A Memorial for My Wife Ingrid

May 17, 1929 - April 7, 2008

Ingrid was born in Königsberg, Germany, to Margarete and Karl Fuchs. On January 18, 1960, she married George Mander in Frankfurt, Germany, and subsequently immigrated to Vancouver, Canada in June of 1960. In July of 1960, Ingrid and George moved to Castlegar, B.C., and lived there until May 1961, when they returned to Vancouver once more. In September of 1965, Ingrid and George had their first and only child, a son, Michael. In May of 1966, Ingrid, George and their son moved to Coquitlam, B.C., and there she spent the next 42 years with her husband George, until her death in 2008.

She is survived by her husband George, her son Michael and her sister Elisabeth Robson. May she rest in peace...


Michael's Memorial Page

Here is a link to my son Michael's memorial page for Ingrid. His eulogy is there and a small collection of photos that were displayed on the memorial table. There are also some photos he took at the church on the day of the service.

There are several items I would like to share with you here. First is the eulogy which I spoke at my wife's memorial service, second is the story of How I Met Ingrid, and finally there is an email from Chava Landau, Ingrid's best friend from before we met.

Eulogy for Ingrid

Speaking here today, I’d like to try and share some fond memories and relate how, in many ways, Ingrid had such a positive impact on my life.

What do I miss most about her? Everything, of course... even both of us falling asleep while watching TV together!  And of course, I will miss all of the good times we had, in the almost 50 years that we knew each other.

I will never get over that Ingrid’s fight with cancer is now over, and that we won’t see her again. It will take a long time to heal, even though we ALL knew for over 7 years, that one day we would loose her to this horrible illness. She has been a real fighter and my next door neighbor always said: "She must be a tough woman" - and she sure was!

Way back on her 2002 Valentines Day card to me, she wrote : “I hope I can make another Valentines Day”.  She had such immense energy, and such a strong will to live, that we had six more Valentines together after.

Also, Ingrid’s sister, Michael and I, cannot get over the fact that we were not able to give a final “thank you” for all the things in life she gave and shared with us. In the last few weeks at the care home, the 3 of us tried to talk to her and say some of the important things on our minds, but she always said “Not now, I am so tired please let me rest.”, and then she closed her eyes and slept.

I would say the one accomplishment, of which she was most proud, was bringing up our son Michael to be a decent and talented person who never took drugs, never drank, never smoked and never really gave us any problems as a teenager.

One thing I really have to thank Ingrid for, which led to some of the more memorable moments in my life, was her suggestion to add the word “Canadian” to the name of my first rose. With her encouragement, I registered it in 1980 after 11 years of hybridizing as a hobby.  As many of you know, I started hybridizing roses in 1969.  At first, I wanted to just name this rose “White Star”, but Ingrid was proud to be Canadian, so we changed it to ‘Canadian White Star’ and it was then internationally registered.

Twenty years later, in 2000, Canada Post chose ‘Canadian White Star’ to be one of four Canadian-bred roses to be on a special-edition postage stamp series and, to top it all off, in 2003 at the Stamp World Cup in Paris, the ‘Canadian White Star’ postage stamp won the award for “The most beautiful stamp in the Americas” and also placed third overall in the “Worlds Most Beautiful Stamp” competition.  If it were not for Ingrid’s idea for the rose’s name, none of that might have happened! So, thank you Ingrid, for your suggestion!

I have had much success with many more roses since Canadian White Star, and although Ingrid often felt that I spent too much time in the garden, many subsequent roses of mine were named with Ingrid’s suggestions, input and often, her encouragement.

Ingrid had so many interests and unique qualities. After coming to Canada in 1960 we built our own furniture. She did most of the designs, I did all the wood-work and Ingrid did the final sanding and finishing. Most who’ve seen our furniture are impressed with its design and elegance. Not only furniture, but believe it or not, she once also helped me rebuild the car engine of our first car, a 1947 Pontiac.

In 1962 we started going on rock-hunting trips and Ingrid made dozens of cabochons, but she thought the ready made settings for the stones were too mediocre looking, so Ingrid took up lessons in Silversmithing. She then designed and crafted some beautiful jewelry for everyone in the family here, as well as back in Germany. We also went rock-hunting for sapphires in Montana, digging for dinosaur bones in Alberta and much more.

Ingrid had so many other talents as well...

She took up art again, in the form of figure drawing, Chinese brush-painting and batik. (She had spent several years in art school in East Germany, before coming to Canada)

In the late seventies she was a freelance writer for a German newspaper reporting about events in Vancouver as well as doing volunteer work translating historical documents from German to English.

