Thursday, July 12, 2012
Elizabeth Dueck (nee Plett) was born on April 20 1924 to Cornelius R. and Maria K. Plett of Blumenort, Manitoba. Elizabeth was the third child in a family of 10 children and was the second of 2 girls born. From an early age it was clear that Elizabeth was an intelligent girl. Attending the one room school in Greenland until grade eight, she showed particular interest in grammar, spelling, and reading. One of her favorite books was Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. This love of reading continued throughout her life. Even when unable to read in her old age, she listened avidly to books on tape or the stories read to her by her children and grandchildren.
Although the school teacher visited Elizabeth’s parents to request that they allow her to continue school past grade eight, duties around the house and farm took priority. Elizabeth’s main responsibilities included feeding chickens, sweeping, washing the floor, painting, and mending her brother’s clothes. In the summer, Elizabeth worked in the garden hoeing, picking gooseberries and cherries, as well as digging up potatoes and carrots.
Elizabeth was always a dreamer. Elizabeth said that during her youth, “I was dreaming of someday being important” and “when I read the story of Joan of Ark I thought maybe I could also be a good leader”. It was these dreams which led her to pursue nurse’s training in Winnipeg at the age of twenty-two. Elizabeth’s parents were wary of her decision as it meant she would have to live in an apartment in the city and quite far away from home. Even with her parent’s concerns, Elizabeth enrolled in the Licensed Practical Nursing program at St. Joseph’s Hospital (now Misericordia Hospital). She enjoyed the program and did well in her studies. Upon her graduation in 1947, Elizabeth received the General Proficiency Award for excellence in her academic studies as well as practical work.
Elizabeth’s lifelong marriage and friendship with Willie Dueck began one day when the Plett family was invited to the home of Willie’s family. Willie recalls that “the first time I saw her, I loved her”. A short time later, they met again at a family wedding after which Willie gave her a ride home. Elizabeth remembers that she thought Willie must have made a mistake and could hardly believe that he was coming to visit her. After this momentous first ride together, Willie and Elizabeth continued to visit each other about once a month. The frequency of their visits increased over the course of their relationship until they saw each other about once every two weeks.
The decision to get married was marked with uncertainty for some time. Elizabeth was unsure whether it was time or not for marriage. She also knew that marrying Willie meant that a move to Mexico would be made immediately. Elizabeth stated that when she decided to marry Willie, she was ready to “face the adventure together”. Their wedding on November 21, 1948 was followed by honeymoon which was an adventure that would take them through Western Canada and the United States to Mexico where they would settle along with Willie’s family.
Shortly after arriving in Mexico, a medical clinic began in Willie and Elizabeth’s home. It all started when Elizabeth began giving medical treatment to a man on the colony who had had a stroke. Elizabeth went into the city to speak to a doctor about what should be done and was told to give intravenous medicine to the man even though she had not been trained as a LPN to do this procedure. As Elizabeth was fond of saying, “necessity is the mother of invention”.
Elizabeth continued to perform procedures and give treatments of all kinds, and within only a few months an informal clinic began in the family’s garage. Elizabeth treated all sorts of ailments and sicknesses including infections, cuts, fevers, and coughs. She also delivered countless babies and together with Willie kept a store of medical supplies which acted as the local pharmacy.
Although the clinic primarily served the Mennonites in the area, Mexican people were also frequently treated and in many cases, Elizabeth made house calls to Mexicans, becoming confident in speaking Spanish. When Elizabeth was not seeing patients, she frequently received phone calls from people in the community with health related questions. With all of the time spent providing health services, life was very busy and sacrifices sometimes had to be made where other household tasks were put aside. This clinic set the foundation for medical services in the community and grew overtime so that it is now a medical hospital, continuing to serve the community.
In 1964 Willie and Elizabeth sold almost all of their processions in a large auction in Mexico and moved with their children to the Arborg area in Manitoba’s Interlake. Life again was very busy. Elizabeth reflected that there was no time for relaxation as there were “too many busy things to do and too many children wanting something here and there and everywhere”. Elizabeth was responsible for cooking, cleaning, washing, gardening, and caring for her children. She also worked side by side with Willie on the various businesses they started. First on the farm, then Vidir Lumber, and later Vidir Machine. The employees of each business became part her extended family.
Elizabeth’s personal faith in God was an important part of the way that she treated patients and was evident in the way she lived her life. A nighttime prayer for each of her children and grandchildren was part of her daily practice. She was also a generous and hospitable host for family, friends, and anyone who happened to come by the house. She was always available to those in the community who needed medical advice. Along with her deep appreciation for nature, birds, flowers, and singing, Elizabeth taught many of us to take notice and celebrate the beauty present all around us. She had a way of making each person who she was with, feel special, valued, and loved.
Elizabeth had a keen sense of adventure and loved to travel. She tried water tubing for the first time at age 70, and was never afraid to try something new.
She was also a woman who loved to give. She loved deeply and till the very end she would often try to say the words “I Love you”, even when too tired for anything else. She gave of her time, and her home was often full. She delighted in giving candy to grandchildren and any other children that walked through her door. She wanted to make sure that every visitor would leave with some small gift.
For the last five years of her life, Elizabeth struggled with Dementia. Although this presented many challenges for her and those who cared for her, we also continued to appreciate Elizabeth’s boundless love and affection given through frequent kisses, tickles, and ‘I love you’s’. She also never failed to surprise us and make us laugh with her rye jokes and keen observations.
The legacy of Elizabeth’s love, faith, compassion, and intelligence will continue to inspire and move all of us, those family and friends who were privileged to have her as a part of our lives.
Elizabeth is survived by her husband Willie,
Children: Raymond (Martha), Neil (Mary Ann), Rose, Trudy (Peter Dueck), Bernie (Caroline), Mary (Henry Friesen), Calvin (Anna), Sid (Bea),and Gloria.
Grandchildren: (Claude (Laura), Ben (Kendra), Carlee, Justin, Alicia, Carissa (Ernest ), Alayna, Amber, Kara, Dean, Jirah (Virginia), Josh (Gina), Katie, Zach, Kyle, Caleb, Andre, Nathan and Stephanie),
great-grandchildren Anika, Alliana, Kalia, and Elijah
Siblings: Henry, Albert, John, Corny, Richard, and Elmer
Elizabeth is predeceased by one daughter, Mary Anne in infancy, grandchildren, Kristin, Jason and Renee.
siblings . Gertrude, Abe and Otto ,
parents Cornelius and Maria Plett
The family would like to thank Leona , Bertha and Doris and Clara for the wonderful care Mom received during her last years. They were truly God’s gifts to us.
We would also like to thank Jodine Sigvaldason for walking with us through those final days and moments.
We are deeply thankful for doctors, home Care, and people in the community who have gone beyond the call of duty to support us in this journey.
And we thank our sister, Rose for the incredible way that she has given of herself to be there for mom. We also thank Gloria for making it a priority to support Dad and Rose, and to be there with Mom, especially during the last weeks of her life.