Surrounded by family and love on August 3rd, 2019, Gertrude Frieda Johnson (nee Kunkel) passed away peacefully.
Gertie was born on January 30, 1930 in Neudorf, SK. She grew up with her parents and 3 brothers attending school and church in this farming district until they bought their first farm in April of 1946 in the Coma Park District near Atwater, SK. She had a good childhood.
Life on the farm for Gertie was very busy helping her mother as much as possible with housework, milking cows twice a day, rock picking by hand and stooking sheaves. She enjoyed a break from the farm taking cans of cream by horse and buggy to Zenita, a 5 mile trip. While there she would gather the mail and few groceries. She had a horse she loved and a guitar she enjoyed playing.
In 1947 Gertie met the love of her life Darrell W. Johnson. They courted, going out to shows and dances. Darrell left for Flin Flon, MB., for work and Gertie moved to Flin Flon also in 1948. She was hired on with Hudson Bay Co. Hospital working in the laundry dept. She enjoyed her work immensely with 2 other gals who she described as lovely and they all got along very well.
Gertie married Darrell W. Johnson on December 22, 1949. It was 50 below Fahrenheit that day. The following October in 1950 they welcomed their first born daughter and as Gertie would say, she became a full time housekeeper and bottle washer. The family quickly grew to 8 children and a move back to Atwater took place in 1965. There Darrell did construction work at the Esterhazy Potash Mine. While living in Atwater two more children would be born, making it 10 in all.
The next move in 1967 took the family to Saskatoon where Darrell hired on with the construction of Cominco Potash mine. Once completed he was hired on permanently with Cominco and became Mill Foreman. The family soon moved to Delisle to be closer to Darrell’s workplace.
While raising the family here it was a very busy life. Gertie’s eldest son recalls Mom always trying to please all the children at dinnertime; when someone didn’t want to eat a really good nutritious dinner she made and just wanted a peanut butter and jam sandwich and dip it into a glass of milk.
Fun times were plentiful as well as love and hugs & kisses. We all have great memories of summer camping and fishing trips to various lakes. Often traveling to visit our grandparents and many aunts, uncles and cousins making lasting memories.
Once all the children were in school and at an age where we could fend for ourselves Mom took on a Monday-Friday part time evening hours job cleaning offices at Cominco Potash Mine and in Saskatoon cleaning office buildings on weekends. This helped bring home some extra money to support the large family. Sometimes she took some of us along and we got to help a bit which was a lot of fun for us. She was a hardworking lady with endless energy who always prided herself by dressing nicely for special occasions and keeping her hair looking beautiful.
Gertie and Darrell also loved curling. They curled in bonspiels, ladies, mens and mixed. Gertie teamed one winter with a sister, Emma and their team entered a grandmother’s bonspiel in the mid 70’s in Saskatoon and they proudly won first place. The following year they entered again and made it into the final.
Gertie and Darrell were also Licensed Reflexologists. The two had a home office area set up where side by side they helped many many people with various ailments. This was very rewarding helping people with health issues, especially when their ailment ceased.
Once retired they moved to Saskatoon to condo life and remained there until 1997. They missed having a house and yard and decided to move out to Radisson, SK. Not too far from city life. It was there they spent time beautifying the yard. Making lovely flower beds, planting fruit trees and many towering poplar and lilac trees. This really caught the eye of the town and people soon started to follow suit. Then there were the Christmas lights! They kept a well-manicured yard and weedless garden. They loved summer and working outdoors in the yard. Gertie especially loved gardening.
They also loved taking fishing trips and even just going casting for the day to the Borden bridge. Gertie and Darrell really enjoyed old time dancing and followed polka fests whenever possible. They danced beautifully – teaching all of their 10 children how to polka.
Traveling to visit family & friends was very much enjoyed also. In winter time card playing was a favorite with friends and family, along with jigsaw puzzles, sometimes until 5 in the morning, knitting, and crafts. They were always busy visiting their 10 children, 20 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren at the time.
