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Julia Farago’s doctor advised her to go home and get her affairs in order. The year was 1949.
She spent more than three years in and out of a Saskatoon tuberculosis sanitorium over a seven-year period
and underwent multiple surgeries that left her with one lung.The young mother ultimately recovered, outlived
her doctors and spent many wonderful years with her family.
Sadly, in May 2021, the 104-year-old beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt and
longtime Watrous, Sask. resident, passed away at the Manitou Lodge in Watrous.
Julia was born in 1917, in Atwater township near Esterhazy, Sask. to Magdalen (Riczu) and Michael Balogh,
who farmed in the Whitewood, Sask. area.
The youngest of 10 children, her strong character and values stemmed from her family. At a young age, she
started doing chores on the farm like fetching firewood for the house and closing the chicken coop at night
despite her fear of the dark. For some extra household income, Julia’s dad would make a day of taking the
kids by horse and buggy to dig for Seneca roots.
Their home was a musical one. Her father taught the children to play the violin, which Julia was able to play
Some time later, when Julia was helping her ill sister Elizabeth (Alice) Kiss, she met Joseph (Joe) Anthony
Farago as he played baseball at the Kiss farm. In 1934, Julia married Joe and moved to their farm near
Plunkett, Sask. The couple later had two children — Elaine and Delvin (Del).
Julia’s mother, Magdalen Balogh, helped Joe with little Elaine and Del when Julia was diagnosed with
tuberculosis in 1943. Joe would take the kids to visit their mother at the hospital when he could. Del
remembers sitting on the lawn of the sanitorium with Elaine and watching as their mother waved to them
from the top floor, as they were not allowed to enter.
After she recovered, Julia spent many enjoyable years on the farm with her family.
She was a typical farming wife of the time, performing many farm chores, preparing large meals and driving
machinery like the grain truck. She also milked the cows, fed the pigs and helped Joe haul water for the
livestock four miles before breakfast.
They had a big, beautiful garden. It was full of Julia’s favorite flowers, lilacs, along with fruit trees and
vegetables. She was an excellent cook and baker and many of her dishes came straight from the family
During their early years on the farm, there was no electricity. A windmill, rigged with a generator and a
battery bank, powered two light bulbs in the house at night.
The kitchen had a kerosene refrigerator and a wood-burning stove/oven. There was no running water. The
kitchen only had a hand pump connected to a water cistern in the basement, which had to be refilled from
another well up the road. There was no bathroom in the house, only an outhouse. The house was made of onefoot-
thick clay walls helping keep it warm during the winters and cool during the short, hot summers.
Despite those limitations, Julia prepared masterpieces like chocolate torte cake, krinkles, homemade donuts,
cinnamon rolls, pies and tarts, bread pudding, palascinta (Hungarian crepes), stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls,
paprikash chicken, krumplileves (Hungarian potato soup), bean soup and more. She was also an expert in
making sauerkraut and dandelion wine.
In 1968, Joe semi-retired from farming. Julia and Joe moved into a new house in the town of Watrous while
retaining their Plunkett farm and garden.
After moving to Watrous she worked part-time at the Necchi Sewing Center and later in the fabric department
at Robinson’s store with her niece Rita Allin. She helped customers with their sewing and provided clothesmaking
ideas. She was quite a seamstress. She made beautiful quilts for family and friends and won an award
for sewing a mother–daughter combination dress one year at the Saskatoon exhibition.
Family and Friends
Family and friends meant a lot to Julia. On the weekends, especially Sunday after church, visiting with family
was a tradition.
Chris remembers that Julia and Joe would have big meals with relatives, and play cards. They often visited
the home of Julia’s brother, Mike Balogh, his wife Hedie and their kids Janet, Robert and Vernon, who lived
nearby. Over the years, they and other families of Jimmy & Jean Olah, Alex & Ellen Farago, Steve &
Margaret Farago would get together many times to cook, play cards, visit and laugh.
Julia loved kids and always had snacks and toys for them when they visited, no matter what age.
As a treat on weekends, Julia and Joe would take their grandkids Chris and Kyra to McKay’s Mini Mart in
Manitou Beach for rum cherry chocolate ice cream on the way to the farm.
Chris remembers that sometimes, when driving, Julia would hunch up over the steering wheel and imitate a
race car driver, making him and Kyra laugh.
Family history was very important to her. In the early ‘80s, she and daughter Elaine worked on compiling a
couple of family genealogy books to memorialize family histories: “The Family Tree-The Farago 1904-77”,
“Through the Fields of Time Part II (Plunkett and District)” and “The John Riczu Family”. Many family
members have copies of these books and contributed pictures, artwork and stories to them.
Humor, Fun and Games
Chris and Kyra loved visiting with Julia and Joe.
During their visits, Julia’s nieces, nephews and cousins would often join them to play cards and watched and
learned as she cooked and baked Hungarian meals and desserts. They were usually entertained by Julia
playing the violin and Elaine accompanying her on the accordion.
Some of Kyra’s favorite memories with her grandparents were Sunday evenings dancing to old records and
learning to dance the polka in the living room. Afterward, they would drink orange crush floats and play along
with “The Price is Right” contestants and watch “The Lone Ranger.”
