The family of Ivan “John” Hryhorovch Danylchenko, age 98, are heartbroken to announce his passing on October 7, 2023 as the result of a tragic accident on his much-loved farm in London, Ontario.
Ivan was born in the village of Lutenka, in the Poltava Oblast of Ukraine on June 22, 1925. His parents were prosperous peasants who owned a small farm. In 1932 the communists confiscated all their assets due to collectivization. The family suffered through the terrible famine (Holodomor), which claimed the life of his young mother who had given her food to Ivan and his younger sister, Nastusia. Ivan would always be brought to tears whenever he would recount the death of his mother through starvation. Ivan may be seen telling the story of this period of his life on video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJybDLY362o
In 1943, as masses of people fled from a second wave of Soviet occupation, Ivan left home on foot, heading on a long journey westward with nothing but the clothes on his back. “Lice were devouring me and I could barely cope,” he said.
In the end, he ended up in Austria in 1944 where he worked as a firefighter. After the war ended, he worked for the British army until 1947 when he applied to immigrate to Canada. He quickly was accepted and left on a contract to work in the forests near Chapleau in northern Ontario.
In 1950 Ivan left Chapleau and moved to Toronto seeking new opportunities. He soon got a position at Massey-Ferguson where they manufactured agricultural implements including tractors, combines, etc. He worked there for 33 years until his retirement.
While working at Massey-Ferguson, Ivan frequented a restaurant run by the Bozdek family who were also recent immigrants, from the village of Opishnya in Poltava. There he met and fell in love with a waitress, Nadia Bozdek. They married in 1952 and had two sons, Gregory (1953) and Victor (1957). Ivan was proud to say that both of his sons finished 10 grades of Ukrainian school and to this day they speak fluent Ukrainian.
Throughout his life in Canada, Ivan was devoted to keeping alive the memory of his homeland. To that end, he took on many organizing and leadership roles in various community, church and youth organizations that benefitted both his beloved Ukraine and his adopted country of Canada.
He was extremely active with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Among his many duties over the years, he was head of the church council at St. Demetrius (3338 Lake Shore Blvd W.) in Etobicoke where he was also head of the Ukrainian school committee.
He organized and was director of summer camps for the Organization of Democratic Ukrainian Youth (ODUM) for 20 years both in Oakville and London Ontario. He was also the director of the St Volodymyr Cultural Centre in Oakville for five years, and served as a member and deputy chairman of the Cultural Centre in London.
For his work with youth, Ivan was awarded a Gold Trillium by the Province of Ontario. In addition, he was awarded a Certificate of Honour by the council of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Church for the hard work associated with the St. Volodymyr Cultural Centre in Oakville.
On his farm in London, Ivan was in his element. Those of us who had the good fortune to visit him there will remember him bombing around on his golf cart, walking in his hardwood forest, chopping wood for the winter, growing outsized garlic from Ukraine and puttering in barns fixing tractors. He was a man who could build anything out of anything. He had the ability to design an item in his head and then set about to create it. His work ethic could exhaust the rest of us. In his “spare” time, Ivan ran a commercial apple orchard on Indian Road in Mississauga (when it was still farmland), and subsequently acted as general contractor for a house he built there. Never one to be idle, in retirement Ivan bought the farm in London and renovated its century-old farmhouse, largely by himself.
To say that he was a survivor is an understatement. Although he was 98, his health was excellent and his death was truly unexpected. He had not only survived hardship in Ukraine, the Second World War and subsequent immigration to Canada, but he kept on overcoming whatever life threw at him.
Ivan is survived by his wife of 71 years, Nadia; sons Gregory (Janice Neelands) and Victor (Christina Broadbent); granddaughters Tamara Danylchenko and Alexa Danylchenko (Derek Foster); sisters-in-law Maria Dubyk and Zena Andrushenko; brother-in-law Walter Bozdek (Marta Kornijenko); nieces Vera and Nadia Dubyk; second cousin Lily Danylchenko Bellm (Richard Bellm) of Oakville; and family in Ukraine.
He was predeceased by his parents Gregory and Maria, sister Nastusia and brother Gregory, all of Ukraine; by his nephew Matviy Bozdek, cousin Wasyl “Bill” Danylchenko and brother-in-law Wasyl Dubyk, all of Toronto; and by his brother-in-law Walter Andrushenko of California.
He was truly a great man, much beloved by his family and by friends, many who have predeceased him.
May his memory be everlasting.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
October 15, 2023
Cardinal Funeral Homes - Bathurst Chapel
03:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Panachyda to take place at 3:30 p.m.
October 16, 2023
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Demetrius
October 16, 2023
St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery