Monday, March 14, 2016

Remembering Aunt Marie

Marie Jmieff Demoskoff
Marie on her 85th birthday (2009)

My husband’s aunt, Marie Demoskoff, passed away one month ago today. She had been ill for a few months, but “passed peacefully with loved ones by her side” on 14 February 2016.

Marie, one of seven children of William and Polly (Wishlow) Jmieff, was born on 18 March 1924 in the village of Veregin, Saskatchewan. In 1942, she married George Demoskoff, an elder brother of Michael’s father, William The couple had three daughters, Diane, Kathy, and (the late) Clara.

It was with some sadness that Michael and I travelled to Grand Forks, British Columbia, where his aunt had lived for over seventy years, to attend her funeral.

Traditional bread salt and water
Bread, salt and water are always present

Marie had a traditional Doukhobor funeral. On Friday evening, the family, relatives and friends gathered at the funeral home. Russian prayers were said, followed by recollections of past times.

Guest book and display
Guest book and display at U.S.C.C. Centre

The next morning, Michael and I drove to the nearby Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ (U.S.C.C.) Community Centre, where he and the other pallbearers met. The first part of the funeral, lasting a little over an hour, was for the family, a sort of last private viewing. At 10 a.m., the bilingual (Russian and English) ceremony began. Jerry Seminoff, friend of the family, officiated. Formal greetings, prayers, psalms, and eulogies, marked the two-hour service. I found it all very moving, especially when the congregation sang traditional hymns and prayers. (All Doukhobor singing is done a cappella.) John J. Verigin, Jr., Head (Executive Director) of the U.S.C.C., spoke well of Marie’s contributions to her faith, her family, her community, and her years of volunteer work.


Afterwards, we left for the cemetery, where a brief interment service took place. We returned to the U.S.C.C. Centre for luncheon – borscht (Doukhobor-style), lapsha (egg noodles), and homemade bread.

The family after luncheon
Family (left) and ladies (right) who prepared the luncheon

In the evening, Michael and I visited his cousins Diane and Kathy and other relatives at Marie’s old home. Diane’s husband, Fred, gave me a copy of the eulogy and I quoted from it earlier in this article.


On Sunday morning, we returned home. My husband Michael has fond memories of his Aunt, especially of the time when he lived with Marie and George after he first moved to BC in the early 1970s.

Vechnaya Pamyat, Aunt Marie.

Copyright © 2016, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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