Pietertje “Nell” Haagen has family genetics to thank for her longevity.
Her mom passed away just two months short of her 100th birthday, an aunt lived to age 96, and other family members lived into their 90s.
But Nell surpassed these milestones on Monday, Aug. 22, when she reached her 105th birthday.
Family members gathered that afternoon for a small celebration at The Mayfair, an Abbotsford nursing home where Nell resides and which previously operated as Ebenezer Home. Her family and church helped build the Marshall Road facility.
During the celebration, her daughter Jenny Moedt – one of Nell’s five children – asked Nell to what she credits all her years.
“The Lord gave me a long life and blessed me with a nice family,” she replied.
Haagen is one of Abbotsford’s most senior residents. (At least two others in Abbotsford are 106 and 105 years old.) The former title holder, Nora Deadman, passed away in February 2014, just short of her 108th birthday.
Nell was born Aug. 22, 1911 in Friesland, Holland. She trained as a nurses’ aide and worked in a local hospital with patients who had disabilities.
She married Jack Haagen, who was a baker, and they had five children.
In 1956, the family travelled by boat from Holland to Quebec, and then by train to Alberta.
There, they purchased bakeries in Bellevue and Edmonton, with the entire family working together to run the bakeries.
They relocated to B.C. after Jack retired, and settled in Ladner and later Abbotsford.
Nell has always loved music, and played the organ in church.
She has 17 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.