1933 – 2023
It is with heavy hearts that the family announces the passing of Maria Paizs on the 10th of January, 2023, at the age of 89.
Maria is survived by husband (of 68 years) John; children Agnes (Bill) and John Jr; grandchildren William and Amy (Robin); great-grandchildren Charlotte, Piper and Augustus; sisters Agnes and Ilona; and many, many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Maria was born to Maria and Sandor Gulyas on March 5, 1933, in the coal mining city of Tatabanya, Hungary. She was one of seven children. It was at a summer dance in that city that she met the handsome young love of her life and future husband John, who at that time was working in the city. He hailed from a small village in Hungary some 200 kilometres away. They soon began dating. However, the army then intervened — John was called up in the draft — and their relationship became a long distance one of letter writing, which, with the passage of time, eventually began to wane. When after two years John was discharged from the army, so intent was his father that this young Tatabanyan beauty would not get away from his son, unbeknownst to him he invited her to a wedding taking place in their village later that month. Needless to say, young John was gobsmacked on the day of that wedding when suddenly there she stood in their doorway. And hardly had he regained his footing when his father popped the question FOR him, and sped off to town to buy the engagement rings! Suffice it to say, however, Father knew best, as the marriage of John and Maria proved to be a very long and happy one!
Following a respectable interval after their wedding, along came baby Agnes, and then the event that would radically change the course of their young lives… the Hungarian Revolution! Suddenly, the country was in revolt, and John and Maria, with baby Agnes, were among the thousands of other ordinary Hungarians who had made the perilous escape from Hungary into Austria, and freedom in the West. Their bid to immigrate to the US, however, was a no-go as that country had just reached its quota of Hungarian refugees, so they opted for Canada instead — Vancouver being their ultimate goal. They got as far as Winnipeg when they were told to get off the train (along with the rest of that car of Hungarian refugees), and that Canada is a free country; if they want to go to Vancouver, they can work and move there.
So, Winnipeg it was, and some nine months after the time they were in the refugee camp in Austria, along came baby John (junior).
In the winters during their early years in Winnipeg (while husband John was laid off from his road construction labourer job), Maria went to work in various garment factories. At these factories, she reliably exceeded her quotas, ensuring the commendations of her bosses and the resentment of her coworkers for making them look slack! The same thing happened some twenty years later when John was battling back from the bankruptcy of his first road construction company — Maria went to work at a Hudson’s Bay Company store cafeteria, where in short order she shone as their best sandwich and dessert maker!
Which was no wonder as Maria was a sensational cook! Her mastery of Hungarian cuisine was legendary among the couple’s large friend group of fellow Hungarian expats in town, and barely a month went by when their house wasn’t filled with these friends, in rapture over the incredible spreads Maria sometimes spent days preparing! And no surprise at these times, the wine would be flowing and soon there’d be singing — and it’s doubtful that anything made Maria laugh better than when these old Hungarian songs they sang turned, on occasion, to just the fellas knocking out those of the bawdy kind!
Maria also excelled at knitting, crocheting, needlepoint. She loved making her own clothes. Later on, she even made costumes for her son John Junior’s movies. She even got good at just taking it easy, and enjoying the good life in the many resort spots the world over where husband John’s success had been able to take them; and travelling numerous times back to Hungary to visit with family.
But what she excelled at most in life, and what brought her the most joy, the simplest pleasures, the profoundest fulfilment, throughout the years, whether they were good or bad, was the role of wife, mother, grandmother, and, as best as the Alzheimer’s that cruelly afflicted her later in life would allow her, great-grandmother.
The family are brokenhearted at her passing. Maria simply was the sweetest, kindest, most giving and caring person. Truly, they were blessed.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Crocker and the nursing staff on the 6th floor of the St. Boniface Hospital for their compassionate care in her final days.
In lieu of flowers, please consider giving to the Alzheimer Society of Canada.