Irena Zvagulis Profile Photo
1942 Irena 2024

Irena Zvagulis

March 28, 1942 — May 31, 2024

Irena Zvagulis (b. March 28, 1942 in Riga, Latvia) passed away peacefully from cancer on May 31, 2024 at the Palliative Care Unit of Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. 

Irena was the oldest daughter of Leontine and Indrikis Zvagulis, and younger sister to Valdis Zvagulis, who have all pre-deceased her. She is survived by her sister, Maruta (Zvagulis) Boyd, her nephew, Patrick Boyd, and his wife Rachel, and her cousins, Ingrid, Inta, Andrea and Simona. 

Irena and her family left Latvia in 1944 when the Russians invaded, and spent the next eight years in various refugee camps, emigrating to London, Ontario in 1952. She graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a B. A. After receiving an M. A. in French Literature from University of Toronto, she went on to run the French House of Waterloo Lutheran University, following that with three years in the south of France spent working toward her Ph.D. in French Literature. 

When she returned to Canada, she took on various administrative jobs ranging from data input to finally ending up as an information officer at the Ontario College of Teachers. During most of her time in Toronto, she shared an apartment with numerous cats and her friend Betty, for whom she was the sole caregiver during Betty's battle with kidney failure. 

 Throughout her life, she was active in the Latvian community – whether it was her sorority, the Auroras; or the Latvian long-term care residence, Kristus Darzs; and especially with the Pensioners' Society at the Latvian Centre. She was extremely generous with her time, her patience and her musical gifts - her ability to play the piano with appropriate chords for any melody you gave her (as long as it was in the key of F) was amazing. Her speaking skills were equally impressive - she wrote many lectures for the Pensioners' Society and proceeded to deliver them without notes, and she could always be called on to give an ex tempore address at a funeral, memorial or other special occasion. She was eloquent, and always found the right heart-felt words. Her enthusiasm for goose, kraut, pork hocks, champagne and cognac, as well as her gentle, giving nature will be missed by many. 

 Finally, the family wishes to thank the doctors, nurses and other caregivers who attended her with such gentle care and concern. 

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