PIERA, Tietje

February 26, 1928 – December 28, 2017

Born – Cornjum, Friesland, Netherlands
Passed – Calgary, Alberta

Tietje de Boer was born in Cornjum, Friesland in the Netherlands at her parent’s dairy farm and dramatic events during her childhood shaped who she would become. As soon as she entered grade school, she was advanced to the second grade and while she was in her academic peer group, she was considerably less mature and found it difficult to make friends. Through this she developed a great sense of empathy for people that were marginalized. When she was still in grade school, her younger brother was tragically killed after getting off the school bus and this caused her mother to fall into a deep depression. Tietje had to learn to be self-sufficient and a self-starter. At the same time, the country was in an economic depression and there were shortages of food and other household items. Like many others from her generation, she learned to be frugal and not to waste resources.

WW2 broke out when Tietje was 11 and lasted until she was 17 years of age. The family was forced to billet a German soldier while the Netherlands was occupied by Germany. Her father sternly warned her to be careful about what she said because any wrong word from her was very risky for the entire family and from this she learned to think before she spoke.

Her faith was an important aspect of life and her parents were members of Reformed Church in Stiens. After completing high school at the age of sixteen, she felt called to the ministry and wanted to study theology but was discouraged to do so by her father and church leaders. In her late teens and early 20’s, she attended the Mennonite church in Leeuwarden where she was baptized and became member. When she immigrated to Calgary, she briefly attended First Mennonite but after she married Herman Piera they switched to St. David’s United Church from about 1959-1973 and Knox United Church from about 1973-1979. While at St. David’s, she was an active member of the Dorcus Group, a chapter of United Church Women. Later, she attended Foothills Mennonite  until the early 2000’s where she actively participated in Sunday School discussions and the “UBJ” senior’s group.

Following high school, she trained in Rotterdam (K&O) to become a teacher of the Montessori Teaching Method. While she never taught in a Montessori school, she incorporated that style of learning into her parenting philosophy. She also took some pharmaceutical courses in Groningen and a secretarial course in Leeuwarden while she continued to help on the farm.

In 1953, she immigrated to Canada via a berth on the Groote Beer arriving at Pier 21 in Halifax. Connecting to the Canadian Pacific passenger train, she travelled across Canada to start her new job as a secretary for the Netherlands Investment Company in Calgary. There, she met and fell in love with Herman Piera, the Farm Inspector and agriculturalist for the Netherlands Investment Company. In 1955, they married at the United Church in Champion Alberta. Their first home together was a modest two bedroom house with a hand pump for water and an outhouse on six acres in what is now the center of Silver Springs. Beside the house was a chicken coop built out of an abandoned train caboose relocated to the property which was a sight to see. In 1961, they built a home on one acre facing the 1A Highway in what is now Dalhousie. In 1973 when the city expanded around them, they wanted to move further away from the city and built their current home in Bearspaw.

For the next 60 years, her life centered on her role as wife, Mom, Oma, and great Oma. Family life revolved around meals and every evening we sat at the dinner table discussing the days events. Dinners were hearty Dutch foods like boer kool with sausage, pea soup, beet salad, kroketten, and occasionally Indonesian food like kroepoek, nasi goreng and rijsttafel. Desert was always fruit like an orange, apple or banana, occasionally yogurt and on birthdays ice cream! Lunch was sandwiches of meats, fish, cheese, and other goodies such as chocoladehagel (chocolate chips), vruchtenhagel (fruit chips), pindakaas (peanut butter) and occasionally smoked eel. She taught that a tomato could eaten like an apple and rokt herring is best eaten raw. We estimate that Tietje packed over 10,000 sandwiches for her children who always took the bus to school.

Even though she was busy raising four biological children plus two foster children, she finally got the chance to study her passions of history and theology by attending the University of Calgary where she graduated with a BA in 1973. She made several lifelong friends, not only with fellow students but also with professors! She joined the University of Calgary Women’s Club and remained a member until 2016.

After her husband passed away in 1986 and her children moved away, she kept herself busy with her own ministry of visiting friends and acquaintances who were isolated in their homes, in the hospital or senior homes.  She swam in the morning deep water exercise class at the Sir Winston Churchill Swimming Pool 3-5 days a week.  She did a tremendous amount of genealogical research at the Calgary Family History Centre and often volunteered to help others research their family history. But what’s most precious to her was spending time with her grandchildren. She would bring them to the zoo and Heritage Park, attend their school concerts and spend time with them after school. She also hosted family dinner every Sunday at her house after which the grandchildren explored the property climbing trees, picking berries or watching moose and deer.

She enjoyed the fellowship of the Dutch Canadian Club (Seniors Club and Bridge Club), University Women’s Club, Foothills Mennonite Church Seniors Club and especially the Alberta Women’s Institute- Bearspaw/Glendale Club. Even though she lived on an acreage, she found it easy to relate to the farm women in the Women’s Institute because of her childhood experience on her parents dairy farm. She faithfully attended local meetings, district, national and even international conferences. She considered it an effective method to support women, families and communities.

