Zofia Balawender Stohandel
Zofia Stohandel (nee Balawender) was born on January 20, 1925r. in Stepań, Wołyń, Poland. On February 10, 1940 she and her family were deported to Soviet Russia where they were engaged in forced labour clearing forests. In August 1942, along with General Anders' Polish army, the family reached India, where Zofia completed high school and undertook administrative studies in Bombay. She was a very active member of scouting and completed numerous leadership training courses.
In 1947 Zofia arrived in England, where she married Kazimierz Stohandel. The couple emigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1952. Here Zofia continued her education (English, administration, accounting and psychology), enjoyed a long career as an accountant and ran her own accounting business.
As the first Chief Commissioner of the Polish Girl Scouts in Canada, Zofia was the catalyst for the organization of Polish Girl Scout units across Canada. For more than 80 years she was a dedicated and engaged scoutmaster whose accomplishments included the development and delivery of leadership training and World Scouting Jamborees. Zofia authored many articles for scouting magazines and the Polish diaspora press. Over the course of her life, she was a role model and mentor for thousands of young Polish Canadian women who went on to become leaders in the Polish Canadian community, and the Canadian society at large.
Zofia was also a volunteer for the Canadian Polish Congress as its Financial Officer, Chief of the Audit Committee, and Secretary of the Canadian Polish Millennium Fund. She fundraised for a new Polish Parish in Scarborough. She belonged to the Polish Combatants' Association. She was active in the Wilno Catholic parish community of St. Mary’s, the Wilno Heritage Society and local garden club. In 2012 she was decorated with the Officer's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta awarded by the Government of Poland for her lifetime of service.
For many years she lived on Long Lake in Kaszuby, Ontario, where she re-organized the scouting archives, and wrote a complete history of Polish Scouting in Canada. She passed away at St. Francis Hospital in Barry's Bay, Ontario on October 29, 2019.
She will be greatly missed by her friends in Barry's Bay and her Scouting Family.
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