Wilzer Family Loses Matriarch with the Passing Of
Wanda Wilhelmina Leitz

The Wilzer family and friends were deeply saddened on September 27, 2005 with the passing of our darling Aunt Wanda at the age of 95.  Wanda's funeral was held on Oct 1 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Herbert, Sask.  The service was conducted by Pastor Eugene Mau.  Pallbearers were Wanda's nephews Lawrence Lansberry, Larry Runquist, Allan Hill, Dale Lansberry, Paul Dahlman and Ken Runquist.  Ushers were Harry Firus and Rudy Pipke.  The soloist was Joanne Leitz and Wanda's granddaughter Shannon Espie gave the Tribute.  The Scripture Reading was by Tracey Fisher.  Following the ceremony Wanda was interred next to her beloved husband Hank at Memory Gardens in Swift Current, Sask.

The following brief history of Wanda's life was taken mostly from the obituary provided at the funeral services.  I have added information from a Family History book that I had prepared for a family reunion in 1988.  I have also added a few personal memories.

Wanda Wilhelmina Lietz (nee Wilzer)

Born June 14, 1910 in Boston, Massachusetts, Wanda was one of eight girls of their German immigrant parents, Paul and Matilda (nee Wutzke) Wilzer.  As a young child Wanda traveled from Massachusetts with her parents and her sisters Ida and Frieda Wutzke to establish a homestead north of Herbert, Saskatchewan.  Wanda remained in the Herbert area the rest of her life.  She was baptized June 26, 1910, in Newton, Mass. and confirmed in the first class of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Herbert on April 2, 1926.  She was the eldest member of this congregation.  The church always remained an integral part of Wanda's life. She looked forward to Sunday services and to Bible study classes.  Her faith and devotion to God never wavered even during many trying times. 

Wanda remained at home during her single years and, since she was the oldest of eight girls, her services were always needed.  She worked at various housekeeping jobs especially when new babies arrived.  She often spoke of cooking for large threshing crews. 

Henry William "Hank" Lietz was born on January 6, 1902 at Katrinisilofsky, Russia.  Since his father was an official of the German army at the time, Hank was a German citizen.  He immigrated to Canada in the fall of 1909 with his parents Gustav and Wilhelmena, his brothers Fred and John, and sister Wilhelmena.  Another sister Mary was born in Canada.

The Lietz and Wilzer families were often together.  When Hank and Wanda were asked how they met, they just said "We  always knew each other."  On December 21, 1941 Hank and Wanda were married at her parent's farm north of Herbert.  For their honeymoon, they journeyed the six miles to Hank's home in horse and 'carriage' - well, a cutter is almost like a carriage, isn't it?  They did finally have a fancier honeymoon but that came twenty-four years later when they went to B.C. in their brand new Ford.

They lived on a variety of rented farms for the next few years.  They bought their own farm six miles south of Herbert in 1948 and lived there until their retirement in 1965.  Hank and Wanda had one daughter, Elaine Myrna who was born on January 6, 1946 - a birthday present for her dad.  Life on the farm during the fifties and sixties was good.  They had bumper crops some years, enabling them to buy additional land.  Farming at the time involved many long hours of hard work since the machinery was small and there were many chores to be done on a daily basis.  I remember picking rocks on the farm as a youngster - Uncle Hank paid pretty good.  Leisure time was difficult to find in those days but Hank was still able to find time to enjoy his life-long love of hunting, fishing and trapping.  Hank will always be remembered for his love of nature and his patience in teaching others those things that he loved so much.

Wanda will be remembered for her wit, ready smile, open heart and her tremendous storytelling ability.  Wanda loved children and helped to raise many nieces and nephews as well as her own child and grandchildren. Her favorite subject in her later years was her great-grandchildren. Wanda's cinnamon buns were famous throughout the Herbert area.  She only stopped baking them about three years ago.  She loved to garden and maintained a large garden at her home until just a few years before her death.  She also loved to travel, and would go anywhere as long as there were people to meet and coffee to drink.  Wanda was also well known as the family historian.  She remained mentally sharp until her death. She could remember the names, birthdays, anniversaries, deaths and relationships of all the members of her large extended family.  While telling stories about days seventy years ago, she would recall what people were wearing, what the weather was like, and what every one had for lunch!  And yes - she did love to tell those stories!  Fiercely independent, Wanda was able to remain in her own home with the help of many in the community and her family until shortly before her death.

Some of my personal memories of Aunt Wanda are: picking rocks for Uncle Hank, making homemade ice cream at the farm, 'raiding' her garden in town, her baking of course, her amazing memory - what stories she could tell, and her wonderful sense of humour.  I especially remember when we gathered at her house the day after her 90th birthday.  There were dozens of butter tarts left over in a box on top of the freezer in the porch.  Aunt Wanda very seriously moaned about a mouse getting into the butter tarts and eating some of them.  She said to go look at the damage.  When I lifted the brown paper cover, there sat a little toy mouse nestled in the tarts.  It was even funnier to watch her go through the whole routine with a complete straight face again and again as more people showed up.

Wanda is predeceased by her parents, Paul and Matilda Wilzer; sisters: Lydia Wilzer, Ethel Lansberry, Ida Runquist, Frieda Walters, Pauline Runquist and husband. Henry Lietz. Left to cherish her memory are sisters: Orlanda (Lenny) Hiebert and Lil Dahlman; daughter, Elaine Espie; grandchildren: Shannon (Chris) Espie and Rick (Tracy) Espie; great- grandchildren: Zackary Hayward, Jayna and Caitlyn Sanderson, as well as many members of her extended family and friends.

Blessed be her memory!

Here is a photo gallery of some of my pictures of my dear sweet Aunt Wanda.  [Place your mouse pointer over any picture for its caption; double-click for a larger photo]