Nathalia Lena Hessler (March 11, 1926 – July 12, 2020)

It is with heavy hearts that we sadly announce the passing of our most beloved Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother Nathalia Lena Hessler on Sunday July 12, 2020 at The Grande Prairie Care Center.

Lena was born the youngest of 7 children to Adolph and Adela (Feller) Sauder on March 11, 1926 in Rush Lake Saskatchewan. She moved with her parents at age 15, first to Elscott, AB and then on to Northmark AB., where she helped her parents farm during her teenage years. As the years passed, she was courted by Otto Hessler. They were married on June 25, 1948 after Otto was discharged from the Army and had filed on a homestead in the Josephine Canyon area near Fourth Creek. Their first home was a grainery where keeping mice under control was a challenge. Together, they worked tirelessly clearing the land by hand with axes, walking home from the fields, washing off all the dirt and grime in cold water and falling into bed exhausted. In addition, there was livestock to look after, a garden to tend, wood to be cut and gathered, berries to be picked, canning to be done, plus housework to be completed – all with no modern conveniences. In spite of these challenges, Lena said that they were so fortunate to get the land that they did, because it was in a beautiful area in the countryside and the soil was very good for farming. They spent 50 years farming there before retiring to Spirit River in 1996, after turning the farm over to Son’s Marvin and Rick. They were happily married for 70 years prior to Otto’s passing in 2018 and truly blessed to have full mental faculties to the end.

In 1950 they began their family with Son Gary, 1952 Son Richard, 1954 Daughter Christine, 1956 Daughter Kathryn, 1962 Son Marvin. They purchased an acreage south of Spirit River in 1957 and moved there so the kids could attend school as there was no school in Fourth Creek at the time. In the spring and fall Otto went to the farm to seed and harvest and Lena stayed with the kids on the acreage. Once the children were old enough to stay by themselves, Lena joined Otto on the farm for seeding and harvesting. In 1970 the acreage was sold and they moved back to the farm until they retired.

Lena enjoyed cooking and baking – her homemade noodles, in chicken noodle soup, pork and moose sausage, cinnamon buns and pineapple cream pie were family favorites. She also liked to sew, do embroidery, and to play card games – there were a lot of intense card games with family and friends as the children were growing up. She and Otto were also devout Christians and supportive and involved with their church until age and health issues prevented them from attending. Lena also took great pride in her yard and flowers and said that working in her flower gardens was not work to her but that it was relaxing.

While working alongside Otto and Son Rick, she learned how to back up the grain truck to the auger for unloading grain, which in her words came in very handy when she had to try to maneuver her wheelchair into the sometimes tight spot at the dining room table at The Care Center. She said that learning that skill on the farm, served her well at The Care Center.

In recent conversations with her, we thanked her for being the most loving Mother any child could ask for and she replied – I tried my best even though Dad & I could not buy you kids everything you may have wanted, we could and did give all of you a home full of love – we had lots of that to give you.

We know that when you went to meet Dad, he would have been smiling from ear to ear and would have had that twinkle in his eyes when took your hand. We can picture the two of you walking hand in hand through the flower gardens in Heaven and Dad picking some for you as he used to do out on the farm when he would come from the pasture with a big bunch of wild flowers. How very beautiful and fragrant the garden must be there.

Lena leaves to mourn her passing, Gary (Marlaine), Richard (Cheryl), Christine (Robert) Stalker, Kathryn, Marvin (Darlene), 9 Grandchildren, 25 Great Grandchildren.

Lena was predeceased by her parents Adolph and Adela Sauder, Husband Otto, sisters Katherine, Rose, Martha, Emma, brothers Emil and George and Grandson Michael Eagar.

Care entrusted to Bear Creek Funeral Home: