Marie Elash

November 10, 1921 ~ November 9, 2021 (age 99)


Marie Elash was in her centenarian year when she was called to her Eternal Home on November 9, 2021 in the presence of one of her favorite nurses, Jody, at Hillcrest Place Personal Care Home, Brandon, Manitoba, placed there in 2001 by and with oversight by the Public Trustee of Manitoba. On arrival, Marie was a non-stop busy bee, as it was her innate nature throughout her life to keep her hands occupied.  Hillcrest staff had to be creative giving her little jobs to keep her entertained.  They have assembled a memory book full of sweet messages about all Marie's adventures there, including the special attachment Hillcrest's mascot cat, Taz, had with her.  Often, she would play music tapes, loudly, of Ukrainian songs for Taz and leave her room which was steps away from the nurses' station.

Marie was one of twelve children born to Caroline (Krushelniski) Manastryski/Loszchuk (1900-1966).  (There are various spellings for Manastryski.)  Marie's father was Anton Manastryski (1886-1934) who immigrated at 18 years of age with his family leaving Europe from Hamburg, landing in Halifax on June 30, 1904 according to the passenger list number 10983 on the "Assyria", a one funnel ship with a forward speed of 13 knots.  The family's destination was listed as Grenfell, Saskatchewan to begin a life of freedom and progress. Anton's father was Fyens Manastyrski (55), mother Pelagia (50), sister Katha (16), Josefa (11), Josef (9), and aunt Anna (50); for which Fyens paid $10 for all six passengers (inflation value approximately $310 in 2021).  Anton transacted land grant number 538297 and homesteaded (Part NW, Sec 20, Twp 25, Range 9, Meridan W2) in Goodeve, Saskatchewan, which is where Marie was born in 1921.  She was baptized and confirmed on January 1, 1922 at Holy Trinity Church, rural Goodeve, by Fr. Joseph Bala CSSR, and sponsored by Godparents Dmytro Piasta and Mary Horudko.  Marie attended the one room Beaver Hills School near the family farm, which was where a generation later, daughter Diane Marie attended kindergarten in 1951.

After leaving school, Marie's journeys took her to assisting families in the Balcarres, Saskatchewan area, then moved to Toronto, Ontario, to live with sisters Rose and Joyce, and where she found her passion in the restaurant business and learned exemplary culinary skills. After marrying William J. (Bill) Elash, also from Goodeve on July 21, 1946 in Ituna, Saskatchewan, the beautiful bride and handsome, veteran husband returned to Toronto where Diane Marie was born.  The new family moved back to Saskatchewan near Bill's parents (Jack and Dora [nee Charanduk] Elash); and soon thereafter Linda was born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.  In 1952, another relocation took them to a farm seven miles southeast of Birtle, Manitoba, where four years later Bill and Marie had son Douglas (born in Hamiota, Manitoba), who was a younger brother to Dennis born six months earlier the same year and adopted into the family.

Marie was a dynamite, super mom and relentless worker while raising her family.  She worked diligently in her massive gardens that resulted in days of preserving and canning; selling milk in cream cans that are now antique collectibles; raising chickens, ducks, geese; helping Bill with the fall harvest, baking and cooking on a wood stove endlessly for the family, relatives, and area events (winning prizes at the Birtle Community summer fairs); sewing most of the family's clothes on the old Singer treadle machine that hummed into the wee hours of the night while the family slept;  always incorporating Ukrainian traditions into the religious holidays with customs and ethnic dishes, that looking back now, were so fantastic and sorely missed. Marie was very artistic and every year created colorful Easter eggs with elaborate designs.  She twice painted the weathered, two story farm house by herself after Bill built scaffolds for her to stand on.  Marie never failed to provide baked goodies and meal courses at fall suppers in the fund drives to build St. Peter Ukrainian Catholic Church in Birtle, that finally opened its doors in 1960. It is now a dedicated historic site in Manitoba that Fr. Jay Korban (who will be blessing Marie with a Divine Liturgy at St. Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church) continues to officiate two services a year there. Every Sunday, the family attended mass, always dressed perfectly because of Marie's sewing skills.  