Ingrid loved to travel: in 40 years we never missed one year going on trips, 5 times to Germany, 3 trips to Hawaii, northern B.C., Alberta... as well as traveling all over the western United States, all the way down to the Mexican border. The last trip we went on was in 1999, to Oregon, mainly for bird watching. Ingrid was always so enthusiastic about landscapes, wildlife, wild-flowers and everything else in nature. She also liked birds... especially birds: she loved watching the antics of little songbirds, humming birds and many others. We had numerous bird feeders in our back-yard which were always kept stocked up with seeds.

The many thousands of photographs Ingrid and I took on our yearly travels must have rubbed off on our son Michael, who has developed a great talent as a photographer, also with thousands of photos of his own, on his website - sublimephoto.com.

There is a story I want to tell, starting with our 25th Wedding Anniversary in 1985, when we took our first trip to Hawaii. Ingrid loved Hawaii, the tropical flowers and exotic trees, the scenery, the amazing volcanic eruptions and the many bird watching parks. We both liked it so much, that went back in 1986 and 1988.

In 1986, on one of our excursions driving south down the Kona coast, Ingrid showed me the map and said, “Why don’t we try to go, where some tourists might never go.” There was a little fishing village called Milolii, way down a 5 mile winding gravel road over old lava flows right at the ocean. It was the first of May and when we got there, the whole village, with about 200 native fishermen and families, were having May-Day celebrations. They were all wondering how we came down so far off the tourist track, but we were invited to stay for the barbecue. When it was all finished, one of the families invited us to their home. We stayed for a while, but then said we had to keep going south and said that we may come and visit again in the future.

Then in 1988, on our third trip to Hawaii, we visited them again and became good friends. Ingrid took pictures of the three children they had at the time - she took a photo of the 3 year old girl on a tricycle, and a photo of the 2 boys, one 5, and the other 6 years old. I brought those photos with me today and you can see them on the memorial table downstairs in the lower hall later. Ingrid cherished those photos right until the end.

Ingrid wrote down the birthdays of all three children and every year, from 1988 until about 2002, Ingrid sent presents for them on their birthdays and also for Christmas too. She took a lot of time and care choosing nice gifts for them and the children were always so excited when a package arrived from Canada!

So you can see, Ingrid had a very big heart, always caring and giving so much to others!

The mother of these three children is arranging an “all Hawaiian” Memorial Service in a little church in Milolii, before we spread Ingrid’s ashes at her chosen place.

So now we come to the “bad news”, the time when suddenly Ingrid could no longer travel. After all those many years of traveling, suddenly in 2000 she did not feel up to going thousands of kilometres by car anymore. Then just 6 months later, we found out why she felt that way: she was diagnosed with bone cancer.

For 7 long years, there were hundreds of trips to see doctors, get blood tests, visit the cancer clinic and more... but no more holidays, no more travel. In mid-2007, the doctors decided that there were no more chemo treatments that could extend her life any further and from there it was a slow decline.

On October 27th of last year, she was hospitalized, and in early December she was placed in a nursing home until she passed away on the 7th of April, 2008. Ingrid’s sister, my son Michael and I, spent a lot of time with her during those last few months, and we were fortunate to be with her during her final moments.

To honour Ingrid, I let her choose a rose in 2005, still unnamed and one of a dozen or so candidates, which I then registered in her name: ‘Ingrid’. You may have seen some photos of this wonderful rose on the guest-book table out front when you came in. I have a copy of the Ingrid Rose Story for you to take, if you are interested, later at the reception in the lower hall.

Ingrid, your first wish, when you came out of the doctors office in March 2001 and said “I have cancer”, was that you wanted your ashes scattered off the Kona coast of Hawaii. In June, we will honour that request, as I pledged to do that very day. We are also taking several “Ingrid” rose bushes to Hawaii and planting them on our friend’s property as well.

Good-bye dear Ingrid. I will always remember the good times we had and will always love you.

The Story of How I met Ingrid...

I immigrated to Canada in 1956. In November 1958, I went back home to Germany, to visit my parents and relatives. At the end of January 1959, I went to Frankfurt at the beginning of the Carnival season, and on February 7th, I went to one of the largest Carnival Masquerade dances in town. I went alone, but as it turned out, it did not take long for me to find some company. I went upstairs to the gallery so I could look down at all the tables. When the next dance began I saw a girl with black hair, my favourite colour, at one of the tables, so I rushed down to ask her for a dance.

After four dances I invited her to the bar for a drink. We started to talk, but so far, I had not told her that I am visiting from Canada. I noticed that she wore a bracelet with about a dozen Canadian pennies mounted between two wrist bands. When I asked where she got it from, she said “From a friend who bought it in the U.S.” I still did not tell her I was from Canada, but when I pulled out my wallet to pay for the drinks, it had “CANADA” written in large white letters across it. When she saw that, she wanted to know where I got it from?!

