Elizabeth Areshenkoff, beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, was born on September 21, 1934, at Kamsack, Saskatchewan, to Nick and Nellie Pankoff. She was the youngest of four children: John, Ann and Peter. The family moved to Grand Forks in 1943 when she was nine years old, settling on a farm in Almond Gardens. Upon completing Grade 8, Elizabeth left school to work at seed farms, the packinghouse and the Style Centre. A popular event during the school years was the May Day celebration, and in 1948, Elizabeth, always admired for her beauty, was crowned Maid of Honour.
Elizabeth first met Nick Areshenkoff in 1948 when he worked with her brother Peter in a logging camp. They began courting in 1953 and married on January 8, 1955. They first lived in an apartment above Anne’s Grill in a building owned by Nick’s father, where three of their four children were born: daughter Linda and sons, Ron and Barry. In 1962 they built a home in west Grand Forks on the hospital street where another son, Danny blessed their family.
At home, Elizabeth tended a large garden while keeping busy with four active children. The old wringer washer gave out from the many loads of family laundry and hockey team jerseys. She would wake in the wee hours of each morning to make and pack a fresh lunch for her husband to take to work in the logging truck. The root cellar was always well stocked with an abundance of home grown fruits and vegetables and there were always delicious and creative meals for her family. Later, with the advent of satellite television, Elizabeth loved watching the cooking shows, learning kitchen tips and perfecting her cooking skills. She also did some quilting and sewing clothes for the family.
She was a wonderful homemaker and was generous to family and friends alike. The years spent in west Grand Forks were very joyous. There were about 35 children over a two-block radius and all the families socialized together. There were numerous camping excursions, picnics at Christina Lake, tobogganing at the Pines Bible Camp and at Reid’s Hill, and home parties. The women met for coffee each morning and the children called the adult’s aunty and uncle. It was a safe and nurturing neighbourhood, the relationships of which Elizabeth always treasured.
The family was involved with the Grand Forks Border Bruins hockey team for some 12 years and Elizabeth was known for her extraordinary culinary skills. She worked tirelessly feeding her own family, the billets that lived with them, visiting hockey teams and players’ family members. Lasting friendships were made that remain to this day.
Elizabeth had a strong resolve to accomplish seemingly daunting tasks. A favourite expression was “I can move mountains”. To illustrate this, the family recalls an incident in 1974 when their son, Ron played hockey with the Vernon Vikings. One time, the team travelled to Grand Forks to play an exhibition game against the Border Bruins. Naturally, Elizabeth wanted her son to come home for a meal so he could visit with the family. The coach refused, saying the team had to stay together. This was unacceptable to her, that she couldn’t feed her son at home. So she came up with the brilliant idea to invite the entire team. She put on a traditional Russian meal starting with her famous borscht and bread; and ending with delicious pies and the best part was being able to feed her son. The coach likely didn’t know what he was up against when he initially refused this mother to feed her son.
Over the years, Elizabeth supported her children- Linda in her educational and career pursuits, Ron with his hockey career and Barry who took over the family logging business. It pleased her to watch them become successful adults and parents.
Elizabeth loved her Doukhobor community and kept the Doukhobor principles close to her heart. She loved listening to the numerous Doukhobor choral groups, including the Vocal Six, the Centennial Choir, the Union of Young Doukhobors, the Grand Forks and Men’s Tri-choirs and more recently, the Victoria Doukhobor Choir.
For over 32 years, Elizabeth operated Nature’s Way Health store until her retirement. She was always nutritionally conscious and this venture gave her the opportunity to keep current with health research and to share her knowledge with others. This was a lifestyle that she brought into her home and the legacy that she leaves for her family.
Seven years ago, Elizabeth’s mobility was severely compromised following hip surgery and her health slowly declined. She was diagnosed with cancer in early April of this year. Following a brief hospital stay, Elizabeth passed away peacefully at Boundary Hospital early on Saturday, May 12, 2012, surrounded by her loving family. She was 77 years old.
Elizabeth was predeceased by her parents, Nick and Nellie Pankoff; her son, Danny; brothers, Peter and John; and sister, Anne Straloff. She also suffered additional losses of close family members.
Elizabeth is survived by her loving husband of 57 years, Nick; daughter, Linda; son, Ron (Becky) and Barry (Charlene); grandchildren: Jared, Corson, Landyce, Ashley, Nilan and Alicia; three great-grandchildren: Audrey, Olivia and Liam; sisters-in-law: Molly Pankoff, Elizabeth Pankoff, Paulette (Ralph) Tedesco and Mable Blakely; brother-in-aw, Bill (Marge) Areshenkoff; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Our mom was the centre of our family. She made us feel deeply loved and leaves an immeasurable void in our lives. Her loving touch will be with us always. May God accept her soul into His heavenly kingdom and may she rest in peace.
A traditional Doukhobor funeral was held on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at the USCC, followed by interment at the USCC Sion Doukhobor Cemetery. Grand Forks Funeral Home had care of arrangements.
The Family is deeply appreciative of everyone who telephoned, sent cards and flowers, visited the home, brought food and attended the service, especially those who travelled over distance. Your heartfelt support was a comfort to us. We are also grateful to Everett Baker and staff at the Grand Forks Funeral Home; J.J. Verigin and Laura Verigin/ Paul (Jerry) Seminoff for his guidance and comfort and exceptional care in officiating at the service; the singers, cooks and gravediggers. We also extend heartfelt thanks to the doctors and nurses at Boundary Hospital for their compassionate care and attention to our dear wife and mother and the support they extended to our family. We are truly grateful to everyone for your love and support. Donations to Iskra Publications or a charity one one’s choice would be appreciated.