June 2, 1932 – March 10, 2013
Less than one year ago Sofia was delighted to turn 80 years old, celebrating an amazing milestone with family and friends. When she was almost 62 Sofie had suffered a serious heart attack that resulted in early retirement from her kitchen staff job at BVD Hospital and having open heart surgery. She lived the rest of her life with several health complications but with much contentment and a loving heart that was so characteristic of this special lady.
Sofia began her life the fifth of eight children born to Anton and Catharina Konst in Oosterblokker, NH, Netherlands. Her father had a carpentry business and her mother ran a grocery store out of the front of the family home. After graduating Grade 7, Sofie went to homemakers school for two years where she gained wonderful skills that she used so well through the rest of her life. She lived much of her childhood during the occupation of Holland, a time when her father was heavily involved in the Dutch Resistance; her mother died after a prolonged illness in 1949 before Sofie turned 17. The family immigrated to Canada four years later, arriving by ship in Halifax and then travelling by train across the land.
They arrived in Smithers on March 10, 1953 (amazingly, 60 years later to the day, she completed her final journey to her eternal home). One month later Sofia married her sweetheart, Nicholaas DeWit, in a triple marriage which included her sister, Alice, and older brother, John. The DeWit family grew quickly, as on the day of Sofia and Nick’s fourth wedding anniversary they welcomed their third son, Nick Jr, little brother to Tony and Johnny, who were two and three years old. During these years Nick worked in sawmill bush camps, and Sofie loved the rustic life, enjoying the camaraderie with other wives who became her lifelong friends.
A home was built in Smithers, and two more children completed the family, Peter in 1963 and Lynda in 1968. To supplement the family income, Sofia did janitorial work and housekeeping. There was a move to Houston for several years where Nick worked at a mill and she chambermaided at the Pleasant Valley Motel, at one time taking over the managerial position while the owners went on vacation. In 1974, however, Nick was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Much later Sofie told Peter that when she received the news of his father’s illness, she went into her bedroom and let out a deep horrible scream, when that was over, she kneeled and asked Jesus for his help. The family moved back to Smithers to be close to the support and care of relatives.
Sofia got on at BVD Hospital where she worked for 20 years while caring for her husband and family, and becoming a happily devoted grandmother (Oma). She was known for her prolific knitting and crocheting that kept all the family warm with sweaters, toques, mitts, and afghans, as well, she did fine handwork including embroidery, needlepoint and lace doilies. Eventually Nick had to be hospitalized and later he was a resident at the Bulkley Lodge. The dedication and care that Sofie showed through all those years until his death in 2001 was a beautiful testament to our family and the community of unselfish commitment and love.
Sofie leaves her five children, each one so dear to her, and their families, including 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren; sisters Agnes Derksen and Tina Konst; brother Jos Konst and sister-in-law, Vera; and many nieces and nephews. She loved us all so well!
Goodbye Mom, Oma, Sister, Auntie, Friend . . . until we meet again, we’ll miss you!