Carol Leszcz was the kind of person you would want with you if you were ever stranded on a deserted island.
She was a great problem solver with a take-charge personality, a remarkable sense of direction and a refreshing sense of humour. She was smart, sensible and both physically and mentally strong, as well as resourceful, creative and positive.
Even in the face of the untimely deaths of her brother and parents and her own unforgiving illness, she remained insistent that life was good and that she had been blessed.
Carol was raised in Winnipeg's north end by her parents, Hymie and Molly Leszcz, and learned the lessons of generosity, compassion and humility from them first hand. She received her education from parochial elementary school and public high school, and spent her summers at Camp Massad. There, her artistic talents blossomed and her bold, colourful backdrops for theatrical productions became the standard by which all future ones were judged. In the five summers that she served as camp program director - much of the time in rubber boots - Carol discovered she had a natural gift for working with children.
She parlayed this affinity for children into a 27-year-career teaching junior kindergarten at Jewish day schools in Winnipeg. Work days were spent on the floor with the kids, doling out hugs, or tissues for runny noses, reading aloud, making art and singing songs in Hebrew and English. For the hundreds of three- and four-year-olds lucky enough to be placed in Carol's classroom, she served as the best possible introduction to school - a warm, loving, funny teacher.
The love and attention Carol bestowed on her students was surpassed only by the love and attention she conferred upon her family and friends, and her golden retrievers. She spent 25 years nurturing her husband, Rob Waldman, and children Ben and Sari. They were the lights of her life.
Carol's friends were constant recipients of her small acts of kindness. She made daily phone calls to check on their well-being, designed invitations and centrepieces for their milestone events, illustrated their books, colour-coordinated their living rooms and shared her recipes.
Carol loved to cook for those she cared about, especially at her family cottage in Loni Beach, Gimli. There, the door was always open, the grill always hot and the crossword puzzle always done. Carol was a whiz at word games, and had a remarkable memory for phone numbers and licence plates.
On Aug. 28, Carol celebrated her 52nd birthday with family and close friends, cautiously but characteristically optimistic that a cure might be in sight. Two months later she passed away. More than 600 people attended her funeral.
Sharon Chisvin is Carol's friend.
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