It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Elena (Helen) Urbanec (nee Sitarikova) at age 72 on May 1, 2019 at Dorothy Ley Hospice in Toronto from a sudden illness. Predeceased by her beloved mother, Jozefina Sitarikova, and her loving husband, Rudolph (Rudy) Urbanec (d. 2010), Elena leaves behind her cherished daughter Elizabeth Sinasac, son-in-law Brian, twin granddaughters Emilia and Fiona, and many extended family and friends in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Ontario, Quebec, Florida and Michigan. Elena will be particularly missed by Rudy's children Sue (Mark Kruk) and Rudy Urbanec (Karen), grandchildren Rachel Kruk and Steven Kruk (Jessica), and great-grandchildren Hailey, Aiden and Grayson Kruk.
Born on August 13, 1946 in Breza, Slovakia, Elena lived a life marked by loving family, bravery, and compassionate friendship. On tragically losing her mother, Jozefina, as a young teen in Slovakia, a loss which she felt keenly throughout her life, Elena was warmheartedly welcomed into the home of her maternal Aunt Helenka, Uncle Misko, cousins Viliam and Peter, and her maternal grandmother, Babka Bakosova, of Bratislava. Like so many other young people who were leaving Czechoslovakia at the time, Elena immigrated to Windsor, Ontario in her early twenties, and took on the challenge of living in a new country and learning a new language with enthusiasm and vigour. Despite her life’s early hardship, Elena was an open and affectionate woman who made friends, and maintained relationships, easily. Nearly fifty years later, many of the numerous Slovak and Czech friends she made on her arrival to Windsor remained an active part of her life to the end.
During her years in Windsor, Elena was a devoted mother to her beloved daughter Elizabeth. Through her example and strength, Elena impressed upon her daughter the importance of selflessness, kindness and family. They shared a tremendously special and unbreakable bond that will be Elena’s legacy.
In 1993, Elena married the love of her life, Rudy, and moved to Warren, Michigan, where she embraced his children and formed particularly strong relationships with grandchildren Rachel and Steven. She so dearly loved Rudy, and found profound joy and happiness in their life together. They had an open door to visitors and often had family and friends stop by for a weekday meal or drink, and hosted memorable Christmas dinners every year. Always active, and with a shared zest for fun, they spent weekends happily dancing polkas and singing folk songs with their many friends on both sides of the border. Their love of family took them on frequent trips to Slovakia and the Czech Republic to spend countless hours visiting their many relatives. Elena also took great pleasure in exploring the woods around her home with her dear friends and neighbours, watching the deer and foxes, and noticing the budding wildflowers.
Shortly after Rudy's passing, Elena courageously left her life in Michigan behind, and moved to Toronto, Ontario to be closer to Elizabeth and Brian. Over the course of her seven years in Toronto, she made cherished new friends at The Second Mile Club, and continued her passions of gardening, sewing, cooking, and taking care of those around her. She was blessed by the arrival of granddaughters Emilia and Fiona, whom she adored to no end, and who, in her, found a treasured and devoted "Grandma Helen”. She loved sewing dresses for their dolls, watching their swimming lessons, attending regular family dinners, and being part of their daily lives. Her family will always remember their frequent outings to apple orchards and strawberry patches, and their summer family vacations. An avid gardener, Elena could make any plant or flower flourish. She spent hours with her daughter and granddaughters caring for the gardens around Elizabeth’s home, with the fruits of last year’s attentive labour now blooming for all to enjoy. Elena was a constant, caring presence throughout Emilia and Fiona's lives, and will surely be watching over them from Heaven. In her final days, she asked her loving friends and co-grandparents Grandma Connie and Grandpa Ted to watch over their girls on Earth.
Those who knew Elena will remember her kind and gentle nature. She was a sensitive soul, who always made time to listen to others. Even in her final days in hospice, she was concerned with the comfort of her visitors, frequently asking if they would like a cup of coffee or something to eat, and worrying whether out-of-town visitors had a place to stay. The numerous calls, cards, flowers and visits she received from so many are a testament to her impact on those fortunate enough to have known her. She was loved and will be remembered. We take comfort in knowing that she will be hugging her mother Jozefina, and singing and dancing with Rudy, up in Heaven.
Elena was a Catholic and found solace in her faith. A funeral mass will be held on Monday, May 20, 2019 at 10 am at St. Paul of Tarsus Church, 41300 Romeo Plank Road, Clinton Township, Michigan, followed by interment of her ashes at Resurrection Cemetery, 18201 Clinton River Road, Clinton Township, Michigan, and a luncheon at Fern Hill Golf Club, 17600 Clinton River Rd, Clinton Township. In lieu of flowers, donations in Elena's memory can be made to Dorothy Ley Hospice, where she spent her final days. Special thanks to the staff and volunteers for the excellent care they provided. Online condolences can be made at www.hogle.ca.