Hettie Frederick
Hettie Frederick
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Obituary of Hettie Frederick

Hettie Frederick, a long time resident of Groundbirch, BC, was taken from us suddenly on Thursday, April 25, 2019 in Groundbirch, at the age of 93 years. 

Hettie was born into this world on April 15, 1926, to Johanna and John Erdely, their second child of three, in Austria. She had a brother, Johnny who was 5yrs older. We know that during this period in Austria due to the loss of the first world war, times were tough and there weren't a lot of opportunities for many people and the family decided to move from Austria to look for a better life abroad. 

John traveled to Canada ahead of the rest of the family on April 24, 1928 to get established on an Alberta farm and on April 3, 1930 the rest of the family followed. According to the passenger list from the ship that carried them to Canada they lived in Unterloisdorf, (a small village on the Austrian Hungarian border 110km south of Vienna.) and embarked from Bremen (in northern Germany) and landed in Halifax, from there made the long journey to Fort Saskatchewan Alberta. Where grandma attended a small two room school from grades 1-5. Her younger sister Emily, was a welcomed addition to the family when Grandma was 8-1/2yrs old. 

In Grandmas own words the 1930’s were tough for the family, the great depression was in full swing and was felt by almost everyone everywhere which would test their resiliency forcing them to move to where the work was. Her notes say that the farm they were on was unsuitable and that they moved to Kelowna to find work, where jobs were seasonal and hard to get, her dad, mom and brother all found work, such as picking asparagus, apples and other seasonal jobs. She attended a small rural school from grades 6-8, but also has commented that her school days were almost nil as the rest of the family were working that left grandma to stay home to look after her younger sister.  

After 2yrs in Kelowna the family moved back to Alberta to farm in a new and better location. The future was beginning to look brighter as the depression years were largely over by the end of the 1930’s. they built themselves a new log home on the new farm and grandma remembers her dad replacing the horses with a new tractor and how thrilled she was when they got their first radio. It’s no surprise that grandma wrote about that first radio with such enthusiasm, given that at 93 she was pretty much up to speed with many of the latest technologies. She carried a cellphone and owned a computer. She also loved photography and we can only imagine her enthusiasm when she got her first camera. Brandi’s friends used to refer to her as the picture taking grandma. All of us grand kids have lots of memories of her taking our picture and when photography went digital she embraced it, she would spent a lot of time at her computer photoshopping, and organizing her photos.  

She doesn't note of any formal schooling once returning to Alberta, but does talk about helping out on the farm and she must’ve already been skilled in the kitchen because she noted that she would go and help out on neighbouring farms helping prepare meals.  

As a teenager while at one of the neighbours homes, she got a job offer to work for a doctor in Edmonton who was in need of help in his family’s home. She embarked on a new adventure and traveled the 100 miles to Edmonton via train. She mentions becoming close to Betty the eldest daughter of the doctor and writes fondly of the time they spent together. While in Edmonton she met her brothers friend, Roy Madden, who had trained with Johnny at camp Bordon Ontario before both being deployed in the second world war. Roy was on his way home to the peace region after 4 years overseas. Her notes suggest that she and Roy had been corresponding via letter before their first brief meeting at the train station. The meeting must have went well because shortly afterwards she got an invitation to come visit Roy and his family in East pine. She ended up at the East Pine ferry crossing in 1946 (no bridge) and the Madden farm was just on the other side. She comments on how beautiful the area is, and she must have had a welcoming visit because a wedding was planned for January 8, 1947.  

Grandma and Roy lived in East pine in what she described as a small but comfortable temporary home for 3yrs and in that time welcomed 2 Children: Dennis, born November 20, 1947 and Sharon on April 13, 1949. With help from the VLA (veterans land act) they moved to GroundBirch at the end of December 1949 to establish their own farm, moving the 12x28 house the had in EastPine with them to GroundBirch which was increased in size and updated with electricity in 1962, and she would live in that house on the farm for the rest of her life. Grandma wrote how fond she was of GroundBirch mentioning that it was very an active tight knit community, very few people owned vehicles and one had to rely on their neighbours more so than today. There were often dances on the weekends at the community hall, box socials to raise money for the community at christmas time. and lots of people were settling in the area in the early days.  

