Mary Thielmann (Hildebrandt) passed away peacefully, and as gracefully as she lived her life, on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 in Menno Home in Abbotsford, BC. Her family was able to be with her - a person at a time - during her last 8 days on earth. What a priceless gift this was!
Mary was born on March 26, 1931, in Einlage, Ukraine. She was the third daughter born to Anna (Dyck) and Heinrich Hildebrandt after Annie and Erna, and was followed by her brother, Henry. Mary’s childhood and education were unpredictable and disrupted by World War 2. Her first two school years were in the Russian language, and then continued very sporadically in German when the German army moved in. Her family fled Ukraine, making their way to Germany. Ten months later they were moved to Poland and lived there until the beginning of 1945 when, at night, they heard a knock on their window and were warned to leave because the Russian soldiers were moving in. God protected them, and they were able to escape to Venigerode, Germany. The Russians took this area over later on, but after some time the family was able to move into the “American” zone. From there, they boarded a ship bound for Canada and made the 10-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, immigrating to Canada. It was the spring of 1948. Mary began a new chapter in her life - in a land of freedom - as a 17 year old girl settling in Chilliwack BC with her family.
Mary and Albert Thielmann met in Chilliwack, although she had first seen Albert on the street below her window in Germany, and Albert had seen her onboard the ship to Canada. They were married on September 19, 1954 and began their life together in Vancouver and then Burnaby where their family grew to three sons and two daughters. Mary loved being a mother and fully enjoyed her children, often referring to all of them as her blessings.
Their church community was a very important part of family life. Mary and Albert never lost the wonder of this new found freedom they now had in Canada to freely gather together in churches to worship God. Bible reading and worship songs no longer had to be kept top secret as they had throughout their young lives in communist Russia. They became invested members of 43rd MB Church in Vancouver and then helped form the new church plant of Willingdon MB Church in Burnaby. Central Heights Church became their church family when Mary and Albert realized their vision of a country property and moved to Mt. Lehman BC in 1978.
Mary was often found outside maintaining the many garden areas in the yard, or picking up hazelnuts during harvest season in the hazelnut orchard they had planted. The kitchen was the other place she could be found, cooking, baking, canning or dehydrating something. Her bread, and hazelnut cake and squares were welcomed gifts and favourites with people in the community as she was sure to pack up something from her kitchen to share with others. She cared about all the people she met and looked for ways to “reach out" to them in some tangible warm-hearted way.
Mary and Albert adored each other. They were business partners, traveling companions who travelled extensively world-wide, shared an intimate spiritual relationship, and opened their home to countless overnight visitors or guests at their table during their 53 years of marriage. When Albert passed away in 2007, Mary continued living in Mt Lehman until four years ago when it became necessary for her to move into long term care.
Mary’s relationships with God, family, friends and neighbours were her passion. She fully embraced her life as the expression of God’s goodness. She always declared her trust in the Lord in every situation. Mary Thielmann did not complain or criticize, but expressed love and blessing to all. This gift of love is her legacy to her family and all who knew her.
When Mary was asked by a granddaughter to write a legacy letter, she wrote this note by hand and signed it:
We have a great God. God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit. My prayer and wish is that all our descendants would love God, obey God and serve God. Love, Grandma Mary Thielmann
This prayer includes and will extend beyond the family she now leaves behind: Marv(Heather), Bruno(Sharon), Al(Deb), Marianne(Bruce) Konrad, Evy(Steve) Klassen, 17 grandchildren + 11 grandchildren-in-love, 22 great- grandchildren plus 3 on the way.
She also leaves behind her sister Erna Hildebrand, and brother Henry(Janet) Hildebrandt and her beloved nieces and nephews. A garden memorial will be held in Mt. Lehman for the family on Saturday afternoon, May 30th, 2020, with the burial following at Maclure Road Mennonite Cemetery in Abbotsford.