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Born: Sep 15, 1929

Date of Passing: Feb 07, 2023

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With deep sadness we announce the passing of Dr. Vera Kathrin Fast (nee Suderman) on February 7, 2023, aged 93. After a stroke on January 3, which led to a gradual decline in health, she died peacefully at home with loved ones by her side.
Vera was born in Winnipeg at St. Boniface Hospital on September 15, 1929.
After graduating from Vincent Massey Collegiate, she attended Grace Bible Institute in Omaha, Nebraska. She then pursued teaching, working in the Ozarks, a Hutterite colony and rural schools. She returned to Winnipeg, completing a Teacher's Permit at United College, (University of Winnipeg). It was here she met Peter Fast, husband of 67 years. They married on July 14, 1956 in Bethel Mennonite Church, the first couple to be wed there. Bethel has remained an important part of their lives ever since.
In 1956, Vera and Peter moved to the small Métis community of Loon Straits in northern Manitoba, where they taught for two years. They returned in 1958 to Winnipeg where their first child, Jane, was born. Soon after, the young family relocated to seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. Their second child, David, was born there in 1960. Studies at Princeton followed.
In 1962 the family took a Mennonite Central Committee assignment doing mission work in Indonesia. Returning to Canada in 1965 due to health challenges and the political instability in Indonesia, Peter pursued postgraduate studies in Toronto, and soon after accepted a job in Winnipeg at Canadian Mennonite Bible College (now CMU) in 1966. Vera pursued her own education, graduating from the University of Manitoba with a B.A. in history in 1978. It was the beginning of a remarkable academic career. Vera went on to earn her Master's degree in 1979, which led to her first book, Missionary on Wheels. She then pursued her Ph.D. with well known historian W.L. Morton.
Under his direction, she contributed to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and co-edited God's Galloping Girl, the Peace River Diaries of Monica Storrs (1979). She received her PhD in 1984 becoming a research fellow at St. John's College, University of Manitoba, and collaborating with Dr. Mary Kinnear on several projects, among them, co-authoring Planting the Garden (1987). Dr. Vera Fast, historian, became an Archivist at the Manitoba Provincial Archives at this time. She travelled widely, sourcing and cataloguing documents for their renowned Early Fur Trade and Hudson's Bay Company collection, retiring in 1994.
Far too creative and independent to slow down, Vera began work on Companions of the Peace, the Letters and Diaries of Monica Storrs, (1999) which led to an entirely new project. Through her research, she learned of the Kindertransport, the evacuation of Jewish children from Germany in the 1930's. Using newly available original sources, she wrote Children's Exodus (2011). It was to be her last book, published when she was 82. Shortly after this, she suffered a stroke, which, while it ended her writing career, didn't quash her sparkling intelligence.
Vera, however, was far more than a feminist pioneer, gifted writer and respected historian. She was a loving and supportive parent and spouse as well as an enthusiastic and creative grandmother to Adrian (1989) and Andrew (1992). She was also active in the church, particularly in the prayer ministry, a ministry she helped establish 20 years ago which is still active. She had a strong belief which sustained her and was an inspiration to others.
Vera is survived by her daughter, Jane; son, David (Katheryn); and her grandchildren, Adrian (Nicola,) and Andrew (Lesya).
She is predeceased by her father Jacob; mother Margaret; sister Dorothy, brother-in-law Frank, and husband Peter.
Many thanks to the compassionate, wise and knowledgeable staff at the Palliative Care Program for their exceptional support.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Mennonite Central Committee.
A public viewing will be held at Chapel Lawn Funeral Home and Cemetery, 4000 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, on Sunday, February 12, 2023 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For those who wish to sign the online Guest Book please visit

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Feb 11, 2023

Condolences & Memories (3 entries)

  • I was very sorry to learn of Dr. Fast's passing. I never met her, but have admired her for years as a result of finding her outstanding book, Children's Exodus: A History of the Kindertransport. I learned of her death only because I was looking for her address to send her a letter of thanks. The Children's Exodus has been an invaluable resource for me as I write the true story of a family's escape from Nazi Germany. My sincere condolences to her family. As you no doubt know, you have much to be proud of. May her memory be a blessing. - Posted by: Robert Louis Miller (None) on: Jun 25, 2023

  • So sorry to hear of Vera's passing. May you find comfort as you remember and celebrate Vera's long and productive life. We remember fondly discussions with Vera about her writing projects. Blessings to you Jane, David and families. - Posted by: Dorothy and John Friesen (Friends and colleague) on: Feb 11, 2023

  • So sorry to hear of Vera's passing. We hope you will find comfort as you remember and celebrate Vera's long and productive life. We have fond memories of discussions with Vera about her research and writing projects. Blessings to you Jane, David and families. - Posted by: Dorothy and John Friesen (Friends and colleague) on: Feb 11, 2023

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home & Cemetery

4000 Portage Ave. (Map)
Ph: 2048859715 | Visit Website

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