A Life's Story
July 24, 2021
Compassion and dedication
Whether on the beat or at the bakery, Crystal Einfeld had your back
By: Geoff Kirbyson
With a last name like Einfeld, it’s not a matter of if you go into the family business, but when.
Crystal Einfeld was 14 years old when she first donned an apron at Einfeld’s Bakery, the iconic bakeshop at Victoria Beach famous for its dream cookies, face cookies, cinnamon buns, white Irish bread and pecan loaves.
A couple of years later, she was hired at Safeway in Winnipeg where the cakes she decorated were too good to eat.
"She did that because that’s what we do," says older brother Brad Einfeld, who has run the family bakery for four-and-a-half decades.
"She’d still come out and help (at the Victoria Beach bakery) on the weekends to give us a hand. She never really got into trouble. We sort of broke the ice for her. Her brothers were a lot worse than she was."
Einfeld lost a brave battle with colon cancer in May. She is survived by her children, Bailey and Riley Slobodesky, her partner, Ken Lepage, her mom Carole Tiefenbach (Wilf), her father Chuck Einfeld (Pauline), brothers Brad Einfeld (Janice), Sheldon Einfeld, nephews, Jared (Roxanna) and Blake (Anna) Einfeld and families, and her great-nephew Ernest.
Nancy Lecuyer met Einfeld in Grade 5 at Tyndall Park School and their friendship lasted more than 40 years, including going to Sisler High School, getting married, having children and the more than occasional good time.
"She was a lot of fun. We played sports together, we partied together and dated boys together. She was always up to go to the beach or suntan or hang out. She was very funny and reliable. She was just a good friend. She always had your back," she says.
The first sport they played together was baseball at their community club. That was followed by volleyball, basketball, softball, field hockey, ball hockey, sponge hockey and rugby.
"She loved horses and she played polo for a little while," too.
Einfeld even helped Lecuyer get a job at Safeway in high school, which helped her earn tuition money for university. Einfeld always gave her a great cake for her birthday, too.
"There would be extra strawberries in the filling," she says. "When we worked together, we’d always take our breaks together. She showed me how much grease was in a doughnut by squishing it."
Einfeld met Winnipeg Police Service Det.-Sgt. Ken Lepage in 2004. It wasn’t love at first sight but the respect and admiration they developed for each other on the force resulted in romance a decade later.
Lepage says Einfeld was a very compassionate police officer who integrated her maternal instincts into her job.
"I’d be frustrated arresting the same youths over and over while she’d treat them like they were her kids. Sometimes, she’d give them some of her own lunch. She would spend time with each of them and she even got to know their families. We would go to the house and she’d know the mom and dad’s names and sit down with them. She certainly had a compassion for people," he says.
"Sometimes families would get frustrated because their kid keeps getting arrested. She would get the family on board to help get the kid turned around. The family would call her and say, ‘I’m having trouble with him or her, what do you think?’ and she’d give them advice."
The same instincts that made Einfeld a top-notch police officer served her well when she was off the clock, too.
"She kept an eye on her Bailey and Riley to make sure they were safe. If they got a new boyfriend or moved into a new place, she’d ask, ‘what does he do? Who are the neighbours?’ She did it in a sneaky way so she knew what was going on," he says.
Einfeld never lost her love of baking, either, long after she stopped getting paid for it.
"Her birthday cakes were made with a little extra love," Lepage says. "She made them all fancy and added all of the little designs. They were really something. And at Christmas, you’ve never seen a bigger selection of cookies in your life. There would be 15 different kinds and multiple dozens of them so everybody got a tin full of cookies, or two, to take home," he says.
Einfeld’s last partner on the beat was Dru McCormick. The two became friends while working out of the East District Station and eventually were assigned to work together.
"She was the perfect partner," McCormick says. "We were on the same page. We policed the same and had the same work ethic. We worked special duty and we took care of each other," she says.
"We would turn up the radio and start singing in the cruiser car. People would look at us funny. It was just two female cops getting down. She loved her country music. If you can’t laugh on this job, you’re never going to make it to 25 years. We were going to retire together."
The Winnipeg Police Service gave Einfeld a formal send off with an end of watch, last call and procession.
"Constable Einfeld, badge number 2283," said the voice from dispatch over the radio while fellow officers stood at attention. "Constable Einfeld, your watch has ended. We’ll take it from here."
McCormick says she never knew anybody who worked as hard as Einfeld. She’d be on the beat until 2:30 a.m. and up at dawn to make lunch for her husband and then work in her yard and garden.
"I’d be the one to set people off and she’d be the one to calm them down. I had no patience and she always did," she says.
Even during her illness, she regularly baked cookies for her fellow officers and employees at the station.
"She was loved by our whole shift. Even when she had cancer, she didn’t want anybody feeling sorry for her," she says.
Lecuyer believes a brief period working as a dental hygienist downtown may have contributed to Einfeld’s desire to be a police officer.
"She saw a lot of inner-city kids there and sometimes their teeth were so neglected. I believe she thought if she became a cop, she could help them in some way," she says.
Her main focus as always, though, was Bailey and Riley.
"In the end, all she wanted was the best for her kids, for them to have a chance to have a great life. That’s all that mattered to her," Lecuyer says.