Errol Chenery with wife Lila in 1962
William Errol Chenery (1899-1968) was a Canadian mechanic who remarkably chose to serve in both world wars. His family kindly allowed me to share his story for Remembrance Day.
Queen Elizabeth graces my historic Canadian $1 bill
Today we mourn and remember a great Queen. My late friend, Dr. Valerie Giles, researched the Queen in Canada and shared personal memories that I believe she would have been pleased to share here. We learn about Princess Elizabeth’s first visit to Canada in 1951, her 1953 coronation, and her 1994 visit to open the new University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, B.C.
Susanne’s daughter Lena’s wedding to Kurt von Schmude in 1948.
Susanne stands at the far left; my father beside the groom.
My father’s aunt Susanne Plett Janzen was a courageous widow who sheltered my parents when they first escaped to West Germany in 1947. Her flight from Ukraine in 1943 also brings to mind so many fleeing today.
The Prince George Citizen announces Valerie's new column on Feb. 7, 1998.
A dear friend and excellent writer, with two newspaper columns and two published books, passed away suddenly last December. Valerie’s writing journey is explored in this blog post, along with some personal memories from my sister, Kathy Plett.
Young Lutherans and a Mennonite veteran, ca. 1945
Krippendorf, East Germany (See Marianne Preisser Rempel below)
As I have been translating obituaries to learn more about families and history, some stood out for their touching writing. Others represented pivotal or representative moments in Mennonite history. Below are some of these memorable stories. All were also shared with Bethel College’s Biographical Wiki for each person named.
Hermann Jantzen's inspiring memoirs
The amazing 1880-1881 trek of Mennonites from South Russia to Central Asia offers many life lessons. Some of those are in the lives lost along the way. It is my hope to honour the dear people who died while following their dream, or that of their family’s, to achieve freedom from military service. A short travelogue accompanies this list of all those found who died until 1884, when the first group left for America.
Walter Ratliff’s excellent book discusses the journey Helena took
Helena Graewe Warkentin (1865-1942) shares her amazing story about how she travelled across deserts and mountains in a wagon train from South Russia to Turkestan, Central Asia in 1880.
Dimitri and Agathe with children (in birth order):
Anna, Tina, Daniel, Willy, Liselotte and Peter in Romania, ca. 1950
My dad’s aunt Agathe Graewe wrote from Jena, Germany after the city was bombed in 1945. The family later wrote from another sort of war zone, after they were forced to move to communist Romania. I’ve also included my dad’s story of their legendary romance.
Heinrich Plett (1853-1934) and Katharina Teske (1857-1918)
I was thrilled to find records that filled out the family tree of my great-grandmother, Katharina Teske Plett. Translated letters from Russia and Saskatchewan in the early 1900s are shared below, along with Teske and Plett family trees.
John was sketched by an artist* in 1948.
My uncle John Boleak (1925-2008) was a charming man who made everyone laugh. He also survived five years of captivity in Russia.