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Home News Former Prince Albert MLA Kowalsky remembered for hard work, and ability to listen

Former Prince Albert MLA Kowalsky remembered for hard work, and ability to listen

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Former Prince Albert MLA Kowalsky remembered for hard work, and ability to listen
Myron Kowalsky was elected five times as an NDP MLA in Prince Albert. He passed away on June 8 at the age of 80. -- Photo from Arbor Memorial.

Prince Albert residents remembered Myron Kowalsky as a hard worker who excelled at hunting, fishing, teaching, and campaigning.

Kowalsky won five straight elections for the NDP in Prince Albert, starting in 1986. He passed away peacefully on June 8 at the age of 80.

“He was just an excellent candidate,” said Ed Leson, Kowalsky’s best friend and three-time campaign manager. “He was hard-working, and he was very good on the doorstep.”

Kowalsky won 55 per cent of the vote in his first election, then won again in ’91, ’95, ’99, and 2003. He served in several roles during his nearly 20 years in government, including Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. He was elected speaker in 2001 and again in 2004.

He also made a number of international trips, helping train teachers in The Gambia and Ukraine with Project Overseas, and working as an observer during the 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections.

Closer to home, Kowalsky was active in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and served on the board of the Ukrainian Museum of Canada.

“He really cared about people, especially the people who are less fortunate,” said Rose Rothenburger, who served as a constituency assistant to Kowalsky and fellow Prince Albert NDP MLA Eldon Lautermilch. “I remember we had people who were basically homeless. They would stop in at the office and he was the first one to give them a coffee and to sit down and talk. That’s just the way he was.”

Born in North Battleford on July 11, 1941, Kowalsky enrolled in the University of Saskatchewan after high school where he met his future wife, Olesia. He graduated with a degree in education and began teaching in Quill Lake, but later moved to Unity where he met Feson, then the principal of Unity Composite High School.

Kowalsky became vice-principal, and soon displayed the strong interpersonal skills that made him an effective politician.

“He was just very competent and very popular with students,” said Leson, who also taught with Kowalsky at Carlton Comprehensive High School, and the old Riverside High School in Prince Albert. “He had an ability to communicate with them, and to receive their communications. He often acted almost as a guidance councillor with them. He was excellent with students.”

Kowalsky moved his family to Prince Albert in 1967 and continued to teach until retiring in 1986. He entered politics the same year, something that didn’t surprise his close friends.

“I always knew that he was destined for things like that,” Leson said. “When he went into politics, I certainly supported it.

“He was a very good ‘constituency man’, as we call it. His office was always open, and he had very good people in his office, including Rose (Rothenburger) and Barb (Aspvik).”

Rothenburger began working as a constituency assistant for Kowalsky in 1991. She remembered him as someone who treated everyone well, even in the rough and tumble world of politics.

“I always knew that the reason he was there was that he really wanted to make changes,” she said. “He really wanted to try and make things better.”

Outside of politics, Kowalsky was an avid sportsman and crack shot. He travelled the province with friends on hunting and fishing expeditions, and enjoyed spending time with his family at their cabin in Candle Lake.

His funeral service was held Monday at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of Holy Trinity in Saskatoon.

Editor’s note: a previous version of this story incorrectly spelled Ed Leson’s last name. We apologize for the mistake.