GAYLEEN MARIANN SZLAUKO (nee GUNDERSON)

September 24, 1939 – May 22, 2023

With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of Gayleen at Rainy River Long-Term Care facility. Gayleen passed away peacefully with her son Bob and daughter Sandy by her side.

Gayleen was predeceased by her husband and soulmate William (Bill) Paul Szlauko; youngest daughter Coreen O’Connor (Szlauko); sons-in-law Ken O’Connor and Mark Hopkins; her parents Magnus and Ann (Person) Gunderson; father-in-law Paul Szlauko and mother-in-law and Anna Szlauko (nee Marai); brother Glen Gunderson and sister-in-law Silvia Gunderson.

Gayleen leaves behind her son Bob Szlauko; daughter Sandy (Tim) Spence; grandchildren Matthew and Torrie Spence, Tyler and Paige O’Connor; numerous nieces and nephews, greatnieces and nephews, a great-great-niece and nephew; brother Morley (Melanie) Gunderson; and brother-in-law John Szlauko.

Gayleen and Bill first met on a blind date. They married on August 21, 1959, and together they raised their children Bob, Sandy, and Coreen. Gayleen had an extensive teaching career that began in Slate River, where she taught 46 grade 5/6 children. She later taught at Blue, Gameland, Alexandria and Riverview schools. Over the next ten years, she taught at The White Kindergarten on First Street in Rainy River and never missed a single day of work. Gayleen had a way making her students feel valued and important. She was as much a part of her students’ lives as she was of her own children’s lives. She was admired for her positive attitude and outlook on life. She always said, “To teach is to touch a life” and was very proud of her 38-year career, at the same time always present in her home as a loving, patient, and caring mother.

Gayleen adored her four grandchildren, treasured their visits, and reviewed every detail of their schoolwork at the end of the school year. Gayleen was a huge fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and loved going to the arena, playing bingo and casino hopping. Her fondest memories included exploring the country with Bill in their motor home, picnics, family vacations, traveling convoys with friends, and spending time up at Rocky Inlet with family. Gayleen and Bill took pride in building houses and a cabin. She was a landlord for 50 years! In the Szlauko home, it was typical to see regular card parties, music hoedowns, or Gayleen and Bill just dancing in the living room. Gayleen had a great sense of humour and her laugh was infectious. Many tears of laughter were shed just sitting around having coffee.

Gayleen’s passion was music. She earned a grade 10 in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music, as well as a Rose Bowl award. Additionally, she competed in various singing competitions.

Family was important to Gayleen. She looked forward to her weekly phone calls with her brother Morley and kept in touch with her brother-in-law John and her many, many close friends. She was a member of the Moose Lodge in Baudette, Minnesota. Gayleen managed to remain in her own home in her later years supported by her son Bob until she eventually entered the Rainy River Long-Term Care facility.

In following Gayleen’s wishes, a graveside service and interment alongside her husband Bill will take place at a later date at Forest Lawn Cemetery (Rainy River), with long-time family friend Pat White officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations to a charity of your choosing are gratefully welcomed.

Arrangements entrusted to Northridge Funeral Home Ltd. Emo, Ontario

Miss you forever mom!

Everything Mom

How did you find the energy, Mom
To do all the things you did.
To be a teacher, nurse and counsellor
To me when I was a kid.
How did you do it all, Mom
Be a chauffeur, cook and friend,
Yet find time to be a playmate,
I just can’t comprehend.
I see now it was love, Mom
That made you come whenever I’d call
Your inexhaustible love, Mom
And I thank you for it all.
-Joanna Fuchs