Gwen Szalma
Gwen Szalma

Obituary of Gwen Szalma

It is with great sadness that the family of Gwen Szalma announce her passing which occurred on Sunday, May 19, 2024 at her home in Hampton, NB. Born on October 25, 1927, she was the daughter of the late Thorvald and Johanna (Anderson) Pedersen.

She was born in a small rural community in Denmark and lived an idyllic early life on the family farm. She excelled at school and won a full scholarship to a prestigious High School in the City. Those years were darkened by the Nazi occupation of Denmark which left permanent scars on her. After high School she went to work at a Danish Save the Children camp where many post war refugees sent their children to recuperate after the war. While working there she met John, a dashing Hungarian soldier who had defected from the Hungarian army (which had been forced to fight on the Nazi side). John volunteered at the Children’s camp because there were many Hungarian children there who couldn’t speak Danish. Gwen and John eventually fell in love and were engaged. Due to post war turmoil they relocated to Vienna, Austria and were married there. But Austria proved too dangerous for John to stay in and after applying to various countries they decided to emigrate to Canada. They settled in Toronto and worked in various jobs until they both got jobs at Ontario Hydro. Gwen did very well there, moving up steadily through the company until finally becoming the Administrator for Foreign Projects.

In the mid 80’s they retired and spent the winters in Florida and travelled to many other places until John’s health started failing. At that time, they decided to leave the Toronto area and move to the Maritimes where their only child, Liz, was living. They enjoyed some good years there until John passed away in 2005. In 2006, Gwen moved to a smaller home in a complex where other seniors lived and enjoyed some very good years there despite missing John terribly. She renewed her interest in art and spent many hours painting. She enjoyed teaching others to paint, especially her granddaughter Erin. She also developed an interest in Astrophysics and Quantum physics despite having no training in science. Her daughter kept teasing her that in her next life she would be a child prodigy in Physics. Despite her failing health she lived mostly independently until the last few weeks of her life. Fiercely independent, she always tried to take care of herself as much as she could, right up to the end.

Gwen is survived by her daughter Elizabeth Szalma (Troy DeMerchant) of Quispamsis, NB; grandchildren: Erin Loughery, Lee DeMerchant and Laura DeMerchant; as well as several nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents, Gwen was predeceased by her husband John Szalma; and sister Ruth Anderson.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Reid’s Funeral Home (506-832-5541), 1063 Main Street, Hampton, NB, and will be held privately. Donations in memory of Gwen may be made to Piggs Peak or Joshua Group. Personal condolences to the family and charitable donations may be made through:

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