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BROWNFIELD, Johanna (nee Breevoort)

January 29, 1921 – Brielle, The Netherlands
May 3, 2014 – Calgary, Alberta

Johanna Brownfield passed away peacefully at her home in Southwood Care Centre on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at the age of 93 years.

Johanna was a character of principle and integrity, a diva of style, a fashionista, a lover of fine sports cars, a larger than life survivor, unforgettable to all who knew her. She led a life of great sorrow and tragedy and some quiet joys – all a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Johanna was born in Brielle, The Netherlands on January 29, 1921, the beloved only child of Jacobus Breevoort (an architect) and Antje Arkenbout. She excelled at school and at sports, particularly water polo. Enrolled in nursing, a long cherished goal of studying medicine and becoming a doctor was thwarted by the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war, she was active in the Netherlands Resistance Movement and was interned in Dachau before eventually being liberated by Allied Troops. She caught the eye of Canadian Serviceman, James Brewster (Bruce) Brownfield and married him in December 1945. After the war, she immigrated to Canada, travelling in a troop ship filled with war brides, landing at Pier 21 in Halifax. She travelled across Canada by train to Edmonton, AB, where Bruce met her and took her to their first home in Pouce Coupe, BC.

Their first home had no electricity and no running water, but as a new bride, Johanna enthusiastically took on the challenges of living in the Canadian “wilderness”. Her son Bernie was born in January of 1952, and she and Bruce fostered another little boy named Jackie. Johanna often fondly referred to those years as the happiest of her life. Tragically, Bernie’s life was cut short with a bout of childhood pneumonia. Bruce and Johanna were then transferred to Germany with the Canadian army in the early 1960’s and, heartbreakingly, they were not allowed to take Jackie with them. The upside of being stationed in Europe was she was able to see her parents more frequently.

After a stint in Winnipeg, where Johanna worked in the foreign students Admissions Office at the University of Manitoba, a job she thoroughly enjoyed, they ended up in Calgary. Husband Bruce, the hunter and outdoorsman, predeceased her in January 1979.

Happily, within a couple of years, she met James (“Jim”) Ernest Cooper, a poet and philosopher, her “soul-mate”, who became her friend and companion for the next 21 years, before his death in 2001.

Johanna’s passions included cats, flowers, fashionable clothing, jewellery, sports cars, and whipped cream. She fluently spoke five languages. She also loved nature, and had a genuine survivor spirit – under duress, her strength only increased.

A Memorial Service will be held at McINNIS & HOLLOWAY’S, Chapel of the Bells (2720 Centre Street North) on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. Condolences may be forwarded through www.mcinnisandholloway.com.

In living memory of Johanna Brownfield, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Chapel of the Bells, 2720 CENTRE STREET NORTH, Calgary, AB Telephone: 403-276-2296.

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Condolence Messages

  1. aart arkenbout :

    My condolences that Jo passed away. Jo was the daughter of my grandfather’s sister. She was my last direct family, born with the Christian name Arkenbout.

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