Elsie (Vogt) Stobbe was born in Borden, Sask. in 1927. One of eight children, she was raised on a wheat farm where families worked hard and they worked together. There was always lots of work to go around but regardless, her parents made sure the children were sent to school and that they received a good education. Elsie completed Grade 9 in Borden and then went to a boarding school in Rosthern, Sask. to finish her education.
It was because of the Great Depression that the family eventually packed up and moved to Chilliwack in search of a better life. Her father went into dairy farming and Elsie got a job working as a nurse’s aide in the tuberculosis sanatorium in Sardis. The hospital eventually closed in 1969 along with claims that modern drugs and early detection brought tuberculosis under control.
It was while she worked at the sanatarium that she met maintenance worker Helmut Stobbe who would soon become her husband. They got married in 1949 and started a wonderful life together.
Elsie took her nurses training at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver. She worked in her profession until the children started to arrive and then she became a stay-at-home mom.
They moved to Prince George in 1961 because, like her parents before her, the young couple were in search of a better life. There were very few job opportunities in Chilliwack and Prince George was booming. They wanted to be a part of a growing city and the excitement that went with it.
She admits that she was in for a bit of a surprise when they arrived here. The first thing she noticed was the wooden boardwalk that went from the Northern Hardware all the way to the old Hudson’s Bay store. It was hard at first but the job opportunities were here and that was all that mattered.
Helmut worked as a welder and, as time went by, they purchased the Travelodge Motel on Dominion Street. Elsie worked the switchboard and did the books while Helmut managed the employees. There were 365 Travelodge Motels in operation when Elsie and Helmut won the annual award for having the cleanest housekeeping Travelodge that year.
They operated the motel for the next 12 years and are proud to say that they had the same employees for all those years. In 1977, they sold the motel, retired and became worldwide travelers for one full year. Elsie said, “My favorite place was Hawaii. We traveled to Japan, Southeast Asia, India, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean Islands just to name a few.
“During that time my husband volunteered and assisted in building a retreat centre for missionaries in Indonesia and a church near Nairobi, Kenya. They were both amazing experiences. We did not speak their language but it did not matter.
“We had three children; Lalonie (Bruce) Ballantyne, Jacquie (John) Clarke and Andrew who in turn gave us four grandchildren, four great grandchildren and three great great-grandchildren.
“Sadly, Helmet passed away in December of 2004 as a result of a trucking accident near McBride. During his life Helmet was a cowboy, a welder, a motel owner, a log home builder, a trucker (he contracted for Gordon Warner at Northwood) and above all he was always a missionary. He helped build a log building for a bible camp near Victorville, Calif. and a waterfront lodge at the Ness Lake Bible Camp.
“After he passed away my family encouraged me to sell our home in the country and move into River Bend. I love it here. I made many new friends and the staff are wonderful.”
At the age of 92, Elsie is very feisty and remains active and involved. She models for her daughter Jacquie as needed at her store Butterfly Threads, participates in Tai Chi classes, chair exercises, daily walks and other activities at River Bend. She remains active in the Westwood Church on Ospika and the newly formed chapel at River Bend. She loves to read and is proud to say that she has good eyesight and does not need glasses.
Elsie concluded by saying, “My biggest pride and joy is my family and also my Christian heritage. My advice is to work hard, keep your word and do your devotions. Try to be enthusiastic, socialize, help people when you can and love people no matter who they are.”
February birthdays that I know about: Diane MacLean, Judy Jackson, Lloyd Annis, Darlene Meyers, Cy Fortin, Bob Carrier, Judy Fisher, Amy Vander Ploeg, Ton Vander Ploeg, Sophie Chartrand, Kirsten Redding, Paul Steindl, Iris Frenkel, Verna Wright, Clarence Boudreau, Kathy Iselmoe, Joan McKay, Peter Osis, Aurela Kronebusch, Lyle Ongman, Marlene Johnson, Roman Hildebrandt, Raymond Roch, Helen Dahl, Evelyn Porter, Delores Bircher, Ingrid Maack, Wilma Scott, Lillian Peter, Edna Stitt, Fred Dettling, Marlys Labonte, Anna Sciara, Mary Brizan, Betty Pearson, Susan Scott, Helen Wlasitz, Wendy Wlasitz, Edith McLaughlin, Denise Sawtell, Rudy Wortman, Jo Nore, Judy Johnson, Donald Pickering, John Hepwood, Clifford Haiste, Ed Olichny, Bob Dods, Joyce Antonyk, Neil Peterson, Denise Chenail, Anita Laurin, Louis Matte, Gilbert Stolz, Mel Pearson, James Stanyer, Jack Wagner, Russel Prouse, Wanda Hauff, Barbara Carson, Audrey Kelly, Tena Sevigny, Doreen Kather, Lory Denlucj, Noreen Stubley, Pat Williamson, Mabel Phillips, Luci Goodfellow, Barbara Robinson, Glenda Matthews and 92 years for Rosa Fornari.