Obituary for Elsie Lyste
Elsie Viola Isaak was born November 9, 1930 in Demaine, Saskatchewan. Her parents, Peter and Aganetha Isaak, were Mennonites of German heritage who immigrated from Russia. She was born after sister Susan, with sister Helen and brothers Peter and Jake also being born in Saskatchewan. They grew up speaking German at home and Elsie began grade school there. The family left Saskatchewan for B.C. in 1941 with brothers Don, John and sister Carol being born there. The family settled in Clearbrook just off South Fraser Way. Peter was a hard working father and worked various jobs including growing strawberries, raspberries, raising chickens and milk cows. He also worked various agricultural jobs. Aganetha was a hard worker with a large garden, many sewing and knitting projects in progress and baking and cooking always underway. Early in life, the children learned the value of a strong work ethic. Elsie recalls picking strawberries, raspberries, and hops with her sisters, Susan and Helen. Though life on the farm was hard at times, everyone was in the same situation. With a praying grandfather, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins nearby, everyone supported each other.
Elsie attended North Poplar School in Abbotsford. She went to Philip Sheffield for junior high and it was during this time that Elsie recalled a funny story. She and her mother walked to Abbotsford and as money was scarce during those days they didn’t buy a lot of groceries. They did, however, see some bargain priced biscuits in a store window. They decided to treat themselves and tried eating them on their way home. Expecting to sink their teeth into their treats they were surprised when they couldn’t make a dent in them. They later found out they were dog biscuits. After that, both were very skeptical of getting edible goodies on sale.
Elsie spent her high school years at Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI). It was during her years there that she met Heddy Reimer, who remained a lifelong friend. Elsie graduated from Grade 13 in 1950 and in September of that year began training and working at Essondale as a Psychiatric Nurse. In 1956, Elsie determined to become a teacher and began training at the Vancouver Normal School. After doing practicum she was required to attend summer school at UVIC and UBC to get her Elementary Basic Certificate. She also attended Columbia Bible School for one year from 1956-1957.
Elsie then began teaching in Lillooet B.C., where she remained for 8 years. One of her cousins, John Isaak, was principal of a local school in Dawson Creek. He invited Elsie to make a move north and teach. Elsie’s first school in Dawson Creek was Crescent Park Elementary. In addition to the adventure of moving up north, November of 1965 saw Elsie going on a tour with the mission organization Compassion. The tour went to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Hawaii. While in Korea, Elsie met with a child whom she had been sponsoring. She had decided to sponsor the child because of the poverty there after the Korean War. With her compassionate nature and love for children, she felt compelled to help in this way. Elsie attended Bethel Pentecostal Church where she met the Lyste family. Matchmaker Grandma Lyste frequently invited Elsie over, coincidentally with bachelor son Roy also often in attendance. Grandma Lyste’s prayers were answered when Roy and Elsie were married on October 8, 1966. Daughter Donna was born on August 7, 1967 making their family complete.
The family resided on 116th Avenue where neighbours, like the Finkles, became lifelong friends. Elsie taught at Trembley Elementary School with the majority of her students being in Grade 1. Elsie’s true passion was teaching young children. One goal at the beginning of each year was to remember each child’s name by the end of the first day of school. Many former students would approach Elsie in Dawson Creek with fond memories of their Grade 1 years. She was even known to let her students nap as she knew the transition from home to full time school was difficult. Donna recalls report card time at the Lyste house was stressful as Elsie strove to individualize each report in a positive and uplifting manner. Elsie was well respected by all who worked with her. She continued to love teaching until her retirement in 1989.
In retirement, she maintained a keen interest in children’s lives. At family reunions she could be found interacting with the younger crowd and assisting with crafts and various projects. Her teacher’s heart and spirit were always at the forefront of what she said and did.
It was during the busy years of teaching that Elsie incredibly made time to volunteer with Crusaders, Missionettes, Camp Sagitawa Board, teaching Sunday School and various other church activities. She had an organized schedule which did not vary much even into retirement.
As a retirement present to herself, Elsie purchased a greenhouse. Elsie and Roy spent many hours in the garden nurturing beautiful flowers, vegetables, and fruits. They enjoyed camping, beginning with a tent and finally graduating to Roy’s beloved truck and camper unit. In their retirement, they enjoyed numerous trips to Fairmont Hot Springs, Sheridan Lake with sister Susan and brother-in-law George, and numerous campgrounds around B.C.. Besides her overseas trip to Korea, Elsie, Roy and Donna spent one spring break in Maui. Elsie especially loved the tropical vegetation and fresh fruit. Roy and Elsie made one epic train journey across Canada where they visited in Ontario with many of Elsie’s cousins. Though Elsie enjoyed seeing Niagara Falls and many sites around southern Ontario, her primary joy came with meeting up with family members.
Family was a treasure and she made it a priority in her life. When traveling to visit relatives down south, brother Don and sister-in-law Maureen’s home was the half way stop. Many meals and happy times were shared in their Quesnel home. When baby sister Carol and husband, Ed made a permanent move up north, many Sundays and almost every holiday were spent in Rose Prairie, Clayhurst, Fort St. John, and Taylor. The sisters would always work out what to bring and Elsie would undoubtedly bring more than the agreed upon menu items. Sunday faspas were enjoyed together, especially with Elsie’s meat buns, pies and pickles.
Elsie was a faithful member and supporter of the Bethel Church family for the past 50+ years. She was keenly interested in missions and kept informed and prayed for missionaries both from among the family and the extended church family. Her social life was centered around her church. She and Roy especially enjoyed the yearly Seniors Camp and weekly Legacy Builders. Tuesday mornings were complete when she could work on projects with her beloved quilting group.
She liked to keep her mind sharp doing Suduko and crosswords, and was an avid reader throughout her life. During her recent hospital stay, she spent many hours reading and keeping her mind active. She also spent much time praying for others and being thankful for the caring hospital staff.
Elsie was predeceased by parents, Peter and Aganetha Isaak, husband, Roy Lyste, sister Susan (George) Bartsch and brothers Jake Isaak and John Isaak. Elsie will be greatly missed by all whose lives she touched. Her faithful birthday and anniversary cards will be remembered fondly.
Elsie passed away March 26, 2017 in Dawson Creek, B.C. at the age of 86.
A funeral service was held Saturday, April 1, 2017 at Bethel Pentecostal Church, Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Pastor Gordon Warriner officiated. Interment took place prior to the service in the Cherry Point Community Cemetery.
Expressions of sympathy in memory of Elsie may be made by donation to the Cherry Point Community Cemetery, General Delivery, Cherry Point, Alberta T0H 0T0.
Arrangements were entrusted to Bergeron Funeral Services & Crematorium Ltd.