September 12, 1927 – January 27, 2022
Eva Pavelich departed her loving and devoted family on January 27, 2022 at the age of 94 years. The family is very grateful for the 5 years of nursing care she received at the Youville Home in St. Albert, Alberta with a special thank you to Sarah Buckley. Eva was also blessed to have the dedicated assistance of her daughter Linda Michael, son Bob Pavelich, and private caregiver, Nora Enojas.
Eva was born on September 12, 1927 to Marta and Mike Balen in the former Yugoslavia, in Sveti Rok, a farming community in Lika County, Croatia. Her father left for Canada before Eva was born, searching for work and a better opportunity for his family. Just days before her 6th birthday, Eva and her mother travelled to Zagreb and on to Antwerp, Belgium and then Harwich, England to begin their transatlantic voyage to Canada. The final leg of their trip was a rail adventure across Canada to Mercoal, in the Alberta Coal Branch, where Eva’s father was employed by the CN railroad. In 1934, Eva became a big sister when Mary Balen (Vollweiter) was born. In 1942 their mother died. At 15 years of age Eva quit school and quickly learned how to care for a household and take care of her 8 year old sister, Mary. Eva’s skills improved over time and she became an excellent cook, baker, needle worker and seamstress. The two sisters were good friends and continued to have a close and loving relationship their entire lives. Mary is left to mourn Eva’s passing, along with Mary’s children Mike (Rosetti) and Liz (Brad) and their families.
In 1949 Eva married Victor Pavelich. Victor had also emigrated from Croatia with his family to Mountain Park, a neighboring town in the Coal Branch. Victor attended school, completed Grade 8 and then began work in the Mountain Park coal mine. At 19, Victor enlisted in the Canadian army. After returning from the war in Europe, Victor became employed in the Mercoal coal mine. He boarded with his aunt, Theresa Krpan and the Krpan family happened to be neighbors to the Balen family. Apart from Eva’s natural beauty, she was a seasoned homemaker, and an obvious catch for Victor. They were married in Mercoal on August 14, 1949. In the early 1950’s Eva and Victor moved to Edmonton, and later, in 1957 bought their first acreage south of St. Albert.
Eva had the luxury of acreage living nearly her entire adult life. Although this came with an abundance of hard work, there were also many rewards. In earlier times she milked the cow, separated the cream from the milk, made her own cheese, baked bread, grew an immense garden, canned fruit and vegetables, and even plucked chickens. She loved the open outdoor space that an acreage provided. This allowed her to have a big yard and garden for her children and grandchildren. Growing healthy food was a must. Most mornings you would find her outside, roaming around in her bare feet collecting fresh vegetables from the garden, watering her bedding plants, and plucking weeds.
Eva especially loved her last acreage home and lived there until she was 89. She loved making meals for her family and friends. She was always up for a chat on the phone or a visit over cake and a cup of coffee. Eva’s life was basic, but rich with the simple pleasures she enjoyed. She, like Victor, taught her children and subsequently grandchildren, that family was everything, and that hard work, being kind and being helpful was expected.
Eva and Victor raised their children with love and devotion. Left to mourn her passing are John Pavelich of Vernon, BC, Linda (Jim) Michael of Sturgeon County, Susan (Neil) Hutchison of Kelowna, BC, and Bob Pavelich of St. Albert.
Eva’s children and 7 grandchildren got to experience Eva’s tenacity, strong will, and stubborn persistence as she struggled to maintain the demanding life on an acreage. In 2016, Eva began to grapple with the symptoms of dementia. Her children struggled to help keep Eva in her home. As a last attempt, her son Bob moved in with her, preparing meals and watching over her. Sadly in early 2017, Eva fell, broke her hip and required hospitalization. While in hospital she had a severe stroke, and returning to her home was simply not possible any longer. Eva’s family was devastated as they knew this is not what Eva would have chosen.
Eva was immensely proud of her grandchildren, Sara (Matt) Abraham, Ian (Jen) Michael, Lee Pavelich, Tara (Tyler) van Blankenstein, Nick (Janine Matetich) Pavelich, Niki (Stephan) Aucoin, and Emily (Zach Cornwall) Pavelich. She was fortunate to meet her first great grandchild, Jake Michael. Tristan Aucoin and Corben Abraham were born after Eva’s passing and will have to learn about their Gramma Eva through pictures and shared memories. All future generations will be taught the values and moral principles that were lived and passed down by Eva.
Eva lost loved ones far too early in her life. Each and every loss was painful and devastating for her. Each loss felt like a storm that Eva had to weather. Each storm made her stronger, more resilient and more determined. She had to say goodbye to her mother, Marta in 1942 and her father, Mike in 1978. Tragically in 1984, she lost her husband, Victor. Sadly, life for Eva was never the same from then on. She was also predeceased by Frances and Frank Pavelich, Mary Pavelich (Poggemoeller), Josephine Pavelich (Fish), Henry Vollweiter, Martin Pavelich; Judy Vollweiter (Breakell), Donna Fish (Doner), Michelle Poggemoeller, Dean Fish, Sam Pavelich, and Bill Abbott-Pavelich.
Mother…you left us such beautiful memories. We loved you and tried to care for you as well as you cared for us. Your love will continue to guide us. Thank you for always being there when we needed you the most, and for teaching us to be strong. We will always uphold the family values we were taught, and to continue to love and take care of each other now that you are gone. We trust that you are reunited with Dad and are sitting together by a babbling brook while he casts his fishing rod to catch another brook trout.
Even though Eva’s life circumstances molded her character to be tough, direct and demanding at times, on the inside she was a marshmallow…tender-hearted, generous and kind. In lieu of a memorial donation please honour Eva by extending a kind gesture, either to a family member, a neighbour, or possibly a complete stranger.