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Dorothea Zwart

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Dorothea Zwart

September 24, 1930 - October 20, 2021


On October 20th, 2021, Dorothea Zwart (nee. Hoek) passed away at the age of 91.
She was born September 24, 1930, in Wormerveer–a small town in the Dutch province of Northern Holland. She would come to be known by many names: most commonly, Do, but also Thea, and Mme/Mrs Zwart. To her many nieces and nephews, she was Dodo.
Do’s formative years spanned the Great Depression and the Second World War in occupied Holland. Despite the bleakness of the times, she was able to enjoy a childhood that included trips to the seaside, riding bicycles, and swimming and sailing in the canals near her home. These were fond memories she carried throughout her life and enjoyed recalling in conversation–always proud of her Dutch roots.
She met the love of her life, Hans Zwart, at the age of fourteen, and they eventually married in 1949. Two years after their wedding, they immigrated to Canada to reunite with Do’s family who had moved there earlier. Settling in the Montreal suburbs, Do and Hans spent their first years in Canada working hard to build a life for themselves. Hans was a carpenter by trade. Do started out by providing childcare for a local family, which she enjoyed, but eventually she would embark on something completely new. In the early 1960’s she became a lab assistant in the etymology lab at the MacDonald College campus of McGill University. Incredibly smart and with a meticulous attention to detail, this was work she was well suited for. She worked with a team of young etymology students and, through their combined efforts, she helped to discover a new species of myte. When the findings were eventually published, in 1965, Do was proud to learn that the myte had been named after her: Neparholaspis zwartae.
When Do and Hans weren’t working, they could be found sailing, travelling in their custom motorhome that Hans built, or spending time with family. They always had a special place in their hearts and home for their nieces and nephews. Their house in Vaudreuil, Quebec, backed on to the Saint Lawrence river where they hosted many adventures. Sailing, swimming, having picnics, and catching frogs and tadpoles, are all fond memories shared among those who got to spend time at Om Hans and Dodo’s house. In colder weather there were games indoors, and a trove of stuffed toys and dolls to play with; all adorned with beautiful clothes that Do made by hand.
Born into an artistic family, Do was a natural for fibre arts including the historic and intricate method of bobbin lace; a form of weaving. It was a pastime she enjoyed with her aunt and uncle, Piet and Wil, when the family would visit together; and In the late 1990s she joined the Chilliwack Bobbin Lace Club where she loved bonding with her lace friends over meetings, lunches, and day trips.
It was 1995 when Do and Hans moved across Canada to settle in British Columbia. They established a life in Chilliwack and spent over twenty years living in retired bliss in their small home in the Chilliwack River valley. They made many friends and enjoyed socializing and celebrating special occasions with a network of neighbours. Even in her last year in their little home, Do was still reaching out to make friends with newcomers to the neighborhood.
Do and Hans adopted many animals over the years. They were never without a dog in their lives, and each was adored and doted on. For Do, no trip or even a small outing, could be planned without ensuring that appropriate measures were in place for the comfort of their pets. Her devotion to her pets was an extension of love for nature. Do found great joy in providing birdhouses for the sparrows and chickadees in her yard, and she never let her hummingbird feeders go dry. During the Quebec winters, she even had Hans fashion a heater for the bird bath, so that it wouldn’t freeze, to make sure that the birds had some water to drink.
Do also had a passion for gardening and houseplants. She had an enviable green thumb and could propagate, seed, grow, prune, and nurture any plant that came into her care. Her vegetable garden was second to none, and she would stock the freezer and pantry every year with preserved beans, tomatoes, and various soups that she made from scratch with her annual bounty.
In the last few years of her life, Do took up residence at Heritage Village long term care home in Chilliwack. She was provided with the highest standard of professional elder care by a team of people who adored her–as she did them–and who ensured that her every need and comfort was met with respect and kindness.
While 91 years of someone else’s life can be summarized in a single write up, it is next to impossible to do those years justice. If Do were here to read this today–with her unwavering attention to detail–she would no doubt be filling in the blanks to note specific dates and events (and be unable to comprehend how we could have missed them). Then she would educate us, as she always did, about why it mattered. Nothing was ever inconsequential to Do. She sought meaning in her pursuits, and strove for purpose and perfection in her accomplishments, no matter how big or small.
Rest in peace, Dodo. We love you.
Dorothea was predeceased by her parents, Kees and Dora (1993 and 1996); her brother, Wybrand (2010); brother-in-law, Graham (2012); sister, Margo (2012); and her beloved Hans (2015).
She is survived by her extended family and her friends. Due to the pandemic, there is no gathering planned. We, her family, feel at peace that Do can finally rest, and we quietly celebrate the life she lived.


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From: Bakerview Community Crematorium & Celebration Centre

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