October 9th 1927 – July 19th, 2019
Elke was perhaps the most stubborn and determined person you will ever meet. Born to two psychoanalysts in Berlin Germany, Elke cut a path that could only be navigated with the strength and determination that she demonstrated through her childhood in wartime Berlin, veterinary college as the only woman in the class, a relocation to Canada, the loss of her closest friend Ursula, the establishment of a veterinary practice that lasted 42 years and the loss of her daughter Katherine. When Elke’s own three children were teenagers she remarried to a wonderful man, Bob, who had four teenage children of his own and so the legend of the family of 7 unruly teenagers was born with Elke and Bob at the helm. It was ultimately after Bob’s death that Elke needed support and relocated from Ottawa to Cumberland to be close to Jan, Amanda and Vijay.
She came to Cumberland at age 81 and was warmly and kindly welcomed and taken in by this community. She arrived as “Jan’s mother” and in short order became known as the “Chicken Lady”. Her Chicken Lady title followed her very successful “Chicken Campaign” during which she went door to door with her petition to have the Cumberland Bylaw changed to allow residents to keep backyard chickens – after she was told she had to get rid of her own two beloved backyard hens Bertha and Susan. Elke was a fighter for justice and for what she believed was right. She was known for her handwritten signs around the village exhorting people to save the trees, and to love one another. She was a frequent participant at protests and rallies, always warning people never to forget how easy it is for fascism to take hold.
Elke was a supporter of the Cumberland Forest and nothing gave her more pleasure than to walk in the forest and to look out from her home over the forest and the mountains. “I look out and see the mountains every morning and it always puts me in a good mood” she would say every single day. She was also a passionate Streamkeeper and was involved in the annual “Fry Rescues” for years. Every summer the lower reaches of Perserverance Creek dry up leaving the Coho salmon fry stranded in pools, where they are caught and transported to Comox Lake by the Perserverance Creek Streamkeepers – Elke always insisted on saving every last little fry. The Streamkeepers were generous and kind in their inclusion of Elke as her mobility became more compromised.
Elke had a glorious last day walking by the ocean enjoying the beauty of nature and friendship, she fell asleep on a bench under a plum tree looking over the ocean, and slipped away a few days later. A beautiful end to a good life.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your help in celebrating Elkes life.
Donations in her honour to the Cumberland Forest Society “Perseverance Creek Purchase” would be gratefully accepted and a commitment to walking every day would please her tremendously. When asked the secret to her long life, her reply was always “Never stop moving”<3