Sandra Froese.

Sandra Froese: Setting down roots

Sandra Froese looks back on her childhood with fond memories. She was raised in Lynden, Washington, a community that was quite rural during her growing up years. “I would pick berries in the summer and since my friends lived on a dairy farm, I would spend my time haying as well,” she recalled.

After graduation, Sandra went to work as a dispatcher for Evergreen Northwest Breeders, an insemination service for dairy cattle. She enjoyed the position and was sorry to leave but when summer was over it was time to start classes at Western Washington University. “I enjoyed school and my favourite subject was English; so much so that I chose to pursue a career in education,” she said.

Then, one fateful day, Sandra decided to go skating. This decision forever changed her life for on that day, she was destined to meet Vic Froese, the man that she would eventually marry. “All the Chilliwack guys used to go skating in Lynden back then,” she laughed. They began dating shortly thereafter and two years later they married, interrupting Sandra’s university education. Their marriage was not without a little controversy for Sandra was strongly advised against the prospect of marrying a foreigner. “I had one person encouraging me to marry him but everyone else was against the idea. For them, it was a fear that I would loose the protection of my American citizenship. I went ahead and did it anyway and today Vic and I are still happily together and I enjoy having my Canadian citizenship,” she said with a gentle smile.

After their wedding, the couple settled in Chilliwack where Vic was a teacher at Yarrow Elementary. They began their family and Sandra resolved to stay at home with the children, although she eventually went back to university.

The couple ended up leaving Chilliwack so that Vic could take on a position as master teacher at Simon Fraser University. After a time, he left and went back to Western Washington University to obtain his masters degree. He then landed a teaching job with the University of Manitoba and the Froese family remained in Winnipeg for the next sixteen years. It was during this time that Sandra went on to receive a certificate in Early Childhood Education from the University of Manitoba and for six years worked for the Morning out for Mothers, a pre-school program in Winnipeg.

After sixteen years, opportunity called yet again and the family left Manitoba’s largest city and headed back to the west coast. For the next thirteen years, Vic worked at UBC before deciding to retire.

After retirement, the couple returned to Chilliwack but after having been away for about thirty years, the community had grown and changed. “When we returned, some friends were still living here but many had moved away. It was quite the adjustment. We had friends and a certain routine in Vancouver and all of that was gone now. You feel a bit lost, with no real purpose,” she admitted.

Realizing that Sandra needed to get reacquainted with her new community, her sister-in-law invited her to join Probus. Probus is a social club of retired professional and business people. These are people who though still active, have largely retired from active service. “Probus holds a vital purpose. It’s designed to stimulate thought, interest and participating in activities at a time in life when it is easy to become complacent and self-centered. The clubs are initially sponsored by a Rotary Club or other Probus clubs.” This opened up a whole new world for Sandra and today, she’s actively involved as the club’s president.

Another of Sandra’s passions is gardening. She’s always had a green thumb and enjoys puttering around the garden, landscaping her yard whenever the mood and opportunity presents itself. She has a vegetable garden and has been given the dubious honour of being recognized as the Queen of Spuds. “There was a competition for growing potatoes in containers and apparently I do that well,” she laughed. Sandra takes pleasure in being involved in the Floral Arts Club as well as the Garden Club, where she was named president for 2011. As past president Lynne White penned in a recent newsletter, “Sandra is extremely capable and will be a wonderful leader for our club.”

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