidon PCH whose unwavering respect and personal attention to Mom’s needs was nothing short of a blessing.
A Celebration of Mom’s Life will be held at 12:00 p.m. Thursday, July 7, 2022 at Canad Inns Destination Centre, Fort Garry, 1824 Pembina Hwy. A private family interment was held.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of your choice.