Obituary of Albert Dahl
Albert Dahl (1930-2023)
Albert Dahl was born on February 6, 1930 in Mariental in the Mennonite Molotschna Colony in Ukraine (known then as New Russia). He was the sixth of seven children born to Nikolai and Helene (Martens) Dahl.
Albert remembered his first seven years in Mariental as happy years, when he and his friends played in a broad meadow. Then in 1937 Albert’s father, an accountant and musician, was taken from the family and sent to exile in Siberia where he died a year later. His mother was left to feed and care for the family. On the eve of World War II, as the German army advanced toward Ukraine, Albert’s oldest brother Nikolai was sent to Russia, where he lived for the rest of his life.
For a few years the Mennonite colonies lived under German occupation, but then the tide turned. Defeated in Russia and with the Russian army approaching, the Germans retreated in 1942. In the “Great Trek,” along with many other Mennonites, Albert’s family, grandmother, and relatives fled from their homes. For two years, winter and summer, they traveled exhausted on foot and wagon and then by train in cattle cars to Poland and Germany, arriving in 1944. While in Germany, Albert turned 15 and was to report for military service. But the night before, on February 5, 1945, the family was ordered to flee again. Albert saw this as a clear leading of God. They reached the Netherlands in 1946.
In 1947, sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee, Albert’s family traveled to South America on the ship “Volendam” to begin a new life in Paraguay. After a 3-month delay in Argentina because of civil war in Paraguay, they arrived at an undeveloped area that they entitled Mariental. In 1948 the Volendam made a second trip with refugees bound for Paraguay. On this trip was the family of Erich and Olga Tisch, and the Mariental community took them in. The Tisch family had a beautiful daughter named Eugenie, and Albert fell in love with her immediately.
Meanwhile, life in Paraguay, clearing trees and starting farming, was very hard. Erich Tisch, a locksmith, decided that this life was not for him and decided to move to Argentina. He and 18-year-old Albert, had developed a close relationship and Albert immediately said, “I will go with you.” After a 3-month journey with military and physical dangers, and after several temporary settlements, they settled in Berazategui, a suburb of Buenos Aires. There Erich Tisch and Albert bought land and found work. Albert stayed with the Tisch family and his love for Eugenie grew.
On March 20, 1953 Albert married Eugenie Tisch and moved into a new home he and Erich Tisch had built. Three healthy and much-loved children were born to them: Edward, Nelida, and John Albert. Later that year Albert’s mother and his siblings Anni, Jacob, and Mika with her two children joined them in Argentina. In the next two years Albert and Erich Tisch played much music together until Erich fell ill and died of cancer. This was very hard for everyone.
Three months later, Albert found the job he wanted, as pipefitter mechanic, and this formed his working career. He learned to design templates and accurately calculate pipe elbows, a skill that stood him well the rest of his life.
High inflation and unstable government were making things more difficult for all in Argentina. Seeking better opportunities for their children, Albert and his family, along with his brother Jacob’s family, emigrated to Canada in 1965 and settled in St. Catharines, Ontario. Benefiting from his expertise and conscientiousness, Albert worked with the Ontario Paper Company in Thorold for 20 years. Looking back, Albert saw his work success as a wonderful blessing, both in Argentina and in Canada. He was also able to help many others with what he had learned, and that gave him joy.
Albert and Eugenie joined the Scott Street Mennonite Brethren Church and remained members for the rest of his life. They helped out in many ways and for over a decade served as deacons. Albert loved music and about 1980 he started a small orchestra that played German hymns and spiritual songs. People seniors’ homes and churches enjoyed these musical offerings for 40 years.
In 1996 and 1997 Albert and Eugene joined a group traveling to Nicaragua with Church Partnership Evangelism (CPE). Albert brought his accordion, played it often, and left it with the Nicaraguans when he left. Then followed a CPE trip to Ukraine where the Molotschna Colony used to be. They visited people door to door, and in church Albert played his accordian and shared of his Christian faith in the Russian language. Then followed a trip to the former German colony of Orenburg about 1000 kilometers north of Moscow. With a translator they visited people door to door. This led to a rich evening of sharing with a high-ranking Muslim family. In his words, the message he tried to leave was that “just to know this Jesus is not enough. We must all personally accept him as our savior and follow him in obedience.“
In 2003 Albert and Eugenie moved to Tabor Manor, where they spent the last 20 years of his life. They were very happy there. Albert kept busy in a little workshop, fixing things, helping others, and wheeling less able people to their destinations. He often said, “Canada is the best country, and Tabor Manor is the right place for Eugenie and me. What more could we want?”
Albert loved his children and grandchildren deeply. They were always welcome in his and Eugenie’s home, and they ate together every week. He played with them, biked with them, took them camping, encouraged them in music, taught them humorous German poems, helped them renovate their homes, and made each one feel special. In his last days he said: “Everything I did, I did in love.”
Albert Dahl was predeceased by his father Nikolai Dahl, mother Helene Dahl, brothers Nikolai Dahl, Jacob Dahl, Hans Dahl, sister Maria Braun, and sister Annie Jantz. Mourning his loss are his wife Eugenie Dahl and his brother Henry Dahl; children Edward and Ingrid Dahl, Nel and John Derksen, and John and Monica Dahl; 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grand-children.
The funeral will take place October 17 at Scott Street Mennonite Brethren Church, with visitation at 10:00 a.m. and the funeral service at 11:00 a.m. Interment will be at Niagara Lakeshore Cemetery. Sincere thanks go to the staff of Tabor Manor, who served Albert with great care, and to Tallman Funeral Homes.