WOJCIECH “WOJTEK” WALDEMAR HELLWIG
February 1, 1952 – September 26, 2015
Wojtek, aka “Tekker”, passed away on the morning of September 26th at the Kelowna General Hospital, comforted by his wife Maria, following a battle with cancer that lasted just weeks.
Wojtek is survived by his loving wife Maria, 2 sons: Bartholomew Maksymilian Hellwig and Konrad Robert Hellwig, his father-in-law Marian Srokosz, and family in Poland including his sister Elzbieta Ratajczak and his brother Jerzy Hellwig.
The youngest of three children, Wojtek was born on February 1, 1952 in Gliwice Poland to parents Cecylia and Herbert Hellwig, often referred to by his father as “his greatest joy.” Wojtek was a child full of mischief, famous for lighting his father’s newspaper on fire while it was being read, or taking a 4 km stroll in the heart of the city at the age of three….If there was a broken window close by it was usually his fault as well!
Wojtek became a Gas & Petroleum engineer and worked in his profession until it was time to flee Poland in 1981, when life had nothing positive to offer to young people starting out in life. The solidarity movement with Lech Walesa at the helm were doing the right things, but it looked like it would be decades before everything would change for the better. Wojtek & Maria decided to leave. Their 6 year old son Bart was not allowed to go with them, a common practice at the time, to make sure that the parents would not leave the country for good. It was a hellish experience for them both, but they made it to Canada in September of 1982. They immediately sponsored Bart who came to Canada a few months later. A few years later, Wojtek and Maria also sponsored Maria’s parents, Marian & Waleria Srokosz. Wojtek graciously opened his heart and his home to them, and Marian continues to live with Maria in Fernie.
In Canada Wojtek worked in various professions, never going back to the one he was educated for in Poland. He had a family to support and going back to the university to get his Canadian equivalent of his diploma didn’t make sense to him.
Wojtek worked for many companies: texture spraying, carpet cleaning, pizza delivery, vending machines, etc. When the U of A distribution & scheduling department began downsizing, Wojtek jumped at the opportunity to move to Fernie, his “dream town”. By then, Wojtek had discovered his beloved skiing; his mission in life! Jobs were not easy to find in Fernie, but Wojtek was very happy to find one at the Best Western as night auditor. That “dream” job allowed him to ski more then a hundred times in a season, while working full time! No wonder he was always smiling….
An answer to his prayers, his “love affair” with the Best Western continued for 15 years and brought more contentment and happiness than ever expected. Great personal and professional friendships developed and grew into fulfilling, lifelong connections that proved to be so extremely important to him and his family, especially at the very end.
Wojtek was a fighter! He went to Kelowna to fight this “beast” of a cancer, without the knowledge of what type it was and how quickly the battle of his life would be lost. The person that was most surprised with the way things went was Wojtek himself, he even bought the tickets to fly home without the cancellation insurance.
Wojtek is greatly missed by so many of us family in Canada as well as in Poland, friends and everybody he knew and touched it one way or another, all of the great people God surrounded us with and you all know who you are………
God bless, until we meet again Tekker!………
Memorial donations may be made in Wojtek’s name to the Canadian Cancer Society. Memories & condolences shared at www.cherishedmemoriesfs.com Arrangements entrusted to Cherished Memories Funeral Services Ltd.