When one lives as long as grandma did, not all life events are good. But she was no stranger to adversity, and already as a young child had moved half way around the world, grew up largely during the depression era and had had her resiliency tested again when tragically, she lost Roy to cancer in 1964 and was a widow at the age of 38 with two teenage children. but often during times of tragedy people find the strength to overcome these challenges and can continue to thrive. Dennis, at around 16 yrs of age, had to grow up quickly and to his credit was able to run the farm, and with additional help from the community that she loved Grandma was able to continue life on the farm. A few years later after Sharon had moved out and gotten married she and her husband Rick moved back to the farm with a new baby, grandmas first grandchild!, followed shortly thereafter by a second grandchild. The house was full again and Dennis had remained close by and was only a mile down the road on his own farm starting his own family.  

In the early 70’s Grandma met Dale Frederick, who had recently moved to the area from Colorado. In her own words, with each of them alone they took a chance to plan a life together. In November 1972, they took a quick trip to Regina, Saskatchewan and came back married without letting anyone else in on their plan. She quickly settled into a new life with Dale, she describes in her journal how she adjusted to not only farming but helping to run a logging business with employees and assisting where she could. She discovered a love for traveling, and visited many places over the years with Dale across Canada, the US, Australia, new Zealand to name a few. I think that her favourite part about traveling though, was coming home, she seemed most comfortable at home and as she got older she would opt out of some of the traveling and my dad would accompany Dale on his adventures.  

Growing up I can remember Grandma loved to have us over especially during holidays and birthdays, any event that she could justify serving a big meal; she loved to cook, and the whole family can attest to how amazing she was. Her dinner buns were legendary, and you learned quickly not to go over there on a full stomach. She didn't seem to care much for driving and didn't get her drivers license until later in life, and would only be comfortable driving in ideal conditions, with open road in front of her, passing anyone who got in the way. Once in a while you'd see grandma on the highway but she never saw you, always 10 and 2 with her eyes on the road. This meant that in the winter time she could go weeks without going into town and she would still be able to whip up a gourmet multi course meal on little or no notice when she had company over.  

When not busy in the kitchen, tending to her garden or other task outside, grandma loved to play music on her organ. She wrote how she loved Christmas especially when the grandchildren were young and how special it was watching all the happy faces as they unwrapped gifts from under the tree. I’m reminded of a story about Christmas time. Grandma was hard to buy for, but luckily I had found success the preceding Christmas or two in buying her those animated Christmas ornaments that she really seemed to enjoy. So in sticking with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality I was confident she would like this one as well. When we went to give her gift I noticed she had other similar ornaments all sitting together on one table and as she opened the gift she proceeded to tell us that she hoped it wasn't another one of those ornaments and that she was giving the others away. I think I may have left with one of those ornaments that night.  

Grandma witnessed so much change during her 93yrs here on earth. Being born in a time where horses were more common than pickup trucks. But she managed to keep up with the times and at the same time stick to the values and lessons learned from her early upbringing. It’;s always sad when you lose a loved one and grandma was no stranger to this having lost her daughter Sharon to cancer November 30, 2004. A shock to any mother and I know this was very hard on her as no mother should have to suffer through the loss a child. This was followed a few years later by Dale in 2009. With great difficulty she was able to persevere and overcome these losses knowing that one day they would be reunited. Anyone who knew grandma knew that she liked to have things her own way and could be stubborn. She lived life on her own terms.  

Grandma, I take comfort in the fact that you lived to your last day on the farm that you loved, doing the things that you loved and are now reunited with lost loved ones. For those of us that remain we are all drawn closer together when we share in your memory. I hope that as I live the rest of my life, I can live up to your example of overcoming adversity and continuing to grow all the while staying current with the changing world while at the same time staying true to my roots. 

A funeral service was held on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at 11:00 AM at the Peace Mission Chapel, Progress, BC. Pastor Lee Stephenson officiated, interment followed in the Mountainview Cemetery, Groundbirch, BC. 

For friends so wishing, donations may be made in memory of Hettie to the Peace Mission Chapel, Box 100, Progress, BC V0C 2E0. 

Very Respectfully Reynars Funeral Home & Crematorium