March 18 1946 – December 12, 2011

Irena passed away peacefully after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer. Left to mourn are her mother, Catherine Molnar; sister, Moira Connor (Terry); brother, Douglas Bruce Miller (Cathy); nephew, Colin Miller; cousins, William Gay (Sandra) and Stuart Gay (Barb Wilson); close friends: Della and Denis Connor, Lois and Bruce Dickey, Barb Doughty, Sonya Moeller, Penny Pedersen, and neighbours in Nanaimo, as well as Mikiko Koiki in Japan, Manush in India, Dimitri in Greece and many relatives and friends in the U.K. Irena was predeceased by her husband, Alfie Macala in 1985.

Irena emigrated to Canada from Scotland with her family when she was ten years old. She completed school in Hamilton, Ont., then studied and worked at McMaster University. In 1978 she moved to Victoria with husband, Alfie, and was employed at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria for 23 years, until she retired in 2002. For many years Irena boarded Asian students attending the University of Victoria, assisting them with their studies, and forging lasting friendships. After retiring, Irena obtained her ESL teaching certification and took a position in China teaching English to medical students. From China, Irena moved to Kerala, India. The last nine years of her life were lived fully, either at her home in Nanaimo, or her waterfront home in Kerala. In Sept. 2010, Irena returned to Nanaimo to battle the cancer that took her life.

Irena was a blithe spirit, a gracious lady who travelled the earth like a goodwill ambassador, interested in everything she saw and everyone she met. She lived life with joy in her own modest fashion, planting flowers and creating gardens, tending animals, and helping those in need. She will always be loved and remembered this way.

The family wish to thank family physicians Dr. Mary Winder and Dr. Peter Metrowich, the BCCA oncologists at Victoria, Nanaimo and Abbotsford who provided such excellent care during her treatments, and the nurses, doctors and volunteers who tended Irena with compassion and respect during the last few weeks of her life at the Nanaimo Regional Hospital Palliative Care Unit.

A Celebration of Irena’s Life will be held for family and friends on January 7, 2012 at 1:30 p.m., at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall, 595 Townsite Road, Nanaimo, B.C.

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