March 16, 1933 – Sept. 4, 2006
With great sadness, we are announcing the passing of Mirka, after a long and brave struggle with ALS. Mirka succumbed peacefully on September 4, 2006.
She leaves behind her loving husband Fanda, of 53 year marriage, daughter Ivana Barber (Tony) and grandchildren Jackie and Alex, son Peter (Viera), her brother Wes Riha (Millie), and nieces Zuzana Driediger (Randy), their children Zev and Taya, Vendy Wasylyk (Mark), their son Nick, and nephew Dusan Drbohlav (Sarka), their children Sasa, Kuba, Andrejka, and Vlada husband of Mirka’s sister in-law.
Mirka was born in Prague in former Czechoslovakia. She graduated from the Bata Company school where she acquired professional training for the manufacture of shoes.
She devoted her free time to sports, mostly track and field and skiing. She loved sports so much that she went on to study at Prague Sport Institute and graduated as a teacher and coach of physical education. During her studies she became keenly involved in track and field. With her teammates she succeeded in achieving a new national record in the 10x100m relay. After her marriage to Fanda in 1953 she expanded her interest in sports by joining him in doubles canoe racing in white water slalom and down river categories. Within a short period, they reached Czechoslovakias top rank in the mixed doubles canoe category.
After the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Army, Mirka and her husband decided to leave their homeland, mostly for the sake of their children (then 13-year-old Ivana and eight-year-old Peter), to enable them to grow up in a free and democratic country. Canada at that time opened her doors to refugees from Czechoslovakia. Mirka and her family thankfully accepted the invitation to immigrate with hope for a better life and future. In November 1968 they arrived in Chilliwack, their first destination in Canada, and that is where they settled.
Mirka started to work in the kitchen of the Harrison Hot Springs Hotel, and later worked as a waitress. From 1974, for several years she operated her own coffee shop “Cosy Cafe” on Main St. In addition to her work in 1969, she pioneered Chilliwacks first “Gymnastics With Music” and the very popular volleyball classes for women. Before retiring in 1990, she was a cook for several years in the Sardis Army Base, where she made many friends. She was a beacon of joy and cheerfulness to the young soldiers who treated her as their mother.
In Canada she continued to enjoy canoe racing. She won the mixed doubles for several years in the annual Hope River Rosedale – Chilliwack canoe race. Her favorite river was the Chilliwack River, which she would many times canoe with her husband. During winters in the seventies she pioneered cross country skiing, which at that time was novel in B.C. In 1973, together with her husband, her brother Wes, and her children Ivana and Peter they built their Chilliwack home, in which Mirka and her husband have been residing till now.
In 1990 Mirka retired, and since then together with her husband experienced the most wonderful period of her life. Their springs were spent in the Czech Republic, mostly in Mirka’s beloved historic city of Prague. In July and August they sailed their boat in the pure paradise of the Desolation Sound area. During fall in their RV, they were exploring new interesting places around B.C. and parts of Alberta. Winters were spent camping on undeveloped beaches of Baha California in Mexico.
Mirka will always be remembered for her love of others. She made everyone around her happy. Her generosity of spirit and her love knew no bounds.
The family would like to extend a special thanks of gratitude and recognition to the staff of Fraser Health Authority Home Support Service, the ALS Society, and all family friends for all their love, kindness, and support that helped Mirka during her struggle with ALS.
The family wishes to extend an invitation to anyone wishing to honour Mirkas life by attending the memorial service on September 11, at 2:30 pm at the Woodland Mt. Cheam Funeral Home located at 45865 Hocking Ave. Chilliwack, B.C. Tel (604) 793-4555.