(Nov. 14, 1917 – July 19, 2009)
Erna Ford, a long time resident of Chilliwack, passed away at the Chilliwack General Hospital with her loving family by her side. She was born 91 years ago in a little village outside of Omsk, Siberia, Russia. People may remember Erna and her love of books from the many years she owned and operated her own book shop “Erna’s Book Nook” in downtown Chilliwack. She passed that love of books and learning on to her children and grandchildren and to many others over the years.
Erna is survived by her daughter Brenda (Lorraine) Janzen and son Terry Ford of Chilliwack, grandchildren, Lexa (Brad Day) Janzen of New Westminster and Ross (Nancy) Janzen, and her beautiful great granddaughters; Hailey Marie and Audrey Grace all of Sunnybrook, Alberta. She is also survived by her sister Laura (Jack) Hodges of Chilliwack and her niece; Lillian (Gus) Weiglemann and their children, and nephews; Ken (Helen) Janzen of Chilliwack and their children and David (Carolyn) Dirks of Kitchener, Ontario. Erna was predeceased by her parents Abe and Maria Dirks, her sisters; Mary Northey and Vera Janzen, her brothers; Abe and Nick Dirks.
In 1924, as a child of 6, Erna’s parents fled Russia taking their family along with many other Mennonites escaping the Stalin regime. After landing at Ellis Island in New York the Hutterites took the family to their settlement and from there to Manitoba where they settled in Steinbach. In 1931 the family moved to B.C. and settled on a farm in Greendale.
Erna loved books and music. She looked forward to her bus trips to Vancouver where she enjoyed many opera and symphony performances. To her regret, her failing health and eyesight made the trips too difficult but she retained her passion and keen interest by indulging in music CD’s and audio books.
She also loved to be outdoors and explored as many parts of the world as she could. She was an adventurer who experienced the sights and sounds and smells of North Africa, S.E. Asia, The Orient, China, and Europe. She particularly loved the ruins of Greece, the Pyramids of Egypt and The Great Wall of China. Her only regret was not being able to visit the place of her birth in Siberia, Russia.
She accomplished whatever she set her mind to. Once her children were in school she attended “night school” and completed a bookkeeping course. She worked in the credit department at Sears for many years. Later she worked at Morrow’s Moving and Storage but she always had a dream of owning her own shop. When a little 2nd hand book store came up for sale, she took a deep breath and bought it – much to the surprise of her family. From 1973 to 1990 she owned and operated Erna’s Book Nook. This little store offered her the opportunity to travel. With her son working in the store she was able to fulfill her dream and travel the world. Through the store she also imparted her love of books to her grandchildren. As babies and young children grandma and introduced them to many wonderful stories.
She sold the book store and retired to travel in 1990. After a few years extensive travelling became too difficult so she compensated by taking short weekend and day-long excursions. She would look for any opportunity that enabled her to enjoy and experience something new.
Erna took great pleasure in her grandchildren and imparted her love of adventure to them. She took an avid interest in all their travels right up to the end. She delighted at being a great grandmother and was very proud of her “two beautiful great granddaughters” as she referred to them.
The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Julia Bright who took such wonderful care of mom and to the caring nurses on the 5th floor. We are also grateful to the staff at Eden who gently administered to mom’s needs.
There will be a tea held at Henderson’s Funeral Home on Friday, July 31st 2009 from 2 to 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the CNIB in Erna’s name.
Online condolences can be left at www.hendersonsfunerals.com