On August 13, 1926 Lisa Vollbrecht was born in the shadow of the crumbling ruin of a twelfth century castle in Osterode am Harz, Germany. She would recall playing as a child with simultaneous glee and terror in the cemetery that still surrounds the ruin today. The youngest daughter of a musical family of three boys and two girls, the gene did not resurface until her grandchildren’s generation.
Mom married Alfred Fischer in 1944 and the young couple dutifully took over her father in law’s bakeshop. As a young bride she visited a fortune teller and scoffed when he told her she would marry twice, have 10 children and be rich. Riches come in many shapes and forms so the prophecy came to pass.
Owning a bake shop with endless access to bread was wealth indeed in post-war Germany where hyper-inflation was rampant. But the bake shop was never their dream. Growing Durum wheat was Dad’s dream and being an accountant was Mom’s, so when her father in law passed away, they sold the bakeshop and began working toward emigrating to Canada.
In November 1951, pregnant with her 5th child, unable to speak English and totally penniless Mom set sail for Canada to join Dad who had emigrated 4 months earlier, trusting that he would meet her in Montreal. He did, and together they travelled to Arborfield Saskatchewan where Dad was cooking for a mine at nearby Carrot River. Mom and the kids spent Christmas in Arborfield with the Binz family while Dad had already moved on to Vancouver looking for another opportunity. Four more moves, the birth of a son and pregnant again, Mom put her foot down when they arrived to start homesteading in Cecil Lake in early summer of 1952. No. More. Moves.
Bachelor, Alois Weidinger, graciously took in the whole brood while they began to clear the land and build a house in east Cecil Lake. Two more baby girls would arrive before they moved into their own home.
The farm never did produce Durum wheat, but it produced two more girls and a boy - the magic 10. While Dad worked away from home, Mom looked after the mixed farm; milking cows, planting gardens, mowing hay, sometimes combining barley or shearing sheep while coping with caring for a family with no running water, electricity or telephone. For awhile, despite her lack of English she supervised the home schooling of most of her children because there was no school bus service, and 5K was a bit far for the little ones to walk in winter. It was a time of rich experience.
Leaving the farm after a year after Dad passed, Mom at the age of 48 took her first and only paying job at the Cecil Lake Co-op Store. Having spent half of her life in Canada Mom took her first trip back to Germany at the age of 50. Upon return she immediately applied for Canadian citizenship. Two years later she married Herluf Rasmussen and moved to west Cecil Lake and they began to travel the world while her son Norbert and his wife Cathy Dueck managed Herluf’s farm.
Five years after Herluf passed in 1986 Mom moved to Fort St John where she volunteered for the Fort. St. John Public Library and became very active in the FSJ Seniors Society. She never did realize her dream of becoming an accountant but was a very happy and capable treasurer whenever called upon to do so. Walking home after closing the Seniors Centre shortly before Christmas 1997, Mom was struck by an impaired driver. The resulting injuries cramped her walking style but didn’t alter her determination to remain engaged and active.
In 2003 Mom pulled up stakes for the last time and moved to the Trinity Lodge in Calgary. In 2006, at the age of 80, thanks to her eldest son Alfred, Mom made her last trip to Germany surrounded by her children and grandchildren in honour of her 80th birthday. The Mayor of Osterode attended a special birthday tea and marvelled that she had travelled so far and held her family together through all that transpired.
On the morning of June 1, 2021 at her home, Mom, as she so often did when she needed a break said ‘just let me close my eyes for a minute’ and slipped away.
Lisa Vollbrecht Fischer Rasmussen was predeceased by sons, Heinrich and Norbert, daughter Brigitte, husbands Alfred Fischer and Herluf Rasmussen, and daughters in law Pat and Ellen Fischer. She is survived by 7 children, Alfred (Joan) Fischer, Ursula (Grant) Sawchuk, Judy (Clint) Hein, Eliesabeth (Clint) Conner, Ingrid Fischer, Hilda Fischer (Duane), Hans Fischer, daughter in law Cathy (Rocky) Stewart, 12 grandchildren and 7.5 great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Lisa's name can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society (www.cancer.ca)
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Canadian Cancer Society
200 - 325 Manning Road NE, Calgary AB T2E 2P5