Celebration of Life
Beloved wife, mother, aunt and grandmother, Stella Bechthold (Wywka), age 95, passed peacefully to her final rest on January 15, 2020 around noon with her daughter, Lorraine, at her side. She was predeceased by all of her siblings, John, Pauline, Nettie, Martha, Mike and Anne, as well as her son, Lauren, her husband, Delmer and her niece, Briquitta. She is survived by her daughters, Lorraine Hall and Jacqui Jones, by her daughter-in-law, Debbie Bechthold and her granddaughter, Brittany Bechthold.
Stella was born Stephanina (“Stefanka”) Wywka on August 17th, 1924 in a small village in the Ukrainian region of Poland. She was the 3rd child of Jacob and Martha Wywka and immigrated to Canada when she was 4 years old. Stella’s earliest memory was on the ship bound for Canada. Frequently during the day, she took a little blue bucket filled with water and a dipper and went around to the other passengers offering them a drink of water. This act of kindness was a metaphor for her life as her generosity towards others was the hallmark of her personality. (See Facebook page, “A Little Drink of Water”). Whenever she saw others in need, her caring, empathetic nature was to reach out and try to help in whatever way she could. These character traits and her capacity for unconditional love are what people tend to remember most about her.
Stella was good natured, even tempered, trustworthy and dependable with a deep, unshakable love of Jesus. She had an unwavering love for her family, which included all of her extended family. She loved a good laugh and made friends easily with people wherever she lived. The family of her best friend from childhood, Helen Kapiniak, also immigrated to Canada around the same time that her family did and they remained best friends for the remainder of their lives.
Stella grew up in Saskatchewan and often told stories about how cold it was in winter, especially trudging through the snow for several miles as a child to get school. Life was hard for her, especially after her older sister, Martha, married and left home when she was quite young and her older brother, John, died as a result of an ear infection, leaving her as the oldest child at home. She had to help both her father and her mother to run the farm and help raise her four younger siblings, especially after the school burned down when she was in grade six. There were many mornings they would wake up with frost on their covers.
When she was 21, Stella and her sister, Anne, moved to British Columbia where she met Delmer Bechthold whom she married when she was 24. They helped to raise her niece and nephew, Millie and Lenard for 3 years and eventually settled in Vernon, B.C. where they raised their three children, Lauren, Lorraine and Patricia (Jacqui).
Stella worked at a wide variety of jobs to help supplement the expense of putting their children through private Christian schools. For example, she thinned apples, picked fruit and vegetables, worked in a tomato canning factory, cooked for the military cadets that were stationed in Vernon and assisted with Delmer’s cleaning business all while being a homemaker and raising the family. She loved to have family and guests over and often made traditional Ukrainian dishes, like borscht, perogies, cabbage rolls and prune buns. She made plenty of food and constantly insisted that guests “have some more” as she always wanted to ensure they were well fed. That was her giving nature.
When Delmer got a job with Christian Record Braille foundation in 1970, Stella joined him. They bought a camper and traveled around Montana and Tennessee collecting donations and providing services for the blind. Every summer they attended a summer camp for blind children, which was the highlight of the year for them.
At age 50, Stella was diagnosed with colon cancer. Although she had to have surgery, she refused to have chemotherapy or radiation, choosing Leatrile instead. When she had a reoccurrence two years later, she upped the Laetrile, grew and juiced her own barley greens and other vegetables and went on a strict vegan diet which enabled her to beat the cancer for good.
Stella and Delmer retired in Rutland BC where they had many friends and lived for 40 years. However, at the request of their daughter to move closer, in 2004 they moved to Abbotsford, BC where Lorraine was able visit and assist them as they aged. Eventually, Delmer's Alzheimer's became too difficult to manage at home and he was placed in an Extended Care facility where he passed away in January 2010.
For a time, Stella was able to manage alone in her condo in Abbotsford. But in 2013, it became evident that she needed more care and she moved into assisted living at Rosemary Heights Seniors Center in Surrey, close to Lorraine. Later, as her dementia progressed, she moved into their Extended Care side where Lorraine advocated for her and visited her every week 2-3 times. The staff there loved Stella as she was loving and kind to them even though she struggled with abdominal pain daily. At age 95, her heart finally gave out and she is now resting in peace, awaiting the return of her beloved Saviour and Lord so she can be together with all of her loved ones once again, which was always the sustaining hope of her later years. Stella’s unconditional love is deeply missed by her daughters - her memory will always be a guiding light and role model for our lives.