March 23, 1928 – February 3, 2023
Our beloved Mother, Betty, passed on to Glory surrounded by loved ones in the wee hours of the morning of Feb. 3, 2023. Mother was born in Duchess, Alberta to parents Henrich and Elisabeth Retzlaff. Two years prior, the young couple had fled from Siberia to find freedom and a new home in Canada. Mother met her husband, David Nickel, in Rosemary, AB where they both attended the Rosemary Mennonite Church. They were married on April 9, 1948, the day before the flood of ’48 deluged southern Alberta.
After farming for 3 years, they received a call to full time Christian ministry. Their first assignment was to plant a church in Taber, AB. With two young children, their meagre earthly possessions and faith that God would lead them, they left their families and friends and moved to Taber. Thus, they entered what would be their life’s service to God and to people. They were always a team, Dad in the spotlight and Mother in the background where she was most comfortable, assisting in any way she could while also caring for the 5 children who made up their family. They pastored churches in Taber, Chilliwack, and Vancouver. Our home was always full of people and how Mother fed them all and found places for everyone to sleep still remains a mystery to us. She was hospitable and kind to everyone who came into our home.
The final chapter of dad’s ministry was spent as chaplain at the Menno Home. This necessitated their move to Abbotsford, which delighted Mother, as the majority of their children and grandchildren resided there. They enjoyed their retirement years tremendously, spending much time with family and friends. Dad passed away on November 18, 2019.
The three years that she lived after Father’s death were very difficult for our Mother. She suffered several life altering fractures, as well as the loss of almost all memories of her life. The last 2 ½ years were spent in Menno Home, E2. We are unable to find adequate words to describe our gratitude to the staff of E2 who found themselves in the midst of Covid and put themselves in harm’s way every day as they so lovingly cared for the residents. Our gratitude and respect know no bounds.
One of the greatest gifts our parents gave to us was their love for each other. Theirs was a true and enduring love. We miss them but are confident we will see them again. Mother was predeceased by her husband of 71 years, David; son-in-law Don Voth, and grandsons Jonathan Ewert and Adam Nickel. She is survived by children Elma Voth, Ed (Alison) Nickel, Leona (Bert) Ewert, Lillian (Doug) Vincent, Irene (Norm) Claassen and a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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