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Russell Smandych

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February 23, 1956 - May 9, 2023

Dr. Russell Charles Smandych age 67 of Winnipeg, Manitoba, passed away on May 9, 2023 at home surrounded by his wife, children and their spouses after a two-year battle with mesothelioma.


He was born in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, to William and Elma (née Todorowich) Smandych on February 23, 1956. He grew up in Kamsack alongside his five brothers (David, Kenneth, Donald, Robert, Richard) and one sister (Barbara) having fun with his many cousins and neighbourhood friends.


He attended Assiniboine Elementary School, Kamsack Junior High, and Kamsack Collegiate Institute where he developed lifelong friendships and an appreciation for learning. He went on to the University of Saskatchewan where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History. Not knowing what to do with his life, he traveled to Vancouver, B.C. where he was encouraged by Dr. Simon Verdun-Jones to enroll in the Criminology program at Simon Fraser University. He completed his M.A. in Criminology in 1981. It was during this time that he met Kathryn Ann Ward, his wife of 42 years. After their marriage on May 2, 1981, they traveled to Toronto where Russell entered the PhD program at the University of Toronto under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Ericson. In 1986, Russell and Kathryn moved to Winnipeg where he started his appointment as an Assistant Professor in Sociology and completed his PhD in 1989. Throughout his entire career, Russell conducted rigorous comparative and social-historical research on legal and institutional social change. The broad reach of this work resulted in him receiving the 2010 Internationalization Award from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Manitoba. Russell will be remembered as a kind and dedicated teacher, committed to providing his students with the critical skills necessary to be global citizens. After his retirement in 2021, he was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus in recognition of his distinguished service to the university through teaching, research, and scholarship.


Russell had two passions in life; his work and his family. He was a devoted father to three children (Timothy, Amelia, and Alissa), grandfather (Gramps) to seven grandchildren (Landon, Kamron, Lily, Charles, Ava, Lewis, and Loic), and father-figure to many. His children will remember him for the many summers spent camping, swimming, boating, water-skiing, tubing, hiking, running, cycling and visiting the many cousins, aunties and uncles at Madge Lake. Timothy, Amelia, and Alissa always knew that “no” meant “develop a sound argument and you had a chance”. His grandchildren know him as a loving Gramps always ready with a warm hug and a good book. In 2021 we bought a place in Nanaimo B.C. so that he could visit his Nanaimo grandchildren as often as he pleased. He loved to walk the trails around Westwood Lake and Mount Benson. As the children grew up our family gatherings grew as well as we welcomed international students and friends to our home. Several of these students have since made Canada their home and have gone on to lead productive academic careers. During his last few weeks his biggest joy was the many visits from family, friends, and colleagues but particularly the laughter and love from his grandchildren.


Family and friends are welcome to attend a celebration of life which will be held at 2pm on June 2, 2023 at the Unitarian Church located at 630 Wellington Crescent, Winnipeg.


Memorial donations can be made to the Dr. Russell and Kathryn Smandych bursary fund, to posthumously continue his support of students in need.


Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St, Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 -

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