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Elvira (Harder) Dyck

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Elvira’s was one of the first Mennonite families to farm in Yarrow’s reclaimed lakebed. Before she entered Kindergarten, the doctor discovered she had a weak heart (probably from rheumatic fever) and discouraged her parents from exposing her to the exertion of school; she proved everyone wrong. With persistence and God’s help, she overcame, later enduring heart attacks and open-heart surgery, to live to 93. At evangelistic services in Yarrow MB Church, Elvira received Jesus at 8 and was baptized at 12. At the end of high school, Elvira met John from Manitoba. They were married Sept. 24, 1950. Elvira worked as a seamstress and supported John by keeping house, helping shingle the roof, and encouraging his formal education, which led them into full-time church ministry, mainly with youth. Elvira loved leading women’s Bible studies at Union Gospel Mission, women’s ministry at Culloden Church, and a ladies’ choir at Clearbrook Church. She was well-known for hospitality: one year she fed 1,000 visitors! When all four children, Marilyn, Elizabeth, Edward, and Robert, learned to play piano, Elvira refreshed her own musical skills. She sewed all their clothes and took them berry picking, gardened and canned, cared for her aging mother and aunts, welcomed a refugee from Vietnam, cleaned doctors’ offices for grocery money, and hosted birthday parties and Christmas dinners. In retirement, John and Elvira travelled to Germany, Egypt, and Israel, across Canada and the U.S., and on Christian service trips to Lithuania and California. In addition to babysitting daily, every week Elvira welcomed the grandchildren for games and ice cream while their parents attended Bible studies. If the parents returned too early, the children pretended to sleep in a bid to stay later. There were also sleepovers at the cabin, visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus (who resembled Grandma), and Sunday dinners. Elvira’s last phase of ministry was a small sealed unit of dementia patients. She never hesitated to stroke someone’s face or hand and say, “I love you. We’ll always be friends, right?” Hers was a life of selfless love that did not bring lasting fame or fortune, but by those she touched, she will never be forgotten.

  • Birth: September 27, 1929
  • Birthplace:
    Yarrow, B.C.
  • Death: December 23, 2022
  • Parents:
    Heinrich & Erna Harder
  • Married:
    John Dyck, Sept. 24, 1950
  • Family:
    children Marilyn (Harry) Schroeder, Elizabeth (Dale) Parberry, Edward (Linda), Robert (Shannon); 10 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren
  • Church:
    Clearbrook, Abbotsford, B.C.