26 February, 19397 May, 2017
Marina Gerwing, Feb. 26, 1939 – May 7, 2017 Our beautiful Oma, Howard’s Russian princess, has surrendered to an aggressive form of cancer that took her quickly. She was at home and had both of her loving daughters with her, holding her hands, as she ended her tremendous life. Marina was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia to Adelaide and Igor Syssojew. The family was divided during the 2nd world war, sending Igor, an engineer, to South America, leaving Marina, her mother and grandparents in a displaced person’s camp. Circa 1948, with no hope of re-uniting with Igor, the four of them emigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was there that Marina, always the young, unfiltered socialite, handpicked her own stepfather, a handsome denturist, at a community dance. She introduced Fritz Reighthofer to her mother, and then a new life began in Canada. Marina graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a dual degree in French and German. In 1963, she moved out west to work at the newly built University of Victoria. She spent the next 37 years working in the library, Slavonic studies, women’s studies, and eventually retiring in the French department. It was only her first year at UVIC when she met her true love, Howard. After a brief six-week courtship, a loving 54-year marriage began. Marina was one of a kind. She was incredibly intelligent, tolerant, patient and talented. She spoke multiple languages and explored a variety of careers in her lifetime. She was musical, she was an amazing cook, and she had an intrinsically selfless quality that improved the lives of anyone and everyone around her. She will be missed by so many people in all kinds of different groups and communities. She believed in generosity, to live life with gusto, to love all creatures, and to always be supportive of each other. We will all do our best to continue to live our lives with these qualities to honour her and to strive to be as good a human being as she was. She is survived by her husband, Howard Gerwing, children, Katherine Stanhope (married to Ian), Liz Steward (married to Lance), stepson Benjamin Gerwing (married to Debra), along with grandchildren, Jane and Samantha (Liz), and Alex, Graham and Emma (Benjamin). The entire family will miss her terribly, but will bond together in an effort to be strong in her memory. We will fulfill her dreams for us to be happy and to help the world be a better place. It is hard to say good-bye to someone who has touched such an incredible number of people, but we are going to try. On Friday, June 2nd, there will be a small service for immediate family and close friends at the First Memorial in Duncan at 1:00 pm. There will be a small reception to follow. Further to the service, Marina told Liz that she wanted a party. So, on Sunday, June 4th at 3:00 pm we are going to do just that. Please come join us to celebrate Oma’s life at Just Jake’s and The Craig Street Brewpub. Arrangements under the direction of First Memorial Funeral Services, Duncan, BC.

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