March 14, 1938 – September 30, 2019
Veronika Kassay, 81, passed away after a long illness at Purdy Pavilion-UBC Hospital in Vancouver, on September 30, 2019. She is survived by her children and step children and their spouses or significant others, Zoltan and Marguerite Benkő, Klari (Benkő) Aitken and Greg Aitken, Krisztina Kassay and Brian Saunders, Kathy (Kassay) Nuszdorfer and Fred Nuszdorfer, Bonnie Kassay and Stephen Ferguson, her grandchildren, Tim Aitken, Emily (Aitken) McGloin and Joseph McGloin, Kamilla (Benkő) Ficnar and Andrej Ficnar, Gabriella Benkő and Matthias Benkő, and her first husband Géza Benkő. She was predeceased by her second husband Viktor Kassay.
Veronika was born in Beregszász, a small town in the Carpathian Mountains, to the late Edward and Szeréna Stenzinger on March 14, 1938. Due to the Second World War, her early childhood was marked by upheaval and near poverty as the family fled from advancing troops to safer locations in Hungary. The family eventually settled in Sopron, where her father was an accountant for the city and where she completed high school.
In Sopron, she met and married Geza Benkő, a forestry student attending the University of Sopron at the time. Within a year, however, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution interrupted their plans. Joining the thousands of refugees that fled the country, approximately half of the university faculty, staff and student body, along with their families, crossed the border into Austria. From there, the group made its way to western Canada, boarding an ocean liner in Liverpool, England on New Year's Eve and then riding a train across the frozen landscape from New Brunswick to British Columbia.
Her husband finished his studies and eventually was employed by the British Columbia Forest Service. She worked modest jobs such as cleaning houses and washing dishes to help make ends meet. They started a family, Zoltán was born near the end of the decade and Klári a few years later, but eventually divorced. Veronika attended Vancouver City College, where she earned a diploma in Nutrition and Food Service Management in the early seventies. She married Viktor Kassay, a forest engineer from the University of Sopron, at this time and later gave birth to Krisztina. Viktor had two children from a previous marriage, Kathy and Bonnie, who were also considered part of the family, though they lived primarily with their mother when they were young.
Veronika held a number of positions in the food service industry, the most significant and longest being at a government sponsored drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation centre. Here she ran the kitchen and was appreciated for her diligence in ensuring her patients had nutritious meals every day.
When she retired, she devoted her time to her family, helping her children and grandchildren in any way she could. Veronika served as a focal point for many family gatherings and is fondly remembered for her magnificent cooking skills. She often helped older friends and neighbors as well, by visiting, preparing food or doing small errands. Veronika had an unshakeable faith in God and trusted in His providence. She was generous to a fault, and cared deeply for the world around her. She will be forever remembered as a mother and grandmother who was always willing to listen and to give comfort. May she rest in peace.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 2:00 pm at First Hungarian Presbyterian Church, 2791 E 27th Ave, Vancouver, BC V5R 1N4, Canada
- Celebration of Life Saturday, October 12, 2019