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Date of Passing: Jan 17, 2022

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1924 - 2022

We are saddened to announce the peaceful passing of our dear mother, Wilhelmina Fritschij, on Monday, January 17, 2022. Mom left us while holding the hands of two of her daughters. As in life, Mom was surrounded by the love and prayers of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren when she passed in grace and with dignity.
Wilhelmina was predeceased by her husband Joseph Fritschij, in 1988. At the age of 97, Wilhelmina was the last surviving Oosterwegel Family member of her generation. Wilhelmina leaves behind seven children: Harry (Eleanor), John, Mary-Anne, Sandy (Don), Michael (Patricia), Ingrid (Michael) and Kim (Ken). She was the proud Oma of twenty-one grandchildren: Tara, Nikki, Michelle, Melinda, Marissa, Jennifer, Lisa, Amanda, William, Kalynn, Tim, Jennifer, Chris, Andrew, Marijke, Julia, Anna, Matthew, Mark, Travis and Jevin and eleven great-grandchildren: Tyson, Owen, Jonas, Chloe, Addison, Jace, Mason, Annabelle, Logan, Hudson and Amelia. Wilhelmina is survived by one sister-in-law, Ans Fritschij of The Netherlands and many, many nieces and nephews around the world.
Wilhelmina was born in Wageningen, The Netherlands in 1924. She loved her childhood and often entertained us by sharing stories of wonderful adventures with her parents, Johannes and Maria Oosterwegel, brothers Antoon and Jan and sisters, Jos and Ria. Willy was a teen during The Second World War. She described many courageous adventures as she travelled by bicycle to secure food and supplies for her family. In exchange she delivered supplies and messages to the farmers, during the occupation of Holland.
As a young woman, Willy loved community stage acting, bicycle holidays and enjoying the fun of life. After completing High School and Business College, Willy worked in a business supply office. Besides translating business correspondence and dealing with suppliers, she also modelled the clothing for buyers and magazines. Willy was able to speak four languages: Dutch, German, French and English.
In 1949, Willy met her future husband, Joseph. Together, they made the decision to immigrate to Canada in 1951. Winnipeg was the destination, Little Britain to be exact (following the adventurous path taken by Joseph's father 42 years earlier). Wilhelmina and Joseph had their civil wedding at the City Hall in Uithoorn, The Netherlands. Then Joseph left his bride and traveled by ship to Halifax. Several months later, Wilhelmina followed in style - by airplane! They were married at St Margaret's Roman Catholic Church in Little Britain, Manitoba. A reception followed at The Winnipeg Winter Club. A few days later, they were both working in the sugar beet fields. They worked at a variety of jobs as they established themselves in Canada. 1953 was a proud year as they purchased their farm acreage in East St Paul. That remained the Fritschij Family home for the next 62 years. Over this time, it became the center of our lives. When we grew up, Mom lovingly welcomed us back into her arms whenever we needed a safe place to land.
Like all immigrants, Wilhelmina worked hard alongside her husband. They were frugal and made many sacrifices for the benefit of their children. Mom had a wonderful, fun-loving spirit and always made a cozy home for her family. Holidays were celebrated with joy and laughter; work was done with a sense of purpose. Education was key and Mom made certain that all of us had this opportunity. A gentle nudge for some, a push for others, set us in good stead for our futures. Mom was our first teacher in our faith, and through the example of our Mom and Dad, planted the seed and nourished it within our home.
Along with all of the work that she did for her family of nine, Wilhelmina also served as a Councillor for the R.M. of East St Paul. She was on the School Board for the River East School Division and later for the St. Boniface Diocesan High School. Wilhelmina volunteered in many activities that supported her grandchildren's schools, church and community activities. She enjoyed being a part of the Ladies Auxiliary and the friends that she had at Holy Redeemer Parish (where she was a founding member).
Mom always had a sense of adventure. As we grew up, she always tried to create fun times. Whether it was a day trip to the beach or a road trip out West, she filled the air with excitement and anticipation. The family would ride in our Volkswagen van, outfitted with designer curtains made by Mom! Mom planned several road trips throughout Canada, stopping at every site along the way. She made several trips back to Holland, traveled in Europe and the United States. She even went to Disney World at the age of 70! Traveling with Mom was a hoot. She loved to sing and often sang the wrong words, laughing all the way.
As a family, we feel blessed to have had the opportunity to care for Mom at home, until the last months of her life. We treasure her resilience, faith, wisdom, counsel, compassion and most especially her fun and love of life. We always felt that she would live forever. Mom thank you for the gift of your life! Your "joie de vivre" lives on in our hearts!

"Rust Zacht Lieve Moeder"

The family would like to express sincere thanks to all of Wilhelmina's home care staff, the staffs at Concordia Hospital, Deere Lodge Centre and Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home for their kind and compassionate care of our dear mother. Your sensitivity and dedication during this difficult "Covid" time was so very much appreciated.
In lieu of flowers, and if friends so desire, a donation to Siloam Mission (a charity Wilhelmina supported regularly) would be appreciated.
Due to Covid restrictions, prayers and funeral mass have been limited to immediate family only. However, your presence in thought and prayer will be a comfort to us.
Viewing and Prayers followed by Mass of the Resurrection will be held on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, at Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Parish, Winnipeg. Interment will follow at Holy Family Cemetery. Father Anthony Austin officiating.
Friends Funeral Service in care of arrangements. A video of Wilhelmina's "Celebration of Life" will be available on their website following the service.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 22, 2022

Condolences & Memories (4 entries)

  • Mrs. Fritschij, was a very strong lady. I was told by one of her kids that she wish her children would behave like the Stroet kids. May you have many wonderful memories of you Mom. We are thinking and praying for all of you. - Posted by: Elly and Gene Tarnopolski (Friends) on: Jan 30, 2022

  • Our condolences in the loss of your Mom, a wonderful lady! - Posted by: Michael & Jan Lapka (business/neighbourhood acquaintence) on: Jan 24, 2022

  • Mrs. Fritschij was an amazing women. I remember her welcoming smile and her strong Dutch accent, much like my Mom's. She raised a wonderful family in the big house with a windmill out front, not far from our family home. May you always remember how it felt to have fun with her and be loved by her. I hope those memories will bring comfort in time. - Posted by: Anita Mann (friend of Mary-Anne) on: Jan 24, 2022

  • Mary-Anne I am so very sorry for your loss. Your mom was a very special lady. - Posted by: Joyce Poff (Friend) on: Jan 23, 2022

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