NICKEL – Justine (Goetz) Nickel of the Newbrook Lodge in Brooks, Alberta passed away peacefully on October 1, 2017 at age of 91 years. She was born December 4, 1925 in Friedensdorf, South Ukraine to parents Nickolai and Justina (Harder) Goetz. Justine was the middle of three children with an older sister Margareta and younger brother Heinrich.
At the age of 10 years, her mother passed away from tuberculosis and her father was sent to the labour camps in North Russia (Siberia) where he spent the next ten years. She was taken in by her father’s youngest sister. She attended school in Friedensdorf and Gnadenheim, South Ukraine. In the summer of 1943, Justine accepted Jesus as her Saviour and was baptized. In September she, along with her sister and aunt, left Freidensdorf for Germany via the Big Trek. They arrived in December. There were 350 000 Germans on that trek, which included 35,000 Mennonites. Justine worked as a common labourer until the fall of 1944, when the Red Cross appealed to young women to take a first aid course. Thus began her career as a nurse. Most of Justine’s patients were women and children from bomb attacks. “I have no words to describe the suffering of those innocent people.” In order to come to Canada, it was necessary to be sponsored by a Canadian citizen. For Justine, that was her cousin Agatha and Dietrich Dyck. Her sister remained in Germany. Justine landed in Halifax by boat on June 4. 1948. Through the Red Cross and Mennonite Central Committee (MCC}, she was able to reach her destination in Brooks, Alberta. She struggled with loneliness, homesickness, and the English language. She worked as a nurse, first in Coaldale hospital for a year and then in Bassano for four years. In 1952, Justine met and later married John Nickel from Rosemary on May 31, 1953. She became a farmer’s wife and later a mother to Alvin, Verna, and Ben. Her time was spent raising children, gardening, and tending flowers. Justine and John stayed on the farm until 1997, when they retired to the Village of Rosemary. In March 2007, John passed away. In October 2007, she moved into the Villa in Rosemary and later to the Newbrook Lodge in February 2013 until her passing. Justine is survived by her children: son Alvin (Fern) and their daughters [Ashley (Kevin) Dyck and their children Elijah, Avery, and Nina; Heather (Jason) Stangler and their children, Hudson and Harper; Rachel (James Kaufmann) Nickel and his son Logan; and Jessamy Nickel]; daughter Verna (Ernie) Plett and their son Dawson; and son Ben (Laurel) Nickel and their daughters [Caitlyn (Keith) Autio and their sons Ethan and Connor; and Braylee (Anthony) Lai]. She was predeceased by Ben and Laurel’s son Colton in December 2005 and her husband John in March 2007. A funeral service was held in Rosemary Mennonite Church on Thursday, October 5, 2017. If friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to Stansberry Children’s Home (Box 182, Duchess Alberta TOJ OZO). For further information, to share a photo, condolence, memory or to light a candle in memory of Justine, please visit www.thomsfuneralhome.com or call (403) 501-1010.