Passed away peacefully in her 90th year on Wednesday, December 21st at Maple View after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. Loving mother of Roswita, Helmut (Susan) and foster daughter Debbie. Devoted grandmother of Nicholas, Adam and Katarina. Predeceased by her beloved husband Jozef on December 26, 2008. Hilde was born in Germany; she was predeceased by her parents, brothers and sisters-in-law, as well as many other family members.
She immigrated to Canada in 1950 to join Jozef in Sault Ste. Marie, where he was already working at Algoma Steel. Both Hilde and Jozef worked incredibly hard to build a life for themselves and their family, and to teach their children the value of education and hard work. Hilde had trained as a teacher in Germany, and it was very important to her to instill in her children a knowledge of the German language and culture. Later on, she taught German at Sault College. She also assisted many Soo residents with the translations required to obtain their pensions from the German government.
When their daughter was six years old, the Zgrajas moved to Prince Township, as Jozef had set his heart on buying a dairy farm. They had to build a house right away, to have a place to live. Hilde had no experience in farming but quickly learned all the jobs involved in a very demanding operation. Meanwhile, Jozef continued to work full time at Algoma Steel.
Two years later, their son was born. Everyone helped in the house, on the farm and in the garden. The garden grew exponentially, and soon the family became regular participants in the Algoma farmers’ market. Hilde was “Commander in Chief” of that part of the family business and took great pride in having the most attractive display of fresh vegetables and flowers.
She became a major vendor and supplied the people of Sault Ste. Marie with fresh vegetables and flowers as well as jams and preserves for over forty years.
Meanwhile, the family grew with the addition of foster daughter Debbie who had a special place in her mother’s heart.
As Jozef approached retirement age, he turned his energies to public service, and he served Prince Township, first as Road Superintendent, then as Councillor. Hilde supported him in both of these roles. When Jozef was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Hilde cared for him at home until his death at Christmas 2008. It was very important to them to keep him at home; they had come to love Prince Township with its spectacular scenery, fresh air, peace and quiet.
Just a year after Jozef’s passing, Hilde was found to need considerable assistance in order to stay in her home, as was her wish. Her daughter moved back to the Soo from Toronto to make this happen, and Hilde was able to remain in her home and look out over the mountain from her favorite living room chair for another four years.
She regularly participated in the Day Away programs operated by the Alzheimer Society and the VON, and enjoyed visits from the Recreation Therapist.
After a life-threatening disease landed her in hospital in December 2013 for a lengthy stay, she lost her mobility and moved into Maple View just before Easter 2014. She adapted well and participated eagerly in the activities, as well as church and community events, with the help of her daughter and the Parabus.
She enjoyed the best possible quality of life up until a few weeks ago when her body decided it was time to shut down. She died peacefully, surrounded by the love of her family and her faithful caregivers.
The family would like to thank many people for their part in supporting Hilde in the last decade of her life, including: the Prince Township Volunteer Fire Department and First Responders who helped Hilde and Jozef remain in their home as long as possible; the Red Cross Volunteer Drivers who drove Hilde to her day progam for three years; Fr. Boguslaw Jaroszek and Sr. Norma Zorzi for their pastoral care; the staff and volunteers at Maple View, especially the team on McCarrol Lake; caregivers Cecile Whalen, Anna Diluzio, Maxine Hurdle and Maria Lento for their devotion to Hilde.
Funeral Mass to be held Thursday, December 29 at 11:30 a.m. at Holy Family Church, with Fr. Boguslaw Jaroszek officiating, followed by a lunch in the parish hall. Spring interment at Hillside Cemetery in Prince Township.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to Holy Family Parish – Building Fund, the Alzheimer Society of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District, or the Prince Township Fire Department.
Expressions of sympathy may be offered at www.arthurfuneralhome.com