Also, one dark night, Chris and Kyra set up a tent in the Farago backyard. Julia made Joe put on an old
buffalo-skin coat and act like a bear outside the tent to scare them because they didn’t come in when their
grandma asked. It worked!
Julia loved solving puzzles and doing crosswords. Kyra fondly remembers doing crossword puzzles, word
finds and joking with her grandma to the point of laughing until they cried.
Julia was also a great pool and card player. Chris remembers Julia and Joe were both very competitive. At
times she won slightly more games than Joe or other family members. She had no mercy when she played
pool or cards. Not even with her grandkids.
Kyra’s husband, Dan Schmidt, and Julia’s great-grandsons Dalton and Colton Schmidt, loved her humor and
the unyielding way she played cards — or any games — with them. She never gave an inch! She was sharp.
They had to very quickly learn the games to beat her, or she would win all the time. Dan kept trying, but most
often, didn’t beat her. Or did he let her win? Julia made them learn to earn. They also learned jokes from her
that were teary-nose-running funny; and she told them “old time” stories that were really history lessons.
They were, and still are, in awe of her.
Julia’s great sense of humor led her to perform skits for family and at church functions. She would dress up in
costumes with her daughter or nieces, as sailors, witches, and Big Bird, singing and dancing, or trick-ortreating.
Julia also loved going to Danceland, as well as playing bingo and wearing decorative hats. She often donned
dressy hats on special occasions like visiting family or attending church.
Church and Community
Julia was a member of the St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church choir attending church services regularly until
she was physically unable to attend in her late 90s. She also participated in many church baking and quilting
She volunteered at the senior center in Watrous, bringing food, spending time with seniors and playing games.
Kyra remembers that she was the epitome of unconditional love. She would do anything for anyone and was
always willing to help.
She volunteered at Plunkett Days and Watrous Days and during the ‘90s. Chris remembers that one time she
was playing her violin on stage at the Folkfest in Watrous. As she played, the arena’s ceiling lights blew out.
She just kept on playing and laughed, saying she felt like a rock star.
Made of Grit
Julia was tough and didn’t put up with pouting, sulking or laziness. She’d learned early on that working hard
instilled confidence and grit and wanted to pass that on to her loved ones. When her grandkids, nieces and
nephews visited, she expected them to help with chores.
Julia also wasn’t one to shy away from her fears. She was afraid of flying but wanted to fly with Chris, a pilot,
when he was in Watrous one day. He had rented a small twin-engine, 4 seat aircraft. Julia alleviated her fears
by unconsciously squeezing the knee of fellow passenger, Austin Worobec throughout the flight. She and
Austin, a neighbor for many years, laughed about it for a long time after.
A few years after Joe’s death, Julia married John Edmund (Ted) Galvin in 1995. They attended church, danced
at Danceland, visited relatives and played cards. After Ted’s passing in 1998, Julia moved into the Manitou
Lodge independent living facility, where her family visited her often.
Kyra, Dan, Dalton and Colton visited from the U.S. as often as they could. Julia was happy to learn that her
great-grandsons must have some Canadian blood running through them as they became highly skilled players
to watch in high school and college hockey. Kyra was used to the regimen of ringette and hockey practices
and games, but Dan was new to the game. He got used to it fast and became a true hockey parent as his sons
progressed in hockey from the ages of 3-1/2.
When her grandson Chris and his wife Orith would visit, Julia would prepare a feast, including her legendary
chocolate torte cake. Chris, Orith and Elaine would eat, laugh, play cards and typically take a car ride out to
the farm. There, Julia and Elaine walked and reminisced about their life on the farm.
When Julia moved to the Manitou Lodge, she visited and played cards with the other residents and staff, and
continued to play the violin even as her sight faded.
Despite enduring some difficult times, she maintained a positive outlook that she wanted to pass on to her
family with passages from a poem she’d read and jotted down decades earlier.
Safely Home (by unknown)
I am home in Heaven, dear ones;
Oh, so happy and so bright!
There is perfect joy and beauty,
In this everlasting light.
All the pain and grief is over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in Heaven at last.
There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idly stand;
Do it now, while life remaineth —
You shall rest in God’s own land.
When that work is all completed,
He will gently call you home;
Oh, the rapture of that meeting,
Oh, the joy to see you come!
Julia was predeceased by her husbands: Joseph Anthony Farago and John Edmund (Ted) Galvin; daughter,
Elaine (Lewis) Embretson; and brothers and sisters: Ambrose, Anna, John, Barbara (Bessie), Mary, Elizabeth
(Alice), Michael, Matilda and Joseph.
She is survived by her son, Delvin (Karen) Farago; grandson, Chris (Orith) Farago; granddaughter, Kyra
(Dan) Schmidt; great-grandsons: Dalton (Rachel) Schmidt, Colton Schmidt and Carly Otis; and many nieces,
nephews and cousins.
Julia’s family would like to extend a special thanks to the staff at the Manitou Lodge for their loving care of
her and to Rita Allin and her sister, the late Fay Marta, for the extraordinary amount of time they spent caring
for and visiting with Julia.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Manitou Lodge Activity Department, c/o Watrous
District Health Complex, Box 130, Watrous, SK S0K 4T0.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a memorial Mass will be held in Watrous, Sask. at a later date.
Interment will be private at the Watrous Cemetery.