Obituary – Ethel Helma Kuefler

Ethel Kuefler

With profound sadness, we announce the passing of Ethel Helma Kuefler [nee Sjorlund], our loving and devoted mother and friend to all whose lives she touched. She died on July 28, 2020, at 94 years old, in High Prairie, after a long fight with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

Ethel passed early in the morning when her window first started to fill with sunlight, and when the birds began to sing their melody. That was always her favourite time of day, the morning when it was quiet and she could think in peace.

Ethel lived a genuinely remarkable and generous life. Her strength and commitment to her family have left many tender and loving memories for her sons and their families. Her kindness and generosity touched the lives of all those who knew her. She’d help without an expectation of return, and was always there putting in some of her endless “elbow-grease to get the job done.”

The youngest of 10 children, Ethel, was born on March 29, 1926. Her mother died a year later, leaving her father and siblings with difficult years motherless and struggling on their small farm through the Depression. Ethel was raised by her older siblings and “grew up” with her younger ones. She had many stories about being the youngest in a big family, about having to pitch in on chores, about the simple pleasures like bacon drippings on her toast, or the occasional time when there was enough food for seconds.

That childhood shaped who Ethel became – hard-working, altruistic and breathtakingly authentic. She was wise in so many ways. For example, Ethel had endless farming knowledge and loved being there working in the muck. She knew how to grow an abundant garden filled to the brim with veggies and berries. Without a thought, Ethel knew how to tend to a tearful child, support a troubled friend, and land three delicious meals on the kitchen table daily.

One of her fondest memories was working with animals. She had a special connection with them, especially ones who were struggling. For instance, she knew how to guide a distressed mare and her foal through a difficult birth, gently helping both calm and begin working together. As a result, Ethel, her colts and mares shared a pure love and trust.

“Auntie Ethel” was especially popular with her nieces and nephews because she was “modern” and “carefree,” coming from a younger generation in her big family. She was shy in public, but in the privacy of her home, she was dynamic and energized. For example, Ethel taught family and other children how to water and downhill ski, with the gentle encouragement of a skilled instructor.

Ethel’s affection and acceptance for her sons’ spouses was something she showed every day. She loved each of them as if they were her own. Having grown up without a mother, she knew a mother was needed and she embraced it with a loving and generous heart.

Ethel loved her time in Mesa, Arizona when she’d snowbird for a warm winter. She was “queen” of her holiday park [literally], made friends from all over, learned crafts like paper-tolling and led exercises and outings. She loved to travel and visited countries in Asia, Africa, the South Pacific and the Americas.

Ethel was the beloved mother of Bart [Lauren Shirley, Janice), John [Linda, Lorna] and David [Peter, Caroline], proud grandmother of Bonnie, Kaitlin, Shannon, Michael, Randy, Zachary, Aidan and Corey, and great-grandmother to Davis and Brielle. She leaves her surviving sisters, Pearlie and Rosie, and is predeceased by her loving husband Merton [Chic], sisters Lena, Evelyn, Marney, Ruth, Vivian, and Myrtle, and brother Victor.

Ethel’s family would like to express its sincerest thanks to the staff at High Prairie Health Complex and J.B. Wood Nursing Home for many years of gentle care.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, and an online slideshow is available at https://tinyurl.com/y28lfn29.

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