Nellie Zaitsoff

October 9, 1937 – November 10, 2019
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our beloved mother and grandmother, Nellie (Esakin) Zaitsoff.
Nellie died peacefully at the age of 82 on November 10 in Cranbrook, where she spent a short time in hospital following a stroke.
Nellie was born to Simyone and Nastya Makortoff on October 9, 1937 in Grand Forks, BC. She was a fraternal twin with Lucy and sister of the late Sammy and Mike Makortoff. She grew up in a traditional Doukhobor communal village on Hardy Mountain.
In 1953 Nellie married her sweetheart, Joe Esakin and in 1966 the couple, along with their 3 daughters, relocated to Kitimat. Tragically, just four years later, Joe drowned in a boating accident on the Douglas Channel. Nellie remained in Kitimat where she raised her girls, then returned to Grand Forks a young widow in 1977. She spent many years cooking at the renowned Yale Hotel and if she was working when her family came to visit, they were treated to a heaping slice of her wonderful banana cream pie. Nellie married her second husband Nick Zaitsoff in 1988 and after spending a number of years in Grand Forks, they eventually settled in Castlegar. Nick passed away in 2011 and Nellie moved to Kimberley in 2015, where she lived near her eldest daughter and family until her passing.
Nellie’s delicious Doukhobor cooking and her meticulous sewing, knitting and crocheting will be remembered fondly – especially the beautiful afghans she generously crafted for family over the years and the recipes she handed down. They’ll remind many of us of her, in a cozy and comforting way. Nellie loved flowers and tended a variety of beautiful roses in her gardens over the years. Nellie was an avid reader, never missed the news on TV and enjoyed challenging puzzles. She had an amazing memory for trivia and a unique sense of humour, often sharing unexpected quips to the delight of those around her. After she moved to Kimberley, Nellie kept active in the Daybreak community program for seniors. She will be greatly missed by her friends there and at Garden View Village, where she enjoyed a particularly special bond with her friend Emily.
Nellie was very proud of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She enjoyed looking at photos of them on her iPad and was delighted whenever they visited or phoned her – from Calgary, throughout BC, and as far away as Italy. And Sunday wasn’t complete for Nellie without a telephone conversation with her dear sister Lucy. It was also one of the few times she still had the opportunity to speak Russian, her mother tongue.
Nellie is survived by her 3 daughters, Lynn (Leonard), Vicky (Mark) and Lydia; her twin sister Lucy (John); 8 grandchildren: Shannon, Behn, Alannah, Jennifer, Trevor, Rory, Janine, Gregg and their spouses; 17 great grandchildren; 3 step-sons, Jack, Barry & Jim Zaitsoff and their families; several loved nieces, nephews and extended family members.
A remembrance tea was hosted by Nellie’s eldest daughter and granddaughter at Garden View Village. It was a heart warming time for Nellie’s friends to reminisce together and bid farewell to their dear friend.
According to her wishes, Nellie was cremated and will be laid to rest in her home town of Grand Forks, alongside her first born daughter Cindy, who died at the age of six. Nellie’s family will gather for an interment ceremony at the Doukhobor Sion Cemetery in the spring.


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