Anna Maria Lehto
Anna Maria Lehto was one of those rare persons who had wit, and intelligence, and showed care for her family and community throughout her long life. Her parents emigrated from Ukraine. She grew up with 4 brothers and three sisters. Born in the City of Fort William, Ontario, Anna Maria grew up on Island Number 1. Life on Island Number 1 with no running water was a challenge. Facing long daily walks to get to school, having no running water, and doing numerous chores for the family farm, egg and milk business, and feed and seed business.
Anna Maria's spirit of joy, love, determination, and humour did not let those years limit her. It strengthened her resolve to reshape her world and the world of her children into a place of love, care, opportunity, and adventure. Her difficult childhood did not define Anna Maria. She never made excuses, she lived and took advantage of all that life could offer her. Her life journey was often about self-sacrifice and serving others.
Anna Maria loved reading and the arts. She and her sisters joined the Fort William Military Band where she played trumpet. The band played at many events including for the troops stopping in Fort William and made their way to troop ships in Halifax. She loved acting and performed in school plays as the lead and joined an amateur group. She was a natural public speaker using her wit and charm whenever she had the opportunity.
When she met her husband, George, they raised 5 children; Jennifer, Kathleen, Colleen, Patricia, and George. Motherhood was something that Anna Maria loved. She ensured her children were given many opportunities in life that she did not have. Taking them to early morning swimming lessons, boy scouts, being on the executive of clubs for her children, sewing cheerleading outfits, blueberry picking, and fishing adventures North of Superior. You would see Anna Maria teaching her children how to appreciate and protect nature, care for animals, and welcome the hospitality of other cultures. She ensured that the world of her children was much bigger than what she experienced. Anna Maria and George, took their children on great adventures. Such as watching the Apollo 9 Space Mission from Cape Canaveral, walking the pyramids in Mexico, and traveling throughout the United States. Anna Maria packed the clothes and school books for her 5 children. The family travelled for a month at a time. Since her husband did not drive, Anna Maria was driving logging five hundred to eight hundred miles a day on the vacations from Red Rock or Thunder Bay to Mexico City, Pebble Beach, Monterrey, and all parts south.
On return from these amazing adventures, Anna Maria was asked to give travelogues to the elementary, high schools, and adults in Red Rock. She loved sharing and was at ease performing for an audience.
Anna Maria was a full-time mom but once she and George moved the family back to Thunder Bay in 1976, Anna Maria became a correctional officer. She loved the job and loved to work with the people who were there. She had a great way of treating the inmates, and often, years later they would meet her somewhere in Thunder Bay thanking her for how she treated them. Anna Maria loved public service and threw her hat in the ring for politics running for the Hydro Commission and was runner-up.
Anna Maria loved working at Corpus Christi Church. She was an executive member and her vocation was hospitality. She had a way with people and her warmth and humour shone through with friends and strangers alike. She loved God and had a strong faith which strengthened and encouraged her. No one was ever left out when she worked. She greeted the regulars like old friends and made those new to the church feel like family. Anna Maria was diagnosed at 89 with lung cancer and given a very short time to live but with determination and positivity, she reached her 96 year. Her life was a lesson on the undeniable power of Anna Maria’s spirit and love that guided her. She cared for others and was humbled when she needed help.
Anna Maria will always be in spirit with her loved ones. She is in our hearts always and forever. Anna Maria Lehto leaves behind daughters, Kathleen and Patricia, son George Jr., grandchildren Stefan and John-Aaron, and granddaughter Kayley. Annamaria is predeceased by her husband, George, and daughters, Colleen and Jennifer, her sisters Rose, Vi, and Sister Josephine and brothers Roman, Peter, Mike and Joe.
The family would like to thank her caring PSW, Angelina, and the doctors at Princess Margaret: Dr. Shephard and Dr. Bazeiak and her family doctors, Dr. Behiya and Dr. Zaki.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, December 22, 2022, when family and friends will gather at Corpus Christi R.C. Church for the funeral mass beginning at 10:30 a.m. celebrated by Rev. Victor DeGagne. The interment will follow at St. Andrew’s Cemetery. Visitation for friends will be held on Wednesday, December 21 (TONIGHT) from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. with vigil prayers beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Sargent & Son Funeral Chapel, 21 N. Court Street. Donations may be made to Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Online condolences may be made at www.sargentandson.com.