Helga passed away Sunday, September 4, 2022 at age 94 at the Meaford Long Term Care Centre, after suffering a stroke from a fall in March 2021. She had already been starting to suffer from dementia, but had been enjoying life until her fall.
She is survived by husband Donald (90), sons Peter & Chris, and brother Harald (in Germany).
After Helga & Don retired to Thornbury from Toronto in the early 1990’s, she became quite involved in local clubs like Probus and the Bruce Trail Association, hiking the trail end-to-end in her early 70’s, and would also meet up with local friends with German backgrounds. She downhill skied until age 70, and did cross-country for years after that. Her earliest trip to the Blue Mountains was with a special ski train from Toronto to Craigleith in the late ‘60s.
Helga was born in Dresden, Germany. During the 1945 bombing of the city, her family escaped her burning home & neighbourhood, survived the partial collapse of a building in which basement they sheltered, and became a refugee. (As a teen, she had been pressured by authorities into being a member first in the girl’s equivalent of the Hitler Youth, and after a change of management, the Communist Young Pioneers!) Her family escaped from the Soviet zone of occupation by various means, with Helga travelling by train to the west with forged Russian occupiers’ papers in 1947. Almost all of her 1947 high school classmates remained in the east, although Helga met some again at a reunion 50 years later.
As life became more normal over the years, Helga eventually went to college in applied bio-chemistry, and worked in a dairy lab. While her relatives including two brothers remained in Germany, she thought it would be interesting to visit the USA, or failing that, Canada. Applying by mail to the University of Toronto on a co-worker’s recommendation, she got a job as a Faculty of Pharmacy lab technician, where she worked for many years after flying over in 1964. She settled down in this country after meeting husband Don later that year. Later she ran a consignment used clothing store with a friend for a decade.
Helga did volunteer work, becoming VP or President of the Home & School associations where her sons went to school, and was a 40-year counselling & fundraising volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society after her own bout with breast cancer. At home, Helga made crafts for the kids, and always had a neat home and well-tended garden that she could putter around in even in her later years.
A service celebrating Helga’s life will be conducted on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at 11 o’clock at the Ferguson Funeral Home in Meaford.
As your expression of sympathy, donations may be made to the Bruce Trail Association through the Ferguson Funeral Home, 48 Boucher St. E., Meaford, ON N4L 1B9 to whom arrangements have been entrusted. www.fergusonfuneralhomes.ca
Ferguson Funeral Home, Meaford, ON
Make a donation in memory of Helga Marie Chapman (née Wünsche)Donations: Bruce Trail Conservancy
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