So now I could not keep it a secret any longer, and then finally told her my name and she gave me hers. We then had a lot to talk about. One thing we both had in common was jazz music. We stayed together all night and never parted until daylight, when I walked her home. I invited her for another carnival dance 2 days later which she accepted. She told me about an American Jazz club called “Storyville”. You can still find Storyville clubs in New Orleans, New York and other cities. Even in Poland and the Netherlands for that matter.

I invited her again for the third time to go to out. Our first dance was Blueberry Hill by Louis Armstrong with very romantic lyrics which I will never forget. Again, we danced until early morning and this time she walked me to the railway station to get back home to my parents, who were waiting for me. We parted with just a kiss & a hug and I said, “I may see you again some day, and I will write to you from Canada.” I never even gave her my Canadian address or my parent’s home address.
When I arrived at the train station at my parent’s town, I noticed a big sign: “Special train to the Frankfurt exhibition” just 10 days later. Right then and there, I decided to go back to Frankfurt and surprise her with a visit. I wrote her a post card-right away, telling her how much I enjoyed our time together, but I never mentioned that I had already planned to see her again. For some reason, I had forgotten to put a return address on the post-card but within 3 to 4 days I received a postcard back from her - it arrived with an incomplete address and without any street or number.

For an address, she had just written: George Mander, by Gärtner Mander im Natur-Park Kassel Wilhelmshöhe or, trnaslated in English, George Mander, care-of Gardener Mander of the Kassel Wilhelmhöhe Nature Park.

When my dad brought the card home from work, I was really surprised. She wrote: (translated) “How can you! How can you send me a card without a return address!? I would have sent you a letter now, but now I don’t even know if you will receive this card!”

Okay, so now it was HIGH TIME for me to let her know that I would see her again before leaving for Canada, so I phoned her right away and told her my plans.

When we met again, 10 days later, I stayed in Frankfurt for a total of seven weeks. We had a wonderful time and visited many of her friends, her brother, plus went on some short trips with her brothers car. My poor parents were so disappointed, seeing so little of me!

When I finally left Frankfurt in April 1959, we had never ever talked about marriage and/or getting together in Canada. Once again, I thought that this was the end of our relationship, but as it turned out, it was not!

During all of 1959 we wrote many letters back and forth and I still did not ask for her hand. In November I had another one of my crazy ideas: The airlines called it “Fly now, pay later” and I decided that I wanted to ask her in person if she would marry me and come to Canada.
First I asked her if she was staying in Frankfurt over the holidays, and then I decided again to surprise her and not telling her I would be coming to Germany! All I wrote to her was, “I will be away for Christmas, traveling south to Seattle and then changing direction. You see, I could not get a direct flight from Vancouver any more. Then, for the next two sentences, I wrote only the first letter of each word, but she figured it out in no time and then was looking forward to my visit.

I arrived on Dec 19th and the next day I proposed finally, and we drove to my parents place 180 km north. She had just 2 hours to say yes or no! As it was “YES” we went right back to Frankfurt after Christmas and by New Year’s Eve our wedding day was planned for January the 18th, 1960. I had to leave for Canada again on February 3rd as my time off from work was over. Ingrid joined me in Canada in June of 1960 and the rest is, well, history.                                
I wanted to mention one more wish that Ingrid had, after she was diagnosed with cancer. She wanted to write down her life story for Michael, from her first childhood memories to the present day. She wanted to use her electric typewriter, but always used more correction tapes then regular ribbons! Although she hated computers, we talked her into a laptop computer and within a few weeks she started writing during every spare minute she had. By the fall of 2003 she wrote about 250 pages up to the year 1967 when Michael was 2 years old. After that though, she lost energy and had little patience left to sit and write for long hours.

Again, “Good-bye Ingrid” and “Auf Wiedersehen” in Hawaii, as you knew already, I will join you there when my time comes. And again, thank you for all the good times we cherished together and all you have taught Michael and me. We all love you very much!


An Email from Switzerland

Here is an e-mail from the Landau family, now living in Switzerland and they would like it to be read at the Memorial service. Mrs. Landau was Ingrid’s best friend from before I met Ingrid. They were living in the same apartment building in Frankfurt. Chava Landau was the witness to our marriage ceremony.

Dear George, Michael and Elisabeth,

You were closest to Ingrid and you are going to miss her most.

Although we lived apart, our long correspondence made us share each other lives and we are going to miss Ingrid very much. She was very courageous, very just in her views, very caring and very sincere. She adopted many causes of victims of discrimination and oppression. Her artistic talents added a dimension to her life.

I am sure Michael has inherited a wonderful legacy of artistic talents and love for beauty. Ingrid was very proud of him. Ingrid was surrounded by roses, created by George. This was a privilege.

We may come to Vancouver (from Seattle) in August to meet you and the roses and will regret very much missing Ingrid. May she rest in peace !

Take care ! Thinking of you a lot !

Chava and Jack.


George Mander
May 2008