Marie encouraged her children to attain a good education, and be involved in school extracurricular activities, 4-H, Brownies, Girl Guides, skating, Ukrainian dancing, singing and piano lessons, volleyball, basketball, and bible summer camps.  It was always a happy time to join neighbors at the community Gnaton Hall picnics, one mile from the family farm.  Her favorite Sunday picnic site was Birtle Roadside Park, where she would pack a full dinner, and take the family to dine on blankets spread on the grass under the majestic trees beside the Birdtail River.  The Royal Visit to Canada toured through Virden in 1959, and Marie had everyone dressed in their Sunday best as Queen Elizabeth drove by in a silver Cadillac, and regally waved and then pointed at two little boys, Douglas and Dennis, dressed in matching green knit suits, intently drawing with their fingers in the sand by the side of the road, obvilious to the imperial amusement.  Marie and Bill would bundle up the children taking them to weddings and dances in Birtle, Rossburn, Oakburn, Shoal Lake, Solsgirth, and barn loft dances where straw bales provided seating.  It was an indelible thrill to watch Marie and Bill glide so effortlessly together around the dance floor.  Their favorite orchestra was the superior fiddle player Peter Lamb & the Sundown Pals of Ukrainian Musician Hall of Fame, Dauphin, Manitoba.  They were genuinely passionate about playing the traditional old time music like the Riverside Polka and Lamb's Waltz. It was always glorious fun to be at one of their dances.

In her crisp white uniform scented with "Old Rose", impeccable Marie worked in Birtle for Mrs. Horvath at her hotel, and Mr. Roberts at the Birtle Drivein stand at the entrance to Birtle Roadside Park.  Marie took a business leap by purchasing her own drivein in Russell, Manitoba, from Tony & Emily Keiz on April 18, 1967:  and named it the Richmar Drivein.  It was a dream come true, and she put her heart and soul and ceaseless talents into making it a success, staying open late to feed hungry travellers, having meal "specials" for the lunch crowd, becoming the popular stop for ice cream, and for her famous cabbage rolls (holubtsi) and perogies (pedaheh, pyrohy or varenyky).  Many customers in the locality, other nearby towns, and as far away as Calgary would have standing orders for Marie's addicting perogies and cabbage rolls all year round.  Elsie Zentner lived next door, helped Marie greatly, and they became fast friends. Marie's sister Antonia Konuich in Ituna, Saskatchewan, often added her famous dinner rolls and baking goodies to assist Marie during busy summer months.  Marie and Antonia were truly best friends and would spend many hours on the phone and visiting each other especially after the Richmar closed for the off season.  

Marie was a faithful member of St. Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church in Russell, volunteering to cook with the ladies' group for events and fundraising.  She enjoyed close friendships with Pauline Bulischak and Minnie Magnowski.  Marie was a regular at bingo games and her laugh was infectious when she won. 

Marie loved to travel and some of her most enjoyable outings were visiting her dear friend Beth Pike in Toronto, Ontario (who had helped Marie pick out her wedding gown in 1946), and with her nursing student daughter Diane Marie in Tampa, Florida, celebrating New Years in 1989 at  Disney World, Orlando, Florida,  to Calgary, Alberta, to visit her Charanduk relatives, to Thunder Bay, Ontario, to help daughter Linda, to Regina, Yorkton, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for Ukrainian weddings and family gatherings, and to yearly food vendor shows in Winnipeg, Manitoba.   The huge Elash multi-generational reunion in 1992 was a once in a lifetime highlight for Marie meeting extended family, and then contributing stories and pictures to Frances (Sereda) Skoretz (Bill's sister Nellie Elash's daughter) for the commemorative book "I am an Elash", published in 2007 with a section dedicated to William J. (Bill) Elash, wife Marie, and their children and grandchildren.  The 457-page book is truly a family treasure.

