December 20, 2020
Johanna Zahara (nee Dinkelman) passed away sadly just one day shy of her 100th birthday at Vernon Jubilee Hospital. She was born December 21, 1920, in a little town called Borculo in Holland. She was the eldest child and had many fond memories of her life there.
Johanna was always a hard worker and when the war hit, she did not sit idle as a young woman but held many jobs which included working in factories making streetlights and blood transfusion bottles for soldiers as well as stints as a train conductor and housekeeper.
For all her hard work, there was nothing available to buy and no entertainment to spend it on, so all the money that she had worked so hard for was worth nothing after the war. However, once it was all over and she settled back in Borculo, this young and beautiful Dutch woman met a handsome young Canadian soldier who was stationed there.
Mike returned to Canada and Johanna followed a couple years after with their firstborn son, Aschwin, to settle into life on a farm in Stenen, Saskatchewan where she had five more children, Ed, Ron Wilma, Marianne and Anita.
Life was tough in those days for the young Dutch woman, but she never shied away from a hard day’s work and was always determined to make the most of what little the family had.
After saying goodbye to farm life, Johanna and Mike settled in Vernon where she worked as a housekeeper at Vernon Lodge for many years. She never held a driver’s license and could be seen walking everywhere even well into her 90s.
Johanna took trips back to Holland and one of her fondest was with her daughter, Anita. She ventured to Australia and took many trips to Vancouver Island to visit her children, grandchildren and eventually great-grandchildren.
She loved to read and rarely missed an issue of Women’s Weekly and faithfully read The Morning Star. She will be remembered for her love of fresh cut flowers and the beautiful ones she grew, especially her red geraniums and roses, for her immaculately kept home where she always welcomed visitors from close by and abroad, for her genuine compassion for others, for her beautiful blonde hair, for her gifts of Purdy’s chocolates, for her birthday cards that she sent to grandchildren and great grandchildren with $20 bills tucked inside.
She loved going for a drive, a good cup of tea and the odd gin and tonic on a hot Okanagan summer day on her back patio with her granddaughter and daughter-in-law during their annual visits from the island with the great grandkids.
However, she will be especially remembered for her love for her family. All she ever asked for later in life was for her family in Vernon to visit or even call her more often, so in lieu of flowers, reach out to your elderly relatives. Whatever is going on in your life, make the time even if it’s for a quick call to say hi. It is a simple thing to do yet means so much. Please don’t wait until they are just a memory.
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