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Roman Wawrzyniec Baranowski was born on 9 August 1926 in Pelplin, Poland. His parents were Waclaw Baranowski (born in Boze Marcisze, District of Ciechanow, Poland) and Marta née Cierzan (born in Wdzydze, Kartuzy District, Poland).

Roman was a schoolboy when Poland was invaded by Germany at the beginning of the Second World War. He was sent to a labour farm in southern Germany, from where he managed to escape to France, hiding with a Polish family outside Paris. He contacted the French Resistance and was smuggled to England to join the 1st Polish Armoured Division.

He was trained in Morse Code and became a Tank Commander at age 18. He also trained at Oxford University as an English Language Instructor and Translator for the Polish Forces in England. Roman fought in the European Campaign with the 1st Polish Armoured Division, and then spent 2 years in Germany as part of the occupying forces.

After the war, Roman met Edith Brenda Overfield at a dance in Scarborough, Yorkshire. They were married on 12 April 1950 at St. Hilda's Catholic Church in Whitby. Their first child, Krystyna, was born in 1951. Roman worked as a Bookkeeper/Accountant for the National Service Hostels Corporation but in a bid for greater opportunity, Roman decided to immigrate to Canada.

He left Southampton, England and sailed for Halifax on 11 April 1953, and was joined in Winnipeg by Brenda and Krystyna in August 1953. Their son Andrzej was born in Winnipeg in 1955, as was their son Stefan in 1965. Roman initially held two jobs, at Safeway and at Western Overseas Travel Agency. He bought shares in the travel company and eventually became sole owner. In 1980, he moved from his Main Street location to his newly built office on Selkirk Avenue.  After the death of his first wife, Roman married Aleksandra (née Michanek) in the 1990s.

Roman was gifted with a wonderful ability to master languages and continued to translate documents in over 27 languages for the federal and provincial governments. During the Cold War, he was consulted by both the Canadian and Eastern European Governments for his expertise in facilitating travel and communication between the Iron Curtain Countries (in particular, Poland) and the West. He also held the appointments of Notary Public and Commissioner of Oaths.

A pillar of the Polish community, Roman helped many families adapt to life in Canada. He was a member of the Polish Combatants Association Branch # 13 and sat for many years on the executive board of the Holy Spirit Credit Union. Roman served as the Mayor of the Polish Pavilion of Turin during the early days of Folklorama. He also organized and led many charters from Winnipeg to Poland, including those for the Sokol Dance and Choir Ensemble.

He also ran the Parcels to Poland service for many years. A Winnipeg Free Press article by Barbara Huck cites the many international firms he dealt with, in particular PEKAO. Roman handled everything from medicine to automobiles, ensuring door-to-door delivery for families in Poland.

Roman passed away in Winnipeg on 15 September 2008, at the age of 82 years.

Copyright: Baranowski family

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