Helena Schlief (Knells)

25/06/1933 - 01/11/2021


Obituary For Helena Schlief (Knells)

June 25, 1933 – November 1, 2021

Helene Schlief is at peace now. She passed away in her sleep in the early morning of Nov. 1, 2021, at the age of 88.

She was born Helene Knells, in the small city in Gutersloh in West Germany. She met and fell in love with a handsome young man from East Germany that her brother brought home for her to meet. Fritz had a dream to immigrate to Canada and own a farm. Helene courageously agreed to go with this ambitious young man of 25. She was 21 when they set out by ship in 1954 on the great adventure, arriving in Edmonton with $50, not speaking English.

Helene got the first job, washing dishes and Fritz, a bricklayer, found a job in construction. He quickly learned the new trade of drywall, and four years later Fritz persuaded her to move to the “Next Year Country.” He started his own drywall company. The highway was gravel at the time and the population of GP only 5000. It was daunting to keep up with Fritz’s ambitions. They took homestead land in 1964 and Fritz had to clear a hundred acres to earn the title. The first summers Helene would walk in the mile and half with the children, and they would all camp out in a skid shack. They moved out to the homestead in 1970, and Helene rose to the challenge of becoming a farmwife for the first time in her life; complete with learning to milk goats, raise sheep, making cheese, grinding wheat and keeping bees.

Helene's life passions included gardening, children, reading, travel, and textiles. As a teenager Helene had apprenticed and became a weaver. She loved to knit, and on the farm, she enthusiastically learned to card, spin and dye wool. Helene has knitted scarves and hats for many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren over the years. She also touched the lives of the young children she provided childcare for.

Helene read widely and was intellectually curious about many things. Up until recently she regularly listened to the Ideas program on the CBC and kept up with world news on German media. A member of the Seniors club in Grovedale, Grande Prairie German Canadian Society, she also enjoyed travelling to visit friends and relatives far and wide. She moved to the Wildrose Manor with Fritz 11 years ago when Fritz became ill and needed extra care. Helene loved her plants, especially her flowers and houseplants right to the end. She also helped tend the many plants at Wildrose and enjoyed socializing with the new friends she made there. Helene often spent summers and weekends on the farm with her family. Helene was known throughout her life for her hospitality and caring ways. Helene was loved by many and will be missed by many.

She is survived by her children Manuela Campbell, Marietta Stephen, Christine Schlief and Thilo Schlief, grandchildren Jody Stephen, Stefanie Stephen, Katy Campbell, Alexandra Sharma, Peter Schlief, Eric Schlief and Jesse Campbell and her 8 great grandchildren. She also leaves behind her brother Reinhard Knells in Germany.

Helene will be joining those that went before her, Husband Fritz Schlief and her brothers John Knells, Rudy Knells, Helmut Knells and many other family and friends that she missed.

The family is planning a gathering in the late spring of 2022.

Care entrusted to Bear Creek Funeral Home 780-830-7742

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  • Just to say I'm sorry to find that your mother has passed away. It is a loving reminder of what our parents sacrificed to make a life in Canada.

  • Condolences and heartfelt sympathy to Marietta, Christine and the others, in the loss of your mother. I don't know that I ever met your mama, however I do know what it's like to loss one's mama. We will always miss our mamas. I pray for all of you, that you will experience His comfort, now and in the time to come. ....hugs

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