Born February 13, 1937 | Stalino, USSR (now Donetsk, Donbas Region, Ukraine)
My family is here and my good life is here. I am a lucky man.
In November 1941, four-and-a-half-year-old Leonid, his parents and extended family crowded onto a train to escape the rapidly approaching German army. Leonid never saw his father again. Red Army soldiers dragged the already injured Michael Luker off the train and back into military service; he was killed near Moscow. To this day, Leonid recalls the birth of his brother Yefim on that train. Evacuated to Kazakhstan, Leonid’s family endured harsh conditions.
Returning to Stalino following its liberation in 1943, Leonid eventually graduated as a mining engineer, becoming a shift supervisor in one of the area’s largest coal mines. Married (though later divorced), he was blessed with a daughter. When Leonid and other members of his extended family applied for exit visas, they were stripped of their livelihoods. Allowed to emigrate two years later, they spent a further six months in Italy awaiting Canadian immigration approval. On April 10, 1980, they landed in Calgary to a warm welcome by relatives and the Jewish community. Leonid studied English while labouring at entry-level jobs. He later worked at the Canadian Occidental gas plant in Balzac, where he retired. Leonid married Trudy Cowan in 1982. They have since enjoyed travel, camping in the mountains and hosting large dinners at home. From time to time, Leonid’s mother, Baba Manya, lived with them. Leonid’s greatest joy was reuniting with his daughter Emilia, her husband Sergei, and their two children when they immigrated to Canada. Leonid played soccer at the Calgary Jewish Centre (now the JCC) and on other teams well into his senior years. He enjoys fishing, golf and workouts at the JCC and is an avid community volunteer.
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