Ilya Jung, a long-time resident of Arras, BC, passed away on Saturday, December 1, 2018 in Dawson Creek, BC at the age of 96 years.
How do you fit in one paragraph, or even on one page, what an amazing woman ILYA JUNG was? Strong, loving, talented, smart, and busy, she wasn’t just Mom to her seven kids but to many of their friends that called her Mom or Mother Jung.
Ilya was born January 21, 1922 in Colorado Springs to Osia Evelyn and Conrad C. Gephardt. Two brothers completed the family in a few short years, Alvie and Floyd. Sadly, her parents separated, and she didn’t see her dad for many years. She became a survivor at an early age and passed that strength (along with her stubbornness), onto most of her offspring. Her family teased her a lot in later life about not having any common sense at times, but she certainly excelled in ingenuity and tenacity. Once when she went off on foot to bring the milk cows home, she got lost. It was across the road from our farm and getting darker and darker. So, she just climbed a tree to be safe from varmints and roosted there with the grouse, knowing someone would eventually come looking for her, and they did.
She met and married a dashing cowboy, John Wright, and they had three girls – Connie, Shirley and Donna. Unfortunately, they, too, separated after a time and eventually she married Karl (known as Bub) Jung. They had three children while still living in Colorado – Lyle, Judy, and Karla. Then in 1957 they packed up the family and possessions and moved to Canada where they settled in Arras, British Columbia. Deanna was born here and a foster brother, John Ramstead, was added to the mix as well. Mom was a hard worker and took to farming, surviving many of her husband’s long absences and thrived. Having raised chickens and rabbits in the States, she soon adapted to raising and butchering cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys, all without running water or electricity. She learned to run a combine and milk cows and fix fences. She always had a huge garden, sometimes three of them. During this time, she developed a passion for bee keeping. She loved picking berries and canning. One day when picking blackberries on the Island she pushed her way too deep into the bushes to get “the best ones” that she got trapped by the clutching brambles. We had to almost cut her out. We loved and supported her totally and she gave of herself totally.
She was a hard worker and there wasn’t much she wouldn’t set her hand to. Unfortunately, she worked on her own a lot. One time after a big snowfall she was coming out of the chicken house or granary or something and bumped the edge and the snow fell off the roof, knocking her down and burying her. She couldn’t move, and snow was lodged behind her glasses and she thought she was blind! She was finally able to roll over and dig herself out. Another time she was roof raking the snow off her trailer and it came tumbling down and knocked her off her feet again. The snow was too deep for her to get her hands down and push herself up, so she told Honey, a dog she was babysitting, to go get Jim (her son-in-law who lived next door at that time). We found out later that Honey had indeed come over to get Jim, but he didn’t speak “dog” and didn’t get it. Again, Mom managed to roll around until she could find something to help her stand up. Boy, did we ever hear about that!
Some time after Bub left for good, and went back to the States, Mom heard that the Department of Agriculture was looking for a bee inspector. She applied and got the job becoming the first ever female Provincial Bee Inspector in North America (so we were told). She worked there from 1974 to 1987, when she had to retire at 65, and not because she wanted to! How cool is that, getting a dream job that actually paid her to do her greatest love – BEES. She went on to keep her hand in beekeeping for most of her life, whether on her own or helping and mentoring others, and generally just being available whenever needed. She received quite a few awards and certificates for judging all kinds of things through 4-H and Fall Fairs – honey, seeds, plants, baking, you name it! Her old boss, Doug McCutcheon said she even had to judge horses in Fort St. John once! Doug also told the story of an inspection trip to Terrace, where Mom left early in the morning and ended up getting tired at about Smithers, so she got a room for the night about 7 pm. She was so tired that she fell across the bed fully clothed and when she woke up, totally refreshed at about 10, she thought it was morning when it was still that same evening. She continued her way and wondered why it was getting darker rather than lighter, but it was cloudy, so she just thought a storm was moving in. Then her usual restaurant wasn’t open when she came to it and she was really confused as it was already 10:30. It wasn’t until she arrived in Terrace that she finally clued into it being midnight of the same day she left and not noon of the next day. So, she had to get another room for the night. Doug says she submitted receipts for both rooms (another first time for the Ag Dept) and she was paid, no question, but probably with a lot of teasing over the years.
