Obituary of Albert Willms
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Albert Willms died peacefully on February 28th, 2022, at the age of 95, in Waterloo Ontario, surrounded by his immediate family. He is predeceased by his wife, Betty. Albert was deeply loved and will be missed by his four children, Esther (Dennis), Dorothy (Jim), Joanie, Larry (Marilyn) his ten grandchildren Mark (Rachel), Rachel (John), Katey (Jordan), Noah, Nicole (Adrian), Sophia (Matt), Barrett, Hannah (Simon), Abby and Jonah, and his four great grandchildren, Elizabeth, Margot, Juno and Linden. He will also be missed by surviving siblings John Willms and Mary Willms, as well as in-laws Mary Willms, Helen and Herman Adrian, Linda Fast and Janice Fast. He is predeceased by brother Edward Willms, brothers in law Jake Willms, Dave Fast and Abe Fast, as well as sister in law Hilda Willms, and former son in law Larry Bender. He will also be missed by many nieces, nephews and cousins. His memory will be cherished by special companion Helen Epp.
Albert was born on August 2nd, 1926 in Hamberg, Ukraine, to Russian Mennonite parents. His early years were shaped largely by the harsh realities of the post-revolution Soviet Union. Following the advent of WWII, Albert’s journey took him to Poland, Germany and Italy, where he spent a year as a prisoner of war. Upon release, he lived for five years in Paraguay, before being reunited with his mother and siblings in Canada in 1953. He met and married Elizabeth (Betty) Fast in 1955, and raised four children in Hamilton, Ontario. During this time, Albert and Betty were heavily involved in nurturing both Hamilton Mennonite Church and the Welcome Inn Community Center.
On arrival to Canada, Albert had a brief stint as a bricklayer and on the line at GM. He then studied English at McMaster University, and began his vocation as a high school teacher, in a range of subjects that included English, Russian and German until he retired in 1986. Throughout his life, his priority was people. Albert loved his family, students, church community, and most recently his Parkwood Mennonite Home community.
After a painful struggle with cancer over the past 9 months, and exhausting all reasonable treatment options, Albert chose to receive medical assistance in dying (MAID). He was forthright in his approach to death and was willing to be both overwhelmed and curious simultaneously. He left this life singing a favorite German hymn, with his children and Hamilton Mennonite Church minister Alissa Bender encircling him.
Albert will be remembered by his community far and wide as an avid cyclist, reciter of poetry, storyteller, teacher, bulk cook, generous conversationalist, curious mind, expert watermelon selector, eager host, photographer and archivist, book clubber and linguist, and a kind, memorable stranger.
A virtual memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 5, 2022 at 10am. To receive the Zoom Link for the service, please RSVP at www.erbgood.com or by calling the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, Waterloo at 519-745-8445. Condolences for the family and donations to MCC Ontario (Mennonite Central Committee) may be arranged by contacting the funeral home at www.erbgood.com or 519-745-8445.