Ilona Maria Ross (nee Kindermann) passed peacefully surrounded by loved ones on Monday, May 22nd after a courageous 8+ year battle with ALS. She was 84.
Born in 1938 in Lodz, Poland, Ilona made her way to England after the war before settling in Canada in the late 50’s. She worked at Bell Canada when she arrived, and her mother and brother joined her in Toronto a few years later. The 60’s and 70’s were spent building a new life for herself and raising a family before returning to work when her children were in high school. From 1985 to 2003, Ilona built her career as a legal secretary at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP where she made many lifelong friends.
Ilona was best known as a deeply loving and loyal mother, nana, and friend and while she never wanted to be the centre of attention, she built a large, strong network of friends throughout her life – many of whom she stayed connected with until the end of her life. Despite her long battle with ALS, she was truly loved everywhere she went and continued to make many new friends over the past decade, including personal caregivers and other medical support professionals.
Ilona was extremely kind, funny, opinionated, loyal, and very intelligent. She loved her sushi and pasta, her books, games nights with her friends and old movies, and she passed on these passions to her own children and grandchildren. She loved to travel and discuss art, religion, history, and politics. AND she was strong – one of the strongest and bravest people we knew.
Ilona will be remembered as a gentle, loving mother to her three children and their partners: Gregory, Christine (Rico), and Stephen (Andy), and a very involved and caring Nana to her grandchildren: Madeleine (Matthew), Jack, Juliana, Cara, and Matteo. She is survived by her brother Arthur Stevenson who she deeply loved and admired and who was by her side in her final days. As a proud, honorary member of the DiGiovanni family, she will be missed at family events and celebrations.
Many thanks to the incredible team of medical and caregiving professionals who supported Ilona and her family throughout her long battle with ALS, including the ALS team at Sunnybrook Hospital, the palliative team at Sunnybrook, and the many caregivers at Seniors Health Centre.
At her request, there will be no funeral service; a private celebration will be held later this summer on her birthday. If desired, memorial donations in Ilona’s honour may be made to the ALS Society of Canada at www.als.ca (gift in memory) or Sunnybrook Hospital.
The family welcomes any tributes and comments through the online guestbook. Enjoy the photo gallery here and please share your own photos and memories below.