Tribute to Mary Dyck Fransen

(b. February 28. 1924, d. October 18, 2010)

It was the fall of 1965. Aldred and I had recently moved to Regina, Saskatchewan and were attending a Symphony concert where we met Mary and Jake Fransen. We’d heard about these Toronto people who had moved to Regina. Mary, with her blonde hair, nice clothes and jewelry, looked every bit the sophisticated city person; but, at the same time, her warm and friendly manner put everyone at ease. I was completely smitten.

Over the years a strong friendship developed even though we lived many miles apart for most of our lives. Only 14 years out of 45 did we live in the same general area – in Regina less than 2 years, and in Toronto about 12 (during these 12 years Mary and Jake moved to St. Catherines and back in between – they liked to move). At other times, eagerly anticipated occasional visits took place – in Florida, St. Catherines, Calgary and Fresno. Hand-written letters, cards, phone calls and, more recently, e-mail connected the dots of our long distance friendship in between.

To visit with Mary and Jake was always a joy – both of them invariably seeing the positive in almost any situation. We especially prized our relationship during the Toronto years. Our children, then in elementary school, recall Mary and Jake as their local grandparents – a relationship that, for us, was a Godsend.

Quinton, Tobi, Tim and Reina were crazy for Mary’s lemon meringue pie and she would bake one for them whenever she could. One time she came to our place in Richmond Hill for a day to stay with the children. Her plan was to make a pie. On checking our pantry she discovered we didn’t have the ingredients needed. So she walked a good 15 minutes to the nearest corner store, bought what was needed, walked 15 minutes back, and still had time to make the pie. Her energy and dedication to making sure our children would have this baking delight impressed us then, as it did many other times.

Another favorite food item were zweibach (little buns). Whenever Mary’s zweibach appeared at a church meal you could see the hands, small, medium and large, reaching over to pick up one of these buns. Often she would bring a package of these delicious buns to others as a way of providing support and encouragement.

As you know, Mary’s mission in life was to bring joy to others. Hosting people at home was just one of many ways she did this. She always saw people in their best light, giving praise whenever she could, and thereby encouraging them to live up to their potential. And, she loved to laugh. In our visits we would share stories with each other, and break into joyous laughter together, with our visits as much about laughing and enjoying each other’s company as it was about what we talked. There are so many memories from these conversations – of her love for her children and grandchildren, of the Vineland area, of her sisters and brothers, of the routines of daily living, of walks down the beach or in shopping mall, and on and on. Mary, we loved you from when we first met, and continue to love you still.

A donation in memory of Mary has been made to the Pennies & Prayer Legacy Fund.

Erna and Aldred Neufeldt
29 October 2010