Chilliwack Progress: Wednesday February 5, 1986, page 5D
Katie Falk - 'Positive attitude counts'
By Penny Lett
Katie Falk wanted to be profiled. She had good reason. "'I figured that readers would say to themselves, "If this lady can do it ... so can I'. Maybe my story will cheer others who feel down.
"Things in life do not get better ... it's a question of attitude," she reasons. Mrs. Falk has made good use of her positive attitude.
She was born in a Russian Mennonite settlement in 1919 - just after the revolution. "The Russians were murdering the men and the female babies. My mother hid me in the house, machine shed, chicken barn or horse and cow barn - all one long building. My father was taken and murdered. My mother was left with seven children."
"The Canadian government and the Mennonite church arranged for the family to escape to Winkler MB. The church supported them for one year. "The Church planned marriages for widows. My mother married a widower she had never seen until just before the wedding. We moved to Swift Current, SK. I started school. "We had suffered from malnutrition. I had a stomach all bloated like a little football. I was skinny, the smallest in the class. We were looked on as strangers, so I didn't like school."
"In 1928, we moved to Mullingar, SK and a one-room school. I was there 10 years and finished grade 8," she says. A sister's wedding figures as her happiest childhood memory. There were lots of people and young Katie got to wear her "very first new dress." It was pink.
In 1928, her father's failing health forced the family to move to B.C, to live with her older brother. She went on to employment in Vancouver. "I kept house for room, board and $5-a-month". I wanted to be a nurse. I worked days and finished Grades 9 and 10 at night school. "I came home and showed my mother my certificate. She was proud." She beams appearing taller than her five feet, one inch (1.53m) height.
After 18 months training as a practical nurse at Vancouver General Hospital, she became a live-in assistant for Chilliwack's Dr. L.A. Patton. There in 1943, she re-met Herman, her future husband. "Our mothers knew each other in Russia. I met him when I was in the sandbox," indicating her size being then barely above ground. "Herman had been injured in a logging accident. He was brought to Dr. Patten's office for treatment." In time, Herman formally asked her mother and stepfather for her hand marriage. He was granted his 24-year-old bride.
"My mother invited all of Yarrow, about 300 people [to my wedding]. There was only one written invitation. Each person read it and passed it on," she says. "It was war-time with rationing on a lot of things. I stood in line for two hours to get a nice pair of nylons for my wedding."
The couple had two sons and a daughter. They have also 'fostered' no less than 52 other children over a period of 32 years. "I love kids. My husband did too. We would go away for a weekend once a month just to keep in contact with each other."
"I've always been organized. I sometimes had a whole line of laundry out before the children got up," she says of daily life. One foster child stayed for nine years; another for only two weeks. At one point that had five foster children in their home. Her husband's heart attack forced them to give up 'fostering'. "I keep in touch with 14 of my foster children, some by way of visiting and some by visiting. "We have reunions. I have eight grandchildren. Even without my husband, we are 15. In 1980 we had to rent a place to have a pot-luck reunion," she smiles.
Mrs. Falk is now widowed and lives with her poodle. She is far from inactive. "I knit, sew and crochet. I oil paint, I visit. I go to 'morning break' exercises. I have 20 push-ups at a time. I walk a mile a day… two miles lately to get rid of the effects of Christmas," she says as she pats herself. "I haven't thought about my futer. This is my future. No I can appreciate what has happened in my past. Life is beautiful.
"Attitude has a lot to do with it."
Obituary from MB Herald July 2, 2004 page 29
Katarina (Katie) Ann Falk
Katie was born in Dolinowka, Russia to Abram & Helena Dyck.
Her father was killed in the Bolshevik Revolution before Katie was born December 18, 1919.
Katie and her mother arrived in Canada in January 1924 where her mother, Helena Penner Dyck married John J.M. Klaassen in 1924.
With 7 children each and two more after they were married, there were now 16 children in the family.
Katie was baptized in 1936 and moved to Yarrow BC in 1938.
On November 7, 1943, Katie married her childhood sweetheart, Herman Falk, at the Yarrow MB Church.
The ceremony was performed by Rev. J.A. Harder in German and Rev. J.H. Epp spoke in English and the church choir provided the wedding music.
Katie & Herman raised three children of their own, Shirley, Irene and Henry, and over the years, they cared for 52 foster children in their home.
Katie wrote that the love of her life was children and spent many happy hours playing with children long after her own children were grown.
She was a beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother; she is dearly missed by all those who have precious memories of her.
She dedicated her life to giving to other and was at her happiest when she could serve the Lord and those around her. Her favourite Bible verse was John 3:16.
Katie Dyck Falk passed away May 13, 2004 at the age of 84. She leaves behind 3 children: Shirley (Al) Jackson, Irene (Jerry) Jones and Henry (Grace) Falk; 10 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
Interment was at Yarrow Cemetery