Walker, inspiration, gentle soul. Born on Nov. 21, 1939, in North Sydney, N.S.; died on Feb. 7, 2015, in Mission, B.C., of leukemia, aged 75.
Stanley Landsky led a quiet, meaningful life. His gift was bringing out the best qualities in others, which he did effortlessly. By simply being, he evoked empathy, laughter and affection.
The fourth and final child of Carl and Joanna Landsky, as a young boy Stanley was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and mental retardation. In 1948, with hope that he could be cured, his mother took him to Montreal where, through doggedness, she had secured an appointment with famed neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield. He tested Stanley and told his mother that there was no operation that could fix him, but that she should take him home, love him and teach him what he was able to learn.
His mother grew to not only accept Stanley's limitations but also to champion education for people with disabilities. Because there was no formal education available to children with disabilities in Sydney schools at the time, Joanna helped to set up a class for them in the Colby School. In that classroom she resumed her teaching career, educating Stanley and many other children with special needs until retiring in 1973.
As they were growing up, Stanley's sisters, Joan and Doris, and brother Jim happily included him in their games and outings, teaching him how to swim and ride a bike. He delighted everyone with his bowling prowess and ability to complete 500-piece jigsaw puzzles. As a young man he loved spending time at the family cottage in Mira, N.S., and listening to Elvis Presley records.
Although he never fully grasped letters or numbers, Stanley had a paper route and collected payment from his customers. If they needed change, he opened his wallet and let them retrieve what they were owed; as far as his family knows, he was never shortchanged. He also worked at the Kincentre Sheltered Workshop and enjoyed hanging out at the Canada Packers warehouse where his father worked.
For decades, Stanley took daily walks throughout Sydney. His long, strong legs never seemed to tire as he silently marched past downtown shops and businesses, always able to find his way back to his family's home no matter how far he wandered. In 1975, in one of the city's first charity walks, he collected pledges from neighbours, so much per mile based on the distance he would cover. On the day of the event, he walked an astonishing 33 miles for Oxfam and was written about in the local newspaper. Those who made pledges cheerfully paid up.
After the deaths of his parents, Stanley moved to British Columbia in the summer of 1991 to live with brother Jim and his wife, Joan Archdeacon. When Jim was dying last summer, Stanley was diagnosed with leukemia and moved in with his new caregiver, Tami Macdonnell. She became his new family, managing his health care, escorting him to social groups, and taking him on outings to Costco where he could walk while pushing a shopping cart for balance. Stanley had to be hospitalized for short periods in his final year, and was so adored that the nurses would argue about who would care for him.
Throughout his life Stanley was included, respected and celebrated. He never spoke an unkind word and although faced with challenges, he found joy in every day. He died without complaining, his dignity intact.
Alison DeLory is Stanley's niece.