In September of 2011 Gertie and Darrell returned to condo life in Saskatoon in the Sutherland area. Here they enjoyed entertaining local relatives & visits from traveling relatives along with their own large family. Going shopping, breakfast outings to Smitty’s, lunch or dinner out, monthly bingo & cake night in their building. Watching sitcoms, Young & The Restless, ball games (Blue Jay fans), hockey, Olympic events, classic and old western movies.
Gertie enjoyed reading the daily newspaper and doing the puzzles within it, crocheting many dishcloths and crossword puzzles. Mom was a wonderful cook and baker. We all loved coming home to visit and enjoy their company and her very delicious meals and desserts. It was always a good fun time. She loved keeping busy indoors and outdoors, rarely sitting idle. She loved life and had a great sense of humor, always able to help Darrell remember a joke he may have partly forgotten. She took care of so many of us for many years for which we love and appreciate her dearly.
Mom’s health issues required a recent move into Preston Park 2 Retirement Residence. Mom loved their new residence and all the outdoor light that filled their suite and the view to outside through the many large windows. She simply loved it.
Sadly her health declined quickly and we tearfully had to say our goodbyes as she peacefully passed away.
Gertie is one of 9 children. She is predeceased by; her grandparents; her parents, Julia Kunkel (Mueller) and Gustave Kunkel; 4 brothers; 2 sisters; 4 sisters-in-law; George (Martha) Bender, Otto (Lizzie) Bender, Joe Bender, Emma(Cliff) Annabel (nee Bender), Margaret (Karl) Adolph (nee Bender), Art (Josie) Kunkel, Mary Kunkel; 2 nephews, John Adolph and Ron Bender; 1 great grandchild, Ryan Joseph (Michelle); one son-in-law Rodney Mittelholtz; daughter, Denise Catherine; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Gertie was greatly loved and will be sadly missed. She will be forever in our hearts.
Gertie will be greatly missed by her loving husband Darrell of nearly 70 years; 9 children; 21 grandchildren; 27 great grandchildren; 7 great-great grandchildren; 2 brothers; 2 sisters-in-law and families; cousins; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Darlene (Len) Bernges; Michael (Olivia, Janine, Nathan) Bolton; Michelle (Chad and Melissa) Bolton; Aaiden; Taiha; Dominik; Landon; Ellena (Chad) Harlan; Odin (Melissa); Mark (Brooklyn, Alexandra, Kailey, Blake and Mataya) Bolton.
Gloria (Mark) McMahon; Dawn (Colby, Mason and Alyssa) McMahon; Dwaine (Gracie and Emily) McMahon.
Our Beloved sister Denise (April 3, 1953 ~ June 18, 2010) and her late husband Rodney Mittelholtz (March 18, 1955 ~ April 7, 2009). Their family, Neil (Heather) Mittelholtz (Carley) and Christina Mittelholtz (Tristan and Chase).
Geraldine (David) Wiebe; Jaime Hart (Desiree, Haile and Tyler); Sheldon (Melissa) Hart (Housten and Braylen).
Russell (Brenda) Johnson; Lindsey (Chad) Termul; Chad (Cora) Johnson (Boedy and Lincoln); Stacey (Chad) Laing (Harper).
Darrell (Susan) Johnson (Amber and Kendall).
Tracy (Marty) Weinberger; Jennifer (Trevor) Mills (Ava); Bradley.
Donelda (Dale) Muchowski ( Ashley and Ryan).
Curtis (Lorene) Johnson (Cade and Lexi).
Rhonda Hobbis (Jaxon).
2 brothers and 2 sisters-in-law; Kurt Kunkel, William (Elaine) Kunkel, Eleanor Bender (Joe).
Mom leaves with us many good times and special memories we will always hold dear.
A Celebration of Life for Gertie will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at the Nostalgia Country Hall (5185 Strathcona Avenue)- just across the road from Riverside Estates. See nostalgiacountryhall.com for a map. In lieu of flowers please make a donation in Gertie’s memory to the Canadian Cancer Society or a charity of your choice.