Lesia Romanoff

July 9, 2015 - 4:08pm
Friday, July 3, 2015

It is with deep sorrow we announce the passing of our beloved sister and sister-in-law, Lesia Zubrack Romanoff at the age of 84.  Lesia passed away at our acreage on May 3, 2015.  Lesia is survived by her loving sister Dr. Vesper Adams Goota and brother-in-law Ron Goota.  Lesia was predeceased by her spouse Ivan Romanoff; her father Michael Zubrack; her mother Ludwina (Navalkowsky) Zubrack; her sister Michelle (George) Georget; and her sister-in-law Elena Webb.  Left to mourn her passing and cherish her memory are two step-sons Boris (Lena) Romanoff and Sergei (Anita) Romanoff; step-granddaughters Justine, Jacqueline and Nicole; nephews Alderic (Tamica) Georget, Alden Georget and Arden Georget; special friends Anne Channon and Jack Ellis, Ann and Russ Worobec, Fred and Eva Breeze, Jackie and Joe Wall of Toronto, ON, Wendy and Robert McKay of Orangeville, ON, and Sheila and John Bloom of London, England.  Lesia Savella Zubrack was born on April 22, 1931 in Saskatoon where her father Michael Zubrack was Rector of the Mohilya Institute.  In 1933, at the height of the depression, Michael, graduate pharmacist and Ludwina, his wife who was a teacher, moved to Prince Albert in order to open a drugstore.  From an early age Lesia demonstrated a prodigious musical talent.  At the age of two she sang and recited Ukrainian folksongs and poetry in concerts organized by her parents.  When she was 5, Lesia played the harmonica and sang on CKBI radio station.  As a teenager, her beautiful coloratura soprano voice attracted the attention of a movie talent scout from Universal Studio in Hollywood who wanted to sign her to a contract.  However, her parents wished her to pursue a more classical training in Canada.  At 16, Lesia entered the University of Saskatchewan where she performed in the Music Dept. Presentation of musical operettas such as the Merry Widow.  In recognition of her academic abilities and musical ability she was awarded the Collingwood Scholarship offered by the College of Music.  At 17, Lesia was accepted by the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto to study under George Lambert, a renowned teacher of voice.  1955 marked three great achievements in Lesia’s career.  She won three national singing competitions:  Opportunity Knocks, Singing Stars of Tomorrow and Nos Futures Etoile.  During this time she toured Canada giving concerts and was a featured performer with the Canadian Opera Company.  Then the most important step in Lesia’s professional and personal career happened when she joined the singing cast of Ivan Romanoff’s CBC radio show Songs of My People.  In 1958, her musical and writing talents merged as she became scriptwriter, researcher, performer, arranger and administrator for Ivan’s TV series called Rhapsody.  Lesia’s and Ivan’s musical partnership merged into a personal one when they married on Christmas Day in 1961.  Not only was Lesia Ivan’s musical and personal partner, but she became a step-mother to his two young sons Boris and Sergei.  This was a role she embraced with all her energy and love.  Anyone who would have visited Toronto in the early 1970’s to the late 1980’s made sure to attend concerts at the Ontario Place Forum, an open air concert stage on the shores of Lake Ontario.  Lesia was the producer and performer in Ivan’s orchestra and chorus.  These Sunday performances ran from early May to September and featured guest celebrities such as Frank Sinatra and Harry Belafonte.  Despite her hectic personal and professional life, Lesia found time to write and produce a radio documentary on the life of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s national poet as well as produce records To Life, To Love and To Music.  As well, she contributed to the LP Good News which featured 11 of her inspirational songs.  Due to health issues Lesia decided to join our family in October of 2013.  She loved nature, so the surroundings on the acreage gave her an opportunity to watch the birds at their feeders, observe the trees bloom and change color with the seasons and enjoy rides with me into town.  Her particular love was Paco our border collie to whom she would sing Ukrainian folk songs.  There is one particular story which demonstrates her love of animals, particularly squirrels.  In her home on Lakeshore Blvd. were many beautiful trees of birch which were inhabited by grey squirrels.  In late fall and early winter she smeared the tree trunks and branches with gallons of peanut butter so, as she said “they can survive the winter”.  Lesia often quoted a part of a prayer her mother loved, called A Prayer for a Merciful Passing.  “When the moment comes for me to leave this earth, Dear Lord, protect me, cover me with your one form.  Let my body be conscious of your presence, and to hear your voice calling “My good servant enters my Kingdom”.  God speed your journey, “Lesinka”.  Interment Services were celebrated at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 15, 2015 at Prince Albert Memorial Gardens officiated by Deacon Harold Salahub of St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Church.  Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Gray's Funeral Chapel, (306-922-4729).


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