Mr. Mitchell “Mike” Polushin of Rimbey, Alberta died at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, Red Deer on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at the age of 90 years.
Mike was born in Porshur, Russia on November 22, 1918, the son of Vladimir Polushin and Pasha Pletnova Polushina. Mike’s family fled their revolution-torn homeland when Mike was just a baby. Moving eastward, they settled in Siberia near Lake Baikal, and then in Harbin, China for a time. From there, along with hundreds of other Russian refugees, they moved to Western Canada in 1924. After living in a camp in the Springdale area, the Polushin family settled on a farm in the Homeglen district and Mike was one of a large group of Russian-speaking children in the Homeglen School, which he attended for about ten years. English soon became his primary language, but Mike remained proudly fluent in Russian to the day of his death. During the Great Depression, Mike swung an axe in the bush for a time, and worked for various farmers in Central Alberta. In 1939, when the Second World War started, Mike was determined to sign up. However, his parents were not naturalized, and Russia was not an ally, so Mike was considered an enemy alien and was rejected for service. When Russia joined the allied forces in 1941, Mike enlisted immediately in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. He trained in Calgary, Red Deer, and Debert, NS, and was soon on his way overseas. He left behind a lovely, clever young school teacher who had promised that if he came home safely, she would consider marrying him. Mike served in North Africa and Italy, and later as part of the liberation of Holland with the First Canadian Infantry Division. In Holland, Mike’s talent for languages proved useful as he was put to work as an interpreter in the concentration camps. For the remainder of his life, Mike was intensely proud to be one of the inappropriately dubbed “D-Day Dodgers,” the allied forces which made the first successful counter invasion of Europe, which occurred in Italy. Mike and his comrades saw some of the heaviest fighting of the war. When he returned home safely, Annie Diggle lovingly fulfilled her promise to Mike, and they were married in 1946. They settled on the farm, and began to raise their family. Mike was an enthusiastic member of the Rimbey community for more than 60 years. He served as a special constable with the Rimbey police force and was part of the local Civil Defence and Emergency Measures Organizations. He lent his wonderful baritone voice to local musical productions, and he served as Ponoka County Councillor for division 5 for three terms. Mike was an avid member of the Grand Hotel coffee group, and never passed up an opportunity to “go in for coffee.” Mike and Annie (but especially Mike) loved to travel. When the family was grown, they bought a camper and toured around Alberta.They made trips to Ontario for the annual reunion of the D-Day Dodgers. And as a 50th anniversary gift to themselves, they travelled to Russia and Harbin. After the fall of the Soviet regime, Mike also managed to find his birthplace, and to reconnect with some distant cousins in Russia.
To mourn his loss, Mike leaves his wife of 63 years; Annie, six children – Connie (Edwin), Mary (Kris), Beth (Hugh), Murray, Margie, and Mark (Deborah); eleven grandchildren and ten great grandchildren; his brother and sister-in-law, Alex and Aileen Polushin, and sisters-in-law, Peggy Gibbons and Lorna Diggle. He was predeceased by his brother, Vena in 1946, his father in 1980, his mother in 1981, his brother-in-law, Jack Gibbons in 1976, and his brother-in-law, Harry Diggle, earlier this spring. A Public Funeral Service in Celebration of Mike’s Life was held at the Zion Lutheran Church, Rimbey on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. with the Reverend David Holmes officiating. A Public Interment Service preceded the Funeral Service in the Legion Memorial Field of Honour in the West Haven Cemetery, Rimbey at 10:00 a.m. If friends desire, memorial tributes in Mike’s Memory may be made directly to the Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre, Box 440, Rimbey, Alberta T0C 2J0; or to the charity of one’s choice. Condolences to the Family may also be expressed by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Funeral and Burial Arrangements for the Late Mr. Mitchell “Mike” Polushin
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