Two lives well-lived now linked by case of former Ontario nurse

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Two lives well-lived now linked by case of former Ontario nurse

Post by Guest on Thu 27 Oct 2016, 14:40

Two lives well-lived now linked by case of former Ontario nurse
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 8:03PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 9:32PM EDT

The two men lived in the same quiet corner of Southwestern Ontario after separately witnessing some of the most tragic moments of the past century.

One had been a Second World War veteran. The other came to Canada when Soviet troops crushed an uprising in his native country.

They died seven years and 50 kilometres apart.

Today, they are known as the first and the last alleged victims of Elizabeth Wettlaufer, the former nurse who has been charged with murdering eight elderly nursing-home residents.

It was an unlikely final twist for James Silcox and Arpad Horvath, two men who had led separate full lives.

According to police, Mr. Silcox was the first alleged victim when he died in 2007.

Mr. Silcox was only 17 when he enlisted in the Canadian Army, at a time when German troops were marching through continental Europe. He spent more than four years overseas with the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, at the time the branch of the military responsible for transport and supply of troops.

His family said he served in all the main theatres where there were Canadian ground troops in Europe – Sicily, the Italian mainland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. He was proud to have been in Holland when it was liberated.

After the war, he wed Agnes Bond, with whom he would remain married for more than six decades. He became a foreman at the Standard Tube factory in Woodstock.

While Mr. Silcox was settling in postwar Canada, Mr. Horvath, who was 15 years younger, was growing up behind the Iron Curtain.

In the fall of 1956, a student protest that was brutally crushed in Budapest led to a full-scale revolution. Soviet tanks rolled into Hungary.

Mr. Horvath, who was 18, was among 200,000 Hungarian refugees who escaped to the West.

In an interview, his daughter-in-law, Audrey, said Mr. Horvath left on his own and made his way to Austria, bribing the border guards with cigarettes and chewing gum.

He and his brother, Frank, eventually moved to Ontario because they had an uncle who lived in Leamington.

“He loved Canada and if anyone said anything bad about Canada, he’d say ‘This is the place that gave me a home,’” Audrey Horvath said.

Mr. Horvath became the owner of a tool and die company in London, Ont.

Johan Gall, a London optometrist, said his Hungarian-born mother had worked at Mr. Horvath’s factory.

“He employed immigrant workers of all nationalities to allow them to get a foothold in Canada. He appreciated the opportunities that Canada provided to people who were prepared to work,” Dr. Gall said in an e-mail interview.

He said Mr. Horvath owned two farms on the outskirts of London. One of the farms was the family homestead and had excavated ponds and its own menagerie of birds and land fauna.

In a tribute that he posted on Mr. Horvath’s online death notice, Dr. Gall recalled the “deer scampering through the trees, peacocks strutting their colourful feather, the sound of guinea hens filling the silent night air and ponds stocked with thousands of trout.”

Mr. Horvath loved hunting, a pursuit that took him across the world. He was also a long-time president of London’s Hungarian Club.

Meanwhile, in nearby Woodstock, Mr. Silcox worked for 25 years at his factory.

He and his wife raised six children. He was known as a handyman and a tinkerer.

In his eulogy, he was described as “a gentleman; a helpmate; a problem solver; a fixer; a builder; a prankster; an animal lover; a true card; a compassionate and loving human being and a man of deep abiding faith.”

As their health declined, the families had to place them in nursing home.

Mr. Silcox stayed at the Caressant Care nursing home in Woodstock.

He suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes and had a hip replacement.

According to the allegations in the charge sheet filed by police against Ms. Wettlaufer, she is alleged to have committed murder on Mr. Silcox on Aug. 11, 2007. He was 84.

There would be another six deaths attributed to Ms. Wettlaufer at the Caressant home.

Then, in 2014, she got a job at the Meadow Park Long Term Care home.

Mr. Horvath was a resident there. He had suffered several strokes and had dementia.

Police allege that she caused his Aug. 31, 2014, death. He was 75 and would be the last person she is alleged to have murdered.

Without giving details, police say the deaths came after Ms. Wettlaufer administered drugs to her patients.

News of her arrest brought shock and grief to families who had accepted that their kin had died naturally.

“They’ve all accepted it and moved on, that it was natural, and now we’re told that it wasn’t,” said Glen Smith, a son-in-law of Mr. Silcox.

At the Horvath family home, a relative mentioned her two young children to a visiting reporter.

“My kids are coming home … I don’t know how to tell them this.”

With reports from Eric Andrew-Gee and Colin Freeze

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/two-lives-well-lived-now-linked-by-a-nursing-home-case-ontario/article32540921/

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