Obituary of Patricia Joan Rovak
Patricia Joan Rovak, nee Couzens, passed away in the loving company of her Husband of 56 years, Istvan (Steve) Rovak on June 22, 2022. She is survived by Daughters Anna-Lisa Rovak (Manuel Ferreira), her two daughters, Jennifer Joan MacCrimmon and Brianna Elizabeth MacCrimmon; Gina Rovak and her daughter, Megan Franck; Sister Diana Rosinski (Gunter); Brother Roger Couzens (Ruth) and sons James and Daniel Couzens.
Patricia was born to Joan and Fred Couzens in Bristol, England in April, 1941. Fred was an honoured Sailor with the Royal Navy having won the Distinguished Serviceman’s Medal from His Majesty, King George VI. Joan worked in the family (Stickland) butcher shop.
Patricia always had a love for horses, starting with the cart horses of her Grandfather, Charles Stickland, and would sit upon his knee listening to the stories of his escapades on horseback from being a “Point to Pointer”. Although she was an accomplished violinist (playing second violin at the Bristol Philharmonic Orchestra) and played piano, her heart belonged to horses – riding, teaching, training.
Patricia was fortunate enough to obtain employment as Girl Groom for Colonel Calmady-Hamlyn of Leawood, Bridestow. There she learned the joy and pain of working with horses at the highest level. The Colonel would insist that his grooms be taught from the very best, and Patricia was sent to Porlock Vale Riding School. This elite Riding School was the premier riding establishment developed by the trainer of the British Olympic team, Tony Collings. Patricia trained under Betty Howett, who later moved to the USA as Instructor of the US Olympic Team at the Potomac Horse Center. With such training and background, Patricia was recruited to work in Canada with then hopeful Olympian, Jim Day. She emigrated to Canada in 1961 and never looked back. While in Ontario, she worked with some of the top Canadian trainers and riders of the 1960’s.
The call of the West was too much, and Patricia decided to make her way across the country. She was working as a Practical Nurse in Manitoba, when she was offered a position by her old friend, Betty Howett, in the USA. She considered it but was also offered a position as instructor/trainer for Pip and Nicky Graham of Graham Ranches, Alberta, home of the training center for the Canadian Olympic Eventing Team. Alberta had its own attractions and she remained here in Canada.
In Alberta, Patricia rode the Eventing Circuit for the Grahams but decided that the Rodeo Circuit was much more fun. She became one of the few female rodeo circuit riders, competing in barrels, wild horse riding, wild cow milking, steer wrestling and even once as a bull rider. She was one of the first women in Western Canada to obtain her Guides License out of Banff and area. She loved to tell of stories of being in the mountains. One particular favourite was when she on a hunting trip, and while sleeping in her tent, she felt a hand? pushing at her through the tent. She punched out, heard an ”umph” and something moving away. Later that day, a large black bear was shot less than a mile from camp with a bloody nose! One didn’t mess with Patty!
A true pioneer and wanting to explore as much of the West as she could, she moved into British Columbia, working/living both at Fort Steele (when it was a fort!) and then Mineral King Mine in the East Kootenays.
It was at Mineral King Mine that she met her husband to be, Istvan(Steve) Rovak, and married him in February 1966. Patricia was Mining Camp Cook and Steve was the Mining Engineer. After they were married, they opened “The Ketch Pen”, a tack store, in Invermere and Patricia taught riding in the community.
Their first child, Anna-Lisa, was born in December 1966. With the birth of Anna-Lisa, and a need to change lifestyles, Steve took on the position of Senior Engineering Technician with BC Forestry and the family moved to Victoria. There, Gina was born in December 1968. In January 1969, the family moved to Northern BC as Steve took on the position of Senior Mining Surveyor for the Cassiar Asbestos Mine. Patricia had been a Scout Leader back in England, so she took on the position of Akela for the Cassiar Cub Pack. At the same time, the family became a Foster Family for some of the local children who were in need of short term homes. It wasn’t unusual for there to be a knock at the door in the middle of the night, and a couple of children brought in to stay for a few days or a couple of months. She worked with local RCMP making sure these children had a safe place to be.
After 4 years of life in the north, the family decided to move back south to Edgewater in the East Kootenays where they first met. Patricia became very active in the local 4-H Horse Clubs and continued to teach and coach many young people throughout the East Kootenays from Cranbrook to Golden. She also continued her equestrian education and became a National Level Judge for the newly up and coming Endurance Riding Competitions. She was a Certified Judge and occasional Consultant for the Canadian Equestrian Federation, and judged horse shows throughout British Columbia. She was fortunate enough to have bonded with her heart horse, Sheba, who followed in the hoof prints of the special horses she had in the past years– Christy, PeterB, Maverick and Rosslaire.
In 1994, Patricia and Steve decided to move away from Edgewater and to the small town of Carbon, AB to be closer to their youngest daughter, Gina (Mark) and later, their newborn daughter, Megan. Patricia again volunteered to be the Leader and Coach with the local 4-H Horse Club as well as teaching English and Western riding. She was an integral part of Megan’s upbringing and taught her the basics of horsemanship with Megan’s beloved pony, Rootbeer. After a few years and Gina’s family move to the BC North, they made a quick visit to their now retired daughter, Anna-Lisa, in the Quesnel area and decided to uproot one last time.
Moving to Quesnel in 2004, Patricia joined the North Cariboo Draft Horse & Mule Association and spent many hours enjoying the meetings and learning about driving horses. While the girls attended the Baker Creek Gymkhana Club, both Patricia and Steve were there regularly to cheer them on and donated photos and gifts to the club every year.
Meanwhile Anna-Lisa kept up the family ranch and happily supplied horses, tack, and musical instruments whenever needed. Patricia christened Manuel “her boy” and they both enjoyed dropping quarters into their swear jars every time someone lost a hand in cards. Jennifer is a natural horsewoman echoing her Grandmother’s innate ability and skills and able to train some of the most difficult of “wildies”. Brianna inherited her Grandmother’s talent in music and is an accomplished musician about to finish her BA in Jazz and Vocal studies.
Gina moved to Ontario to further her education and work in the health care field (PSW), emulating Patricia’s innate kindness and medical care abilities while she was a Practical Nurse in Manitoba. Megan finished her BComm in Finance at UNBC in Prince George. While studying at UNBC, Megan introduced Patricia to her now “adopted” granddaughter, Rashna Batliwalla, who continues to be a beloved part of the family. Megan, in the true spirit of her Grandmother, travelled halfway around the world to begin her new life of adventure and challenge. Of course, moving to Ireland also helped to supply her Grandmother with a variety of her beloved Guinness treats.
Patricia leaves behind a legacy of amazing stories about her adventures both in England and here in Canada. She was a true pioneer in women’s rights, working in some of the hardest male dominated roles at the time. She helped her daughters and granddaughters to understand that they can lead their own best lives and go forward any direction they choose. She remained devoted and loving to her Husband, Istvan (Steve), through the sickness and health, richer and poorer of their wedding vows.
Sheba was tacked up ready for her at the Pearly Gates to carry her through and onward to her afterlife.
Many Thanks to Dr. Obanye and staff of The Holley Clinic for their kindness and compassion throughout her illness. Thank you to the Amazing Staff at Dunrovin Hospice for their care, humour and empathy during her final hours. And finally, a special Thank You to Jen Francis of the Palliative Care Association for listening, advising, and helping when it was needed most.
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