It is with profound sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of our beloved mother/grandmother Helen Karney (nee Wajsfelner), at age 97.

Helen Karney was a true Renaissance woman – speaking multiple languages, knowledgeable in various histories, a master chef, art connoisseur and gallerist, music aficionado – with an innate curiosity that never ebbed. When asked how she was able to retain all this knowledge, she would respond, “It was just my European upbringing.”

A Holocaust survivor who believed that she outran Hitler by sheer luck and her mother’s resourcefulness, Mom never lost her fighting spirit. Although she was born in Radom, Poland, her family soon moved to Danzig – a German free city. The household was non-observant, but Zionism was paramount to the Wajsfelner identity. As a result of her father’s socialist/ Zionist activities, the family was stopped on their way to Palestine and never again had the opportunity to leave Europe before the Holocaust. Our mother spent most of the war years escaping from one location to the next, mainly in the south of France. Even after surviving a myriad of horrors, education was still a primary concern, and she earned a graduate level degree in comparative grammar and fine art history from the University of Montpelier.

Self-possessed, with a keen interest in others, she left a strong impression on everyone she met. She will be vividly remembered by a wide circle of family and friends.

Predeceased by her parents, Freida (Krajndel) and Maurycy Wajsfelner, and her husband, Azriel Karney. She will be deeply missed by her sister, Esther Cowan; children Tamara and Gary Fine, and Avery Karney and Adeana Axler; her grandchildren Ari, Alana (Evin Broder) and Aliza Fine, and Shira, Edyn and Dalia Karney.


Our deepest gratitude to her miraculous care team: Dr. Suzanne Trudel, Dr. Ciara Whelan, Dr. Mary Elliott, Dr. Uri Sagman, Dr. Miri Zekster, Dr. Russell Goldman, Suzanne Rowland, Dior Caruso, Vieriska (Blanche) Alvarez, Jocelyn Piodena, Andrea Wallace, Susan Duco, Vilma Paniza, Christina Payos and Mila Rillo. You are the best.


Please direct donations to: The Helen Karney Myeloma Research Fund at Princess Margaret Hospital. at 416-946-6560.