OBITUARY: Helen Olga Plysuk Maxwell, 92, of Melbourne, Passed Away March 13

By  //  April 20, 2020

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'Mother of the Year' for Brevard County in 1969

Helen Olga Plysuk Maxwell Janney passed away March 13, 2020, in Melbourne, Florida.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Helen Olga Plysuk Maxwell Janney passed away March 13, 2020, in Melbourne, Florida.

She was born on November 4, 1927, in East Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada to Alexander Plysuk and Anne Slobodian.

Her loving and caring parents were poor, hard-working Ukrainian immigrants. East Selkirk was a Ukrainian immigrant community.

Her first language was Ukrainian. She learned to speak English when she started elementary school. She then taught her parents basic English.

Ukrainian was the preferred language spoken at her home when she grew up, and her siblings Peter and Stella (Steffie) and their parents spoke to each other in Ukrainian throughout their entire lives.

She graduated from Happy Thought High School. Immediately upon graduating at 17, she left to teach school from 1944 to 1945 in a one-room schoolhouse in northern Manitoba in the Medika School District.

Languages came easy to Helen throughout her life and she eventually became fluent in Ukrainian, English, French and Russian, speaking all four languages without any accent whatsoever.

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She was also conversant in numerous other Eastern European languages. Later in life, and after raising her 13 children, she finally went to college, first to the University of Utah and then to West Chester University in Pennsylvania.

She graduated with honors in 1989 at the age of 61 with a major in Russian and a minor in French. Throughout her life she had a quick mind and quick wit.

Helen was a master quilter and quilted innumerable quilts throughout her life for her kids, their spouses, grandkids, great-grandkids, friends, the needy and for numerous charities and social causes.

She was the Today Newspaper “Mother of the Year” for Brevard County, Florida in 1969.

Helen was familiar with pain and discomfort. She contracted polio as an infant, resulting in numerous surgeries and one leg being shorter than the other.

That shorter leg would eventually result in major back issues and eventually require all of her vertebrae to be fused. She had numerous heart attacks and had open heart surgery in the late 1970’s.

Back then she was told she might live another 5 years, but nothing could stop the short 4 foot 8 inch Ukrainian, including 13 children, subsequent accidents and numerous hospitalizations.

Helen had 13 children with Paul Maxwell, who she later divorced. The children are: Barbara Armstrong (Fred); Valerie Abu Ghazaleh; Lawrence “Larry” (Mary Lou); Carolyn “Junie” McOwen, deceased (John); Merle (Liz); Charles (Lisa); Grant, deceased (Valerie); David (Bonnie); Daniel “Danny”, deceased; Marie Fox (Brad); Mark (Ann); Clayton “Clay”, deceased; and Marlana Scott (Sam).

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Helen also had many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom she loved and adored. Helen later married Joseph “Joe” H. Janney (deceased).

Their marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple. (Both Helen and Joe passed away at the age of 92.) Helen joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the age of 21 and was a devoted member throughout her life.

Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, there will be no funeral services, but the family would like to thank the loving and caring staff at Brookdale Senior Living (now Greenwood Place) who took care of Helen during the last years of her life, Hospice of St. Francis, and Beach Funeral Home.

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