Zofia Balawender Stohandel

Zofia Stohandel (nee Balawender) was
born on January 20, 1925r. in Stepań,
Wołyń, Poland. On February 10, 1940
she and her family were deported to
Soviet Russia where they were engaged
in forced labour clearing forests. In
August 1942, along with General Anders’
Polish army, the family reached India,
where Zofia completed high school and
undertook administrative studies in Bombay.
She was a very active member of scouting
and completed numerous leadership training courses.
In 1947 Zofia arrived in England, where she married Kazimierz Stohandel.
The couple emigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1952. Here Zofia continued
her education (English, administration, accounting and psychology),
enjoyed a long career as an accountant and ran her own accounting business.
As the first Chief Commissioner of the Polish Girl Scouts in Canada, Zofia
was the catalyst for the organization of Polish Girl Scout units across
Canada. For more than 80 years she was a dedicated and engaged
scoutmaster whose accomplishments included the development and
delivery of leadership training and World Scouting Jamborees. Zofia
authored many articles for scouting magazines and the Polish diaspora
press. Over the course of her life, she was a role model and mentor for
thousands of young Polish Canadian women who went on to become
leaders in the Polish Canadian community, and the Canadian society at
Zofia was also a volunteer for the Canadian Polish Congress as its
Financial Officer, Chief of the Audit Committee, and Secretary of the
Canadian Polish Millennium Fund. She fundraised for a new Polish Parish
in Scarborough. She belonged to the Polish Combatants’ Association.
She was active in the Wilno Catholic parish community of St. Mary’s,
the Wilno Heritage Society and local garden club. In 2012 she was
decorated with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta
awarded by the Government of Poland for her lifetime of service.
For many years she lived on Long Lake in Kaszuby, Ontario, where she
re-organized the scouting archives, and wrote a complete history of
Polish Scouting in Canada. She passed away at St. Francis Hospital in
Barry’s Bay, Ontario on October 29, 2019. She will be greatly missed by
her friends in Barry’s Bay and her Scouting Family.