Olenka Michelle McDowall, 40

Olenka Michelle McDowall, 40, of Spearfish, passed away peacefully at her home on Aug. 3, 2019.

Olenka was born to David and Marysia McDowall on May 5, 1979, in Spearfish. She was a bright, joyous, and precocious child who was faced with one of life’s greatest challenges. At the age of 8, the summer after second grade, doctors discovered a large brain tumor at the base of her brain. It was too dangerous to surgically remove, and the only chance of survival was to stunt the tumor's growth with radiation treatment.

Surviving that summer was a miracle, and every day since then has been a gift. But the original tumor and treatment were not without consequence. She fought an uphill battle and overcame nearly every mental and physical obstacle thrown at her. Through it all, she resolutely and proudly never missed a day of school, and equally committed herself to work as an assistant at the real estate office of RE/MAX In The Hills in Spearfish. 

She blossomed into a resilient, determined woman who never stopped striving and learning. Even within the past year, she took up the piano in earnest, and performed at the Dorsett Home this past Christmas holiday. One of her great passions was quilting. She regularly took classes and tackled big projects, where she got to hone her craft and exercise her creativity, but mostly it was a means of expressing her love. 

Olenka was the most caring and loving person in our lives, and she was always thinking about how to help, support, and express her love to those around her. She was always eager to engage in conversation, recount a joyous moment, and share her positive outlook. She was an unwavering ray of light.  

This past week was one filled with many joys: she visited her brother, sister-in-law, and nieces in California, walked on the beach, cheered for her Denver Broncos during their preseason game, and had dinner with her parents. She passed away in her sleep on Saturday.

Oleńka is survived by her parents, David and Marysia McDowall; her brother, Jason McDowall, her sister-in-law, Doris, and her two nieces, Madelyn and Zoë; her grandmothers, Kazia Kolano, Joyce Wilkinson, and Opal McDowall; and many cousins, aunts, and uncles.

 A memorial mass will be held on Aug. 10, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Spearfish.

 Arrangements are under the care of Fidler-Isburg Funeral Chapels and Isburg Crematory of Spearfish. Online condolences may be written at www.fidler-isburgfuneralchapels.com.

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