Hella Harder was born October 6, 1926 and raised on a farm east of Didsbury, part of the old Burns Ranch, where her young parents had arrived as refugees from southern Russia, carrying with them the traumatic experiences of civil war. She died in hospital on May 31, 2020 in Edmonton, where she had lived most of her adult life.
Left to cherish her memory are two daughters, Leila (Charles) and Rhonda (Roger); four grandchildren, Megen, Bryn (Morgen), Stefan (Laurel), and Elise; two great-grandchildren, Mateus and Talia; brother, Ralph (Rita); and a sister, Hedy. She was predeceased by Jacob, her husband of 70 years, whom she missed deeply in the final months of her life; an infant daughter; and two sisters, Elsie and Susan.
Hella was not a public person. In the words of the 19th-century novel, Middlemarch, she “lived faithfully a hidden life” – one marked by the kinds of “unhistoric acts” on which, paradoxically, the “growing good of the world” depends. She was a loyal friend. She invited many people, young and old, to a dinner table set with an elegance that honored her guests. With her skilled hands, she was asked to sew dresses for special occasions – graduations, weddings – and later made intricate, string-embroidered cards to send out. In retirement, she and Jacob built a house together, travelled, learned to dance, faced the challenges of aging, and, above all, demonstrated an enduring love for each other.
The family is grateful for the care and kindness shown by staff at Riverbend Lifestyles Options and Grey Nuns Hospital.
A virtual memorial service will be held on June 20. Please contact First Mennonite Church or the family for details.
Donations in memory of Hella Harder may be made to Mennonite Central Committee (Alberta) at 210, 2946 – 32 St NE, Calgary AB, T1Y 6J7, or https://donate.mcccanada.ca/.