Left-handed pitcher, alto singer, quilter, confidante, heart of her family, woman of faith. Born Sept. 9, 1923, in Rudnerweide, Ukraine. Died Oct. 14, 2011, in Leamington, Ont., after a stroke, aged 88.
Anne Enns Driedger was an infant when her family fled to Canada to escape the turbulent period following the Russian Revolution. One of seven children of Gertrude and Henry Enns, she spent her childhood in Southern Ontario.
Although she had to quit school in Grade 8 to take jobs as a housemaid and at a tobacco factory to help support her family, she was always learning new things. An avid reader and conversationalist, she was hard to beat at Scrabble.
With her trim figure and deep brown eyes, she caught the eye of Cornelius Driedger. The moment he saw her for the first time, he said, “She’s the one for me.” It was raining the Saturday of their wedding in 1942. They arrived at the little house on the farm where they would be sharecropping to find the kitchen flooded. Thankfully the bedroom was dry, but when they set off for church the next morning, they discovered their friends had let the air out of the tires on their Model A Ford as a joke. They made it to church, but walked in noticeably late.
Anne worked energetically alongside her husband and five sons – Robert, John, Paul, David and William – on the vegetable and greenhouse farm they bought near Leamington, Ont., in 1952. She put in full days in the field, then hurried inside to do the cooking, cleaning and laundry. She remained an attractive woman. In photos taken on special occasions, she is wearing fashionable dresses and jewellery and elegant hats, and her hair is perfectly coiffed.
Feeding six men and later five daughters-in-law, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren wasn’t just a duty but an art for Anne. She was famous for her paper-thin pancakes, creamy rice pudding, succulent roast beef and soft zwiebach rolls. Her homemade doughnuts were the stuff of legend.
Anne’s oldest son died of cancer in 1974 and she suffered from severe arthritic pain for most of her adult life, but she accepted these difficulties with stoicism and rarely complained.
Her family loved baseball, and an annual trip across the border to a Detroit Tigers game was a tradition. As Anne lay dying, the Tigers were in the American League finals and the family animatedly discussed their progress at her bedside. It is exactly what she would have expected.
Anne had a green thumb and the flowerbeds around her home were always awash with colour. Each of her grandchildren laid a pink rose – her favourite flower – on her coffin before it was lowered into the ground.
A positive person, Anne never had a critical or angry word for anyone. Her laughter, selfless nature and love of all things beautiful leave a heart-warming legacy.
By MaryLou Driedger, Anne’s daughter-in-law.
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