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Born: Oct 08, 1924

Date of Passing: Mar 29, 2021

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After a prolonged period of poor health, Mindel (Rady) Olenick passed away, at home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Monday, March 29, 2021, at the age of 96.
She is survived by: her daughters and sons-in-law, Gail and Arne Wagner of Piedmont, CA, Debby and Brian Hirsch of Winnipeg, and Roberta Olenick of Vancouver; her grandchildren, Laura Wagner (Seth LeJacq), Moshe (Chani) Hirsch and Aron Hirsch; and her six great-grandchildren. She is also survived by: her sister Marjorie Blankstein; her brother Ernest (Evelyn) Rady; her sister-in-law Bess Plosker; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends in Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton, Vancouver, San Diego and Hawaii. She was predeceased in 2007 by her beloved spouse of almost 60 years, Tom. She was also predeceased by: her parents, Rose and Max Rady; her parents-in-law, Anna and Zalman Olenick; and her brothers-in-law and sister-in-law, Morley Blankstein, Eva and Max Natch, Edel Direnfeld and Max Plosker.
Mindel was born in Winnipeg on October 8, 1924, the oldest child of Max and Rose Rady. As a child, she loved animals including her treasured pet rat, Oscar. She was fascinated by wild creatures of all types, especially the tadpoles, frogs and toads she found in ponds, ditches and on beaches near the family cottage in Gimli. She never outgrew this fascination, passing on to her children not only an inordinate fondness for amphibians but also one of her greatest gifts, an immense reverence for all of nature.
She had a brilliant mind and excelled at school. She graduated from Kelvin High at the top of her class and was named school valedictorian. She then earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Manitoba followed by a year of work in microbiology at the renowned Banting Institute in Toronto. She returned to Winnipeg where, on June 11, 1947, she married Tom Olenick who had proposed to her a few years earlier on their very first date while they were both students at the University of Manitoba.
The most important things in the world to Mindel were her husband and three daughters and then later on, her sons-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well. Her love for them ran deep. With each and every one of them, she nurtured special bonds that honoured their individual personalities, interests and needs. She always wanted for them whatever they truly wanted for themselves and selflessly supported them in whatever way she could. Her children could not have had a more patient tutor for math and physics problems, or a better term paper editor. She was equally adept at teaching practical skills such as defensive driving, swimming and snorkelling. Whenever her daughters struggled with challenging conflict situations, she was always able to come up with creative win-win resolutions. She provided tender emotional support, sage advice and tireless nurturing. Without ever expecting or wanting anything in return, she was always there in every way not only for her immediate family but also for her extended family and friends. She was much loved by everyone for her wisdom and her warmth.
Through both word and especially deed, Mindel taught her children the importance of compassion and empathy. She was always able to see things from the perspective of others and thus treated everyone with kindness and respect. This did not just apply to people but to animals as well. She exemplified diligence, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, reliability and above all, keeping your word. If she said she would do something, you could count on her to do it without fail. She was very proud of the fact that, in her words, "I taught you kids to be reliable and stick to your word, and you all mastered the lesson."
Characteristic of Mindel was her unwavering positive outlook on life. She was truly content with herself and her circumstances. More than once she said, "You know, I know people who keep wishing they were younger than they are. Not me - I have always liked whatever age I am right now." (Though in her early 90s she did admit to wishing to be 85 again because she was still able to drive then.) She always looked for the best in people, the silver lining to the dark cloud. She believed that things would almost always work out for the best and, if not, she knew she could handle it. With her calm confidence and clear perspective, she was unflappable!
Mindel's remarkable intelligence was evident in the varied personal interests she pursued. As an adult she learned to speak and read Hebrew fluently. She loved to play Bridge and earned some master points. She patiently solved the hardest crossword puzzles. Fixing electrical, plumbing and mechanical things around the house was a fun challenge for her keen and logical mind. She carefully followed current events, especially those concerning Israel and the Middle East. She always asked a lot of questions and loved to learn, especially about science, medicine, conservation and the environment.
Throughout her life, Mindel donated time, labour and financial resources to numerous worthwhile charities that reflected her interests and concerns. She was, together with her husband, a generous contributor to organizations dedicated to Israel and the Jewish community. In her younger years, she was active in Hadassah and served for two years as chair for the United Jewish Appeal-Women's Division. More recently, she became an enthusiastic supporter of Technion. She also strongly supported the advancement of medical science. Together with Tom, and since his death, she established a number of scholarships and contributed to projects in the areas of medical research and education. She funded the first hospital building of her daughter Gail's Matibabu project to transform medical care in a rural region of Kenya. The Canadian Museum of Human Rights and the environmental law group Ecojustice also benefited from her generosity.
Mindel Olenick was truly an exceptional person. Her passing has left a void in the lives of all those she touched. She will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered.
The family expresses heartfelt thanks to the team from HomeInstead for their tireless, loving care of Mindel, making it possible for her to remain at home until her very last day. We extend particular thanks to those who were with her the longest: Edna, Rosemarie, Jessielyn and Dolores.
A private graveside service was held on March 31, 2021 at Shaarey Zedek Cemetery with Rabbi Kliel Rose officiating. Pallbearers were Brian Hirsch, Sydney O'Bray and David Salita. Pallbearers in absentia (due to Covid) were Arne Wagner, Laura Wagner, Moshe Hirsch, Aron Hirsch, Alan Direnfeld, Gary Direnfeld and Donald Rady. Honorary pallbearers were Marjorie Blankstein, Ernest and Evelyn Rady, Bess Plosker, Bryan Natch, Barry Tessler, Arlene Wall, Gloria Mendelson and Milton and Brenda Tenenbein.
Donations in Mindel's memory can be made to Technion Canada, Suite 206-970 Lawrence Avenue West, Toronto, ON M6A 3B6, (Tel: 416-789-4545) or to a charity of your choice.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 10, 2021

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