Mom always loved crafts, knitting and embroidery. She was always buying stuff on her many travels, both while inspecting and when she went on trips to China and New Zealand on bee business. After retirement she got involved with a few local artists and they formed “The Handy Crafters Co-op”. She enjoyed many years helping in their little store wherever they could set up shop. She amassed way more crafts than she was ever able to complete in a lifetime. That and her collection of books were legendary. She had so much stuff that one time she tripped and when she fell amongst the stuff a broom or mop handle went up the back of her sweatshirt and she was suspended in mid air and couldn’t reach the floor. Connie was the rescuer but was laughing so hard that it took a while to get her down.
Mom was always talking about when her ship came in and her grandson Skeeder remembers another funny episode. Skeeder told his step mom Bonnie that his Grandma Ilya had a ship, to which Bonnie responded, “I’m pretty sure your Grandma doesn’t have a ship…”. This upset Skeeder. He said, “Yes, she told me she has a ship, and my grandma doesn’t lie! If she says she has a ship, she has a ship!” We realized later that Grandma had not only talked about her ship coming in, but she also had a picture of a ship on her wall, which Skeeder assumed was hers. Obviously, it was real to a little boy. Mom used that expression so often that another grandson, Clint, said “Grandma, I think your ship has sunk!”
When dementia started encroaching on her life after the loss of her eldest daughter, her only son, and her long-time home, we moved her into town, but she never liked it and never adapted. She lived almost 3 years in Lac La Hache and Williams Lake with daughter Judy, but she moved back home to Dawson Creek when she was diagnosed with cancer this summer. The Peace River area is where she always called home and that’s where she wanted to be. She lost her battle with cancer on December 1, 2018 at 5 AM through a series of strokes. Isn’t it fitting that she found peace in the Peace? Rest in peace Mom. We all knew you were ready.
Ilya was predeceased by her mother and step-father Evelyn (Osia) and George Posinak, her father and step-mother, C. C. Gephardt and Viola (Susan), her two brothers, Alvie and Floyd, her eldest daughter Connie, son Lyle, and foster son John, second husband Bub Jung and great-grandchild Derek.
Leaving to mourn her loss, her first husband John Wright, children Shirley, Donna (Dale), Judy (Jim), Karla, and Deanna (Brian), 15 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren, as well as 3 great-great grandchildren, extended family and of course many, many good friends.
The family would like to thank the people that provided loving care and encouragement to Mom and to us when her health started to decline. Here are some of them: Dr. Routtu and the Williams Lake Hospital staff that cared for her so efficiently when she was first diagnosed, the staff at the Deni House in Williams Lake Respite and Adult Day Care, Dr. Larsen (what a guy!) and the Imaging Staff at the Dawson Creek Hospital after we moved her home, Dr. Botha Jr. and his staff that Mom loved, and all the Home Care teams and Nurses that cared for her in Williams Lake and here. Thank you to all the friends that called and came to see her since she came home and kept her in their thoughts and prayers. We are sure some will be overlooked, and we apologize if you aren’t named but don’t doubt that you were appreciated. THANK YOU!
A celebration of Ilya’s life was held on Saturday, December 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm at the Peace Chapel Mission, Progress, BC. Pastor Lee Stephenson officiated. Interment followed in the Groundbirch Mountainview Cemetery.
For friends so wishing, donations may be made in memory of Ilya to the Canadian Cancer Society of BC, 565 West 10 Avenue, Vancouver, BC V5Z4J4, or the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon, 1480-7 Avenue, Prince George, BC V2L 3P2.
Very Respectfully Reynars Funeral Home & Crematorium