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Dietrich Rempel

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Dietrich was born a month after his 3-year-old brother Frank died. His mother nearly hemorrhaged to death from grief and his 10 lb. delivery. Over the next 8 years, another Frank was born and died, and two more brothers were born before the German army’s arrival. The last Frank was born 2 weeks after the family arrived in South Poland. Frank and their mother were rescued from death by an imprisoned Jewish doctor. No even bedbugs could dampen Dietrich’s adventurous explorations. A 1944 relocation from Katscher to Ratibor resulted in many new experiences, including daily de-lousing. In December 1944, their father was “enlisted” to supply the German army in Czechoslovakia with provisions. In January 1945, the family fled west across the Oder River in open horse-drawn wagons in -40 Celcius, with Frank suffering double pneumonia. The U.S. army office disallowed their deportation to Siberia, an answer to older sister Helen’s night-long prayers. Dietrich’s father, imprisoned at Auschwitz since May, was released in September 1945. His mother’s heart attack was not fatal. July 1, 1949, Dietrich’s family sailed on the S.S. Samaria to Canada, arriving in Quebec City July 10 and in Chilliwack, B.C., in time for raspberry and hop picking. Deitrich graduated high school in 1955; attended normal school 1955–56; taught in Abbotsford 1956–57; and married Dorothy in June 1957. The couple moved to Kitimat, B.C., for 2 years of teaching. They welcomed Ken, Pearl, and Jolene in Chilliwack, and Linda in Kansas. After a 1962 UBC Bachelor of Arts, it was off to Elkhart, Ind., for a Bachelor of Divinity and MDiv; then to Inman, Kan., for pastoral ministry in Hoffnungsau Mennonite Church. In 1972, West Abbotsford Mennonite Church called them; they stayed 10 years. A 3-year conference minister term was followed by a 10-year ministry at Eden Mennonite Church, Chilliwack – the church where Dietrich and Dorothy had been baptized in 1954 and 1952. In 1995, they said “Yes” to serving in Aussiedler ministry in Berlin, Germany. Dietrich had a radical gastrectomy in 1997. A 12-year, part-time chaplaincy at Tabor Home, Abbotsford, closed their formal ministry in 2015. Dietrich and Dorothy enjoyed bookbinding and care group blessings. They belonged to Bakerview Church for 17 years and Clearbrook MB Church for the last 14 months. With patience and love, Dietrich was Dorothy’s primary caregiver through Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Dorothy died with Dietrich lovingly playing the harmonica at her side. Dietrich’s back pain increased over his last 6 months. April 19, he was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In hospital and hospice, Dietrich made friends and a deep impression on staff and fellow patients.

  • Birth: April 11, 1935
  • Birthplace:
    Osterwick, Ukraine
  • Death: May 15, 2023
  • Married:
    Dorothy, June 1957 [d. Aug. 23, 2022]
  • Family:
    children Ken [d. 1980], Pearl Unger, Jolene Taylor, Linda Dalian; son-in-law John Loewen [d. 1992]; 8 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren
  • Church:
    Bakerview, Clearbrook MB, Abbotsford, B.C.