She passed away peacefully on Dec 28, 2017 at her home surrounded by family.  We will miss her smile, her humor, her insights, her inspiration, her generosity of spirit and most importantly her genuine love to us all. We would like to thank the Cochrane Community Health Centre, Karen and her team, for their generous and caring support.  We especially want to acknowledge the love that David showed mom looking after her day and night to ensure she could remain at her own home in her final years.

Tietje Piera is survived by her children David Piera, Ykje Piera, Jentje John Piera (Iris), Jacob Johannes Piera (Christine), her grandchildren Tietje White, Adriana Herbert (Kelly), Jakob Otto Hagglund, Johan Herman Piera, Heywood Mok, Sammy Hau Piera (Megan), Wesley David Piera, Herman Piera and Mulan Piera, her great grandchildren Ykje Kirkpatrick, Fern Kirkpatrick, Rowan Kirkpatrick, Sandy Kirkpatrick, Kelly Jr. Herbert, Percy Herbert and Lieneke Herbert. She is also survived by her brother Johannes Deboer (Tjallie) and her nephews Jentje de Boer (Werdine), Theunis de Boer (Netty) and Rienk (Anneke) Piera, niece Titia Jippes (Pier) and numerous relatives in the Netherlands. She was predeceased by her husband Herman Piera, his parents David Piera and Wilhelmina Carolina Ypes, her parents Jentje de Boer and Ykje Talsma, her brothers Johannes and Jan Deboer. `


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  1. On January 2, 2018 at 11:13 am David Chalack Said:

    John wow I found this so interesting and what an impact your mom had–I am printing this off so I can show my wife Joanne who is Dutch and remembers her dad telling stories of the German occupation in Holland as well and thier storeis as they moved ot Canada with nothing. Condolensces

  2. On January 2, 2018 at 3:33 pm Reinhold Pauls Said:

    Dear John and Iris and family, I am sorry to hear of the passing of your mom and Oma. I am glad that she could pass peacefully at home, which was her hearts desire. Reading her obituary, she was an incredible woman and you can be very proud of her. I wish I could be there for the memorial service but unfortunately that is not possible. I will remember you and the extended family in my prayers and thoughts especially on Thursday Jan 4. Make sure to tell her stories to family and friends so they are not forgotten or lost. My deepest condolences to you and the extended family. Best wishes from Reinhold Pauls ( your Bible School friend from Columbia Bible Institute 1979, 1980 ) and friends ever since.

  3. On January 3, 2018 at 3:57 pm Dennis Heacock Said:

    John and Iris,
    I am sorry to hear of the passing of your Mom and send my most sincere condolences. I wish I could be there for the memorial but I have other engagements that day.
    Dennis and Marlene

  4. On January 4, 2018 at 5:58 am Doug and Margo Said:

    Dear David, Ykje, John and Jacob,

    So sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Many fond memories of childhood visits to your house, her visits and support for my Mom in her later years, and the annual call for a bucket or two of honey!

    Doug and Margo

  5. On January 4, 2018 at 8:27 am Tala Bateman Said:

    Hi Ykje,

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Thinking of you during this difficult time.


  6. On January 4, 2018 at 10:22 am Patricia Cyca Said:

    I met Tietje several years ago as we were both members of CFUW Calgary (Canadian Federation of University Women Calgary). Tietje was a stalwart advocate for education. Was not shy to share her views. Was most generous of her time and spirit. Often drove other members (who no longer could do so) to CFUW Calgary events and made it seem effortless. Conversations with Tieje were always stimulating and lively as she presented interesting and wise perspectives. Her obituary certainly captured Tieje’s life story. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  7. On January 11, 2018 at 10:23 pm Ykje Said:

    I met Tietje Piera fifty nine years ago.

    I didn’t much like her when I was a teenager, but I loved her as a daughter.
    I’m wondering why the funeral home is deleting remembrances from family.

  8. On January 12, 2018 at 10:39 am james bell Said:

    I don’t know what to say. I hope all is well. It has been a long year for our family. I am sure your mom was at peace, she had a remarkable life. Thank you for letting me a part of your family’s life all these years I miss you very much.

  9. On January 12, 2018 at 11:37 am Coral Bell Said:

    Dear Ykje
    Sorry for you loss, your Mother had an amazing life. Thinking of you during this difficult time. Coral

  10. On March 27, 2018 at 5:16 pm Lawson Brown Said:

    Wow John! Your mother was amazing! She and her generation have laid a solid foundation for our country – and we stand on their shoulders so very blessed.

    As i read the obit, two words came to mind: Courage and Servant.

    I see some of your mother’s heart in you, John. Also, something of her facial expression :o))

    We lost our moms within less than 2 months of each other…..