Frieda (Petko/Paetkau) Fast

January 16, 1918 – November 6, 2014

Frieda (Petko/Paetkau) Fast went to her heavenly home on Thursday, November 6, 2014 at Chilliwack General Hospital. She was 96 years old. The last of six children, Frieda was born on January 16, 1918 in Neu (New) Chortiza in the Baratova region of the Ukraine to Heinrich Paetkau and Helena (nee Klippenstein) Paetkau. Always a precocious child, at the age of 14, she was sent to Odessa on the Black Sea for her teacher training. On November 28, 1939 she married Stefan (Stepan) Minaev, who, as a widower, brought a daughter, Galya (Annie), to their union. They subsequently had 3 children: Larissa (Lora, 1940), Walter (1945) and Magdalene (Maggie, 1949). Frieda and Stefan fled the Ukraine with their 2 girls, Annie & Lora, in October 1943; they were part of The Great Trek in which thousands of Mennonites fl ed the Ukraine to escape political and religious persecution. The family ended up in Gronau, Germany, in a refugee camp run by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Sponsored through the MCC, they immigrated to Canada in May of 1950. Immediately after their arrival in Canada, they made their way to Carrot River, Saskatchewan and worked to repay the price of their passage. Once that year of enormous hardship was fulfilled, they moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Both Frieda and Stefan were trained as teachers and were fluent in a number of languages, one of which was Russian. In 1953 they found employment in Grand Forks, B.C. as Russian language teachers to the children of the Doukhobors, a religious sect, who had settled there in large numbers. Both Frieda and Stefan became a part of the Grand Forks community and were well-respected. During her Grand Forks years, Frieda attended the Gospel Chapel with her children and became a valued member of that church community. Frieda was widowed in 1973; she remained in Grand Forks, not moving to Sardis, B.C. until her marriage to Henry Fast on August 30, 1975. Henry died in February of 1981. In April 2001, Frieda moved into her apartment on Knight Road. There she made many friends, was active in the Greendale Mennonite church (now called River of Life Church), was an active member of the Canadian Bible Society as well as serving as a correspondent for the Mennonite paper Der Bote. Because of her skill in the German and Russian languages, her services as a translator were sought after. She was a voracious reader throughout her life. She nurtured that passion in all of her children and was a constant example of the importance of education. Frieda never lost her passion for learning. But it was her deep faith in God that sustained her through an often turbulent life. Frieda was preceded in death by her parents, her 5 siblings, her two spouses, and her step-daughter, Annie Fournier. Frieda is survived by her daughter Lora (Gordon), son, Walt (Gail), daughter Maggie (Mike); grandchildren Jacqueline Fournier, Trisha Petko, Stephanie Beaulieu, Craig Dorrell, Jan Dorrell, Todd Chenore and Chris Chenore; and, 5 cherished great grandchildren: Haley and Selena Joe, Desiree and Tyson Beaulieu and Charlie Chenore. On Saturday, November 8, 2014, Frieda was laid to rest at Greendale Cemetery. The burial service was officiated by Pastor Steven Martinolich of the River of Life Church. Pall Bearers were Stephanie Beaulieu, Mike & Maggie Chenore, Lora & Craig Dorrell and Walt Petko. Funeral services were provided by Henderson’s Funeral Home in Chilliwack. A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, November 21st at 1 p.m., at the River of Life Church, 42369 South Sumas Road, Chilliwack, B.C. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in honour of Frieda Fast to The MCC at the Memorial Service or checks can be sent to MCC Canada, 134 Plaza Dr., Winnipeg, R3T 5K9 Frieda’s family would like to thank the staff at Chilliwack General Hospital, particularly her Palliative Care Specialist Dr. Bull and his nurse, Kaye for providing the highest standard of professionalism and compassion. The family is indebted to the Home Health Care System in Chilliwack who helped Frieda stay in her home for as long as she did. Special thanks to Betty O’Handley, Frieda’s “angel,” who loved and cared for her like a daughter and our deep gratitude to Pastor Steven Martinolich of the River of Life Church.

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