George Andrew Senkiw. A Well Lived Life

Christina Welyhorsky Senkiw.

George Andrew Senkiw (December 13, 1946 – September 23, 2012) was born in a Displaced Persons Refugee Camp in Karlsruhe, Germany. When George was 1 ½ years old, the Senkiw family immigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and when he was 10, they moved to Toronto, Ontario.

In 1961, he graduated from Annette Public School at the top of his class, with an award for: “exceptional character, leadership and scholarship”. He also attended Ukrainian School and the Ukrainian Scouting Organization “Plast”.

In 1966, George graduated from Humberside Collegiate Institute, where he excelled academically and enjoyed sports and chess. He continued to attend Ukrainian School; “Plast”, and played volleyball in provincial competitions.

George decided to study mechanical engineering and was accepted into the Faculty of Applied Science at the University of Toronto. He thrived in the university environment. He enjoyed studying engineering where his self-motivation and organizational skills served him well. He also made time for extra-curricular activities – volunteering and sports. George joined the Executives of the University of Toronto Ukrainian Students’ Club and the Canadian Association of Ukrainian University Clubs, and after graduating, he served as President of the University of Toronto Ukrainian Graduates’ Association.

George played volleyball with U of T Blues, and was captain of the University of Toronto Engineering Volleyball Team winning provincial championships three years in a row. He was named Commissioner of Volleyball, and in 1970, the University of Toronto Faculty of Engineering presented George with an award for ”rendering outstanding athletic services to the university.”

In 1973, he joined the Executive of the Association of Ukrainian Engineers in Canada where he chaired the Engineering Ball Committee organizing 10 annual Engineering Gala Balls at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. He was President of the Association of Ukrainian Engineers in Canada twice: 1984-1986 and 2001- 2007.

In 1970, George graduated with a B.A.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Toronto and joined Ontario Hydro.

In 1972, he accepted a position in the Mechanical Testing Section of the Mechanical Research Division. From 1980 to 1991, as Senior Engineer, he designed and managed laboratory and field tests on materials, structures and work equipment, and wrote reports developing industry standards.

In 1990, George received The H.A. Smith Award “in recognition for outstanding contributions at Ontario Hydro Research Division”. As Supervising Project Engineer, from 1991 to 1998, he managed advanced tests with $1M budgets; compiled, wrote and edited major engineering reports involving several engineering disciplines; and was responsible for developing proposals, quotations and budgets.

From 1984 to 1993, George represented Ontario Hydro in 3 international engineering organisations: American Concrete Institute (ACI); American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM); Comite Euro-Internationale du Beton (CEIB). He attended conferences, chaired committees, and delivered research papers.

In 1998, George joined the Project Management Division in the newly created Ontario Power Generation (OPG). As Project Engineer, he managed the $14M engineering rehabilitation of the Niagara Plant Group – Sir Adam Beck Generating Stations.

In 2002, after 32 years of service, George took early retirement from Ontario Power Generation. He was one of the lucky individuals who enjoyed his chosen profession and valued the camaraderie of his colleagues. He continued to work on contracts with SNC Lavalin Nuclear, Atomic Energy of Canada and Iron Ring Staffing Solutions.

After retiring, George joined the Executive of the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) Etobicoke Chapter where he was Chair from 2006 – 2009. In 2008, he was honoured with a PEO award ”in grateful appreciation for dedicated service”. In 2012, he received a posthumous honour from Engineers Canada “bestowing the designation of Fellow, in honour of exceptional contributions to the engineering profession in Canada”.

In 2003, George joined the Board of the Ukrainian Canadian Social Services (UCSS) Toronto Branch. He was President from 2005 to 2010. Under his leadership UCSS organized fundraising events; celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Gala Banquet; reached out to the community through TV advertising; and renovated the UCSS building. In 2010, George created the Markian Ochrymowych Humanitarian Award and launched it at the Inaugural Award Banquet at the Old Mill in Toronto.

George was a lifelong active volunteer with the Ukrainian Canadian Scouting Organisation “Plast” where he held many leadership positions working with youth, In the 1990s, he joined the International Association of “Plast” (Holovna Plastova Bulava) where he was Director of International Publications (Plastove Vydavnytsvo) managing the production of 3 magazines, and later became Director of Senior Alumni Chapters (Holova Seniors’kykh Kureniv). From 2004-2007, he chaired the First Senior Alumni Chapter (Pershyij Plastovyj Senjors’kyj Kuren’).organizing annual Chapter conferences, publishing the bi-annual newsletter, and in 2003 marking its 75th Anniversary with an internatioal Conference. ”Plast” honoured George with the St. George’s Medal in Silver for his 48 years of volunteer work.

In 2004, he joined the Liberal Party of Canada to help elect his close friend and former boyscout, Borys Wrzesnewskyj M.P., to the Canadian Parliament. He volunteered for Borys in 3 successful federal election campaigns in Etobicoke Centre.

George met Christina Welyhorsky in the summer of 1968 on the beach of the Ukrainian Resort, located on the shore of Lake Ontario near Grafton. They married in 1971. George had just started working at Ontario Hydro and Christina finished her second year studying History of Fine Art and Architecture at the University of Toronto. They were true soul mates and were married for 41 very happy years.

After graduating, Christina pursued painting and writing. George managed the business side of her art endeavours: 13 solo art exhibitions; 7 books and 5 series of art reproductions for children. They formed two publishing companies where George was VP responsible for production, marketing and sales. Over the years, they sold 5000 books and 5000 art reproductions.

Christina and George were a very social couple. They enjoyed entertaining family, friends, and colleagues. They were devoted to culture. Art openings, book launches, lectures, conferences and banquets filled up their calendar. They travelled extensively since the day they met, visiting art galleries and museums everywhere. They collected books and art, and supported theatre, music and opera through annual subscriptions. They also shared a deep love of nature. For over 30 years, they maintained their family cottage at Grafton enjoying the summertime beauty of Lake Ontario’s north shore, and pursuing swimming, tennis, and bicycling.

George was a kind and generous man; scrupulously honest; unfailingly loyal; and totally supportive. He was inquisitive, analytical, a realist, open to new ideas, and always looking at the big picture. He was energetic, well organised, with an exceptional work ethic and a commitment to excellence. He was very demanding of himself, constantly striving to do better, but always humble in his achievements.

George was patient and sympathetic with people. He was genuinely pleased with the success of others. His irrepressible good humour and positive outlook were an inspiration to everyone who met him. He lived every day to the fullest, finding positivity even in the most difficult circumstances.

George was a wonderful friend and an exceptional husband. It was a pleasure to share my life with George for 44 years.