On Sunday, July 19, 2020 Hans-Juergen passed away peacefully at the age of 89. He was predeceased by his wife Dorothy Katherine (MacGonigal) Kirstein and grandson Rain McGuire. He is survived by his children Katherine (Kirstein) Paradis (Doug) and Tania Kirstein, his special friend Victoria Strang, her children Elizabeth Strang (Jason Kozun) and Kathryn Strang. All his grandchildren include Tristan, Arlon, Amber, Ziya, Bailey and Max.
Hans-Juergen was a survivor, fiercely independent and self-reliant, living a very full, eventful, and long life. Born in Germany, he experienced WW2 as a teenager, the great hardships of the Russian occupation, enduring the depravations of the Russian collective farm and the Siberian Gulag. Because of his language skills (he had learnt Russian quickly), he joined the Red Army to get better food. Speaking Russian and German fluently, he was transferred to East Germany. There, through careful observation of the border guards’ patrol patterns thereby recognizing how the mines were laid, he crossed the border into West Germany without incident. Here his life truly began. At age 21, he emigrated to Canada with $10 in his pocket, working in various coal and gold mines in northern Ontario. Moving to Quebec, he met and married the love of his life, Dorothy MacGonigal, and they eventually adopted their two daughters, Katherine and Tania, adoring them both as they grew up. He rose through the management ranks of the asbestos mining industry, becoming fluent in French. Along the way, he nurtured his sailing skills and then discovered cross-country skiing . When that industry began to falter, he together with his family came to Alberta where he eventually joined the Correctional Services of Alberta initially, and then of Canada. He became the Programs Manager at the Grand Cache medium Correctional Institution where he retired after 15 years of service, much loved by the professional staff who worked for him – the schoolteachers , trades people, the chaplains, and the counselors. He held high ethical standards and was exacting in his demand for quality in both work and play.
Hans-Juergen had many diverse interests including history, botany, geology, music, and, of course, languages. He was passionate about education mainly because of the early disruption and the non-existence of it in those troubled war years. His love of and skill in cross-country skiing is well-known – racing at the Alberta elite Masters level in his 50-60s. He always challenged himself mentally and physically to learn and develop new skills and knowledge, achieving three Bachelor degrees in his retirement and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro when he was 75.
He had a great love of music – it soothed the troubled soul he often said, with J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass and Wagner’s Parsifal being his favorites. He attended many concerts and sang in a number of choirs. He participated in the Concordia Community Chorus under the direction of Dr Joy Berg with great regularity and enthusiasm.
Hans-Juergen had a deep and enduring faith in God the Creator, favouring the Indigenous approach to the Great Spirit and its abiding presence in all things. He loved ‘his’ Cathedral and was an active participant there until his recent illnesses. He always had time and energy for his family and friends. He particularly loved to guide and mentor the grandchildren into new learnings about science, the environment, and, of course, skiing abilities. In time of need, he helped and supported in any way he could. We will miss him dearly. His spirit and memory will live on through all of us and we will always cherish the time we spent together.
The family is sincerely grateful to the staff at the Shepherd’s Care Foundation Mill Woods and the Sturgeon Community Hospital for their care and compassion during his stay with them.
A Funeral Service will be held on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 2:00 pm at All Saints Anglican Cathedral, 10035 103 Street, Edmonton. Those wishing to attend the funeral in person need to register with the Cathedral Office at [email protected] or call 780-428-6323. As per the Alberta Health Guidelines, funeral ceremonies are limited to a maximum of 100 people.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to:
St Faith’s PrayerWork’s Ministry, online https://stfaithsanglican.org/donate or by cheque to St Faith’s with ‘PrayerWorks’ in the memo line; St Faith’s Anglican Church, 11725 93 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, T5G 1E2
Inner City Pastoral Ministry, CanadaHelps.org (search for ICPM) or by mailing a cheque to ICPM c/o Bissell Centre, 10527 96 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, T5H 2H6