Within a short time after opening the Richmar, Marie contracted Beaver Lumber to build a home across the highway from the Richmar.  During the winter months, Bill would join cooking teams to feed contract work crews in Flin Flon, The Pas, and Churchill, Manitoba (which reminded him of the many adventures of KP duty in the army, some of the stories being very hilarious).  When Bill retired from farming in Birtle, he assisted Marie at the Richmar, until his illness took his life on June 3, 1986.   The last season for the Richmar was in 1998 at which time Marie's friend Maggie Quintin was instrumental in helping Marie and thereafter at the request of the Public Trustee taking Marie to appointments and errands.   Marie cherished living in her home until her 2001 placement for safety reasons in Hillcrest Place by the Public Trustee.  Her slow, disease progression was a heartache to witness. She was a passenger on a Greyhound bus bound for Winnipeg, Manitoba, when the bus slid off the icy blacktop, tragically rolling over many times throwing suitcases, heavy boots and objects onto passengers during which she sustained serious head trauma and concussion that may have attributed to the insidious, debilitating disease that changed her life forever.  

During Marie's life, she was a devoutly Ukrainian Catholic woman so proud of her heritage and culture, beautiful, classy, immaculate, friendly, warm, charming, funny, devoted, determined, brave, intelligent, multi-talented, creative, inspiring, benevolent, generous, and compassionate.  Marie loved the dream of reaching for the stars and never letting go, always working extra hard and long hours to achieve her goals and make a better life for her family, never forgetting her humble beginnings and the value of her early life's lessons and experiences that she tried to pass onto her children.

There is so much to admire about remarkable Marie (Manasterski) Elash:  God's Faithful and Loving Servant.  "God Bless Your Soul and Life on Earth, Marie": Нехай Бог благословить твою душу і життя на землі, Маріє (Nekhay Boh blahoslovytʹ tvoyu dushu i zhyttya na zemli, Mariye); AND, "Fly With the Angels into God's Arms": Лети з ангелами в Божі обійми (Lety z anhelamy v Bozhi obiymy).

Marie is survived by her four children: Diane Marie, Linda (Wayne), Dennis (Noreen), Douglas (Tammy), and five grandchildren: Ryan, Jordan, Eden, Logan, Eric, and one step granddaughter Jackie Scott (who called Marie her "Gramma"), and one great grandchild Thea. Also, surviving are half siblings: Lucie, Lena, Adam (Margaret) and Angela.

Predeceased are her parents Anton and Caroline, husband William Jack (Bill) Elash, biological and half siblings Louis, Rose, Antonia, Joyce, Michael, Marion, and Frances.

Marie leaves behind many close and extended family members, nieces and nephews, and friends that she spent many happy times with.

Gratitude is extended to the Public Trustee in Brandon and Winnipeg, and to the Hillcrest Place Personal Care Home, Brandon, staff for caring for Marie over two decades and who worked hand in hand with Diane Marie, Marie's staunch and loyal advocate for Marie's quality of life continuum serving as her Living Will Power of Attorney; and to the Daughter on Call staff, Brandon, for their affection and compassionate assistance helping Marie achieve optimal outcomes to the end.

In lieu of flowers, monetary donations may be gifted to St. Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, 338 Augusta St. E., Russell, Manitoba ROJ 1WO, or nonperishable food items may be delivered to St. Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church for the Russell Food Collections Outlet.

Condolences and messages depicting memorable moments with Marie or about her beloved Richmar Drivein and food, may be emailed (in lieu of cards) to:

Thank you to Funeral Directors David Klassen, Bryce Paterson, and Rick Thom, Braendle-Bruce Funeral Service, Russell, Manitoba, for their sincerity, empathy and professionalism facilitating Marie's prayers and funeral service and interment, honouring her last wishes and coordinating the ceremonial rituals traditional to her Ukrainian Catholic faith that were spiritually enriching to her.


To send flowers to Marie's family, please visit our floral store.


Funeral Service
November 22, 2021

7:00 PM
St. Mary's Ukrainian Catholic Church
338 Augusta Street East
Russell, MB R0J 1W0

Video is available for this event

November 23, 2021

2:00 PM
Sacred Heart Ukrainian Catholic Cemetery
Ituna, SK S0A 1N0

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