August 30, 1931 – Brake, Germany
December 26, 2014 – Calgary, Alberta
Denis was a published author of maritime history, loved reading, dancing, traveling, conversation, and a good cup of coffee and piece of cake.
During his childhood, Denis had a front row seat to the horrors of World War II. The experience made him passionate about human rights and social justice.
Denis joined the United States Naval Forces Germany. During his time at sea, he visited many exotic locations including Cairo, Turkey, and Greece. When discharged, he was commended for his excellent efficiency in the performance of his work and for exemplary personal conduct.
As a young man, he watched Saskatchewan, a movie set amidst mountain ranges and beautiful rivers, and he decided Canada was the place he wanted to build his life. He told his fiancée, Erna Ricklefs that he would check Canada out and then send for her. In 1955, Denis boarded the Neptunia and sailed to Halifax, and then traveled by train to Moose Jaw, SK.
Upon arriving, he searched for the mountain vistas depicted in the movie only to learn the film had actually been shot in Alberta. Having found work and a place to live, he stayed in place for the time being and in 1956, Erna joined him and they married in Moose Jaw. The young couple faced many hard times as they worked to build a new life in a country so far from family and childhood friends.
A few years later they moved to Calgary, AB, both found jobs and saved enough money to buy a house where in 1965, they were joined by his only child, a daughter they named Rebecka. During these years, he established a painting business, which grew to become a successful residential and commercial painting company.
In 1975, he married Eileen Graves (nee Morey) and welcomed to his life Richard, Patricia, Janice and a dog named Brownie. A few years later, using his carpentry skills, he constructed a large building in Deadman’s Flats (Canmore), which mirrored his ancestral home in Brake, Germany. The building housed a tea room, art gallery, and bed and breakfast which they operated successfully for many years. The two traveled to Europe and Wales many times in pursuit of historical points of interest and to visit family. In those years, Denis also saw the arrival of his much loved grandchild, Rachel.
In 1999, he retired to Gibson’s Landing, BC. The mild ocean climate suited him well and he especially enjoyed finding so many like-minded individuals who were equally passionate about social justice and environmental causes.
Retirement afforded him time to enjoy a pint at the local pub with friends, coffee at Molly’s Reach restaurant (made famous by the Beachcombers TV series) and indulge his much loved interest in building ship models.
His return once again to being single prompted him to step-up participation in activities designed to advance social causes.
He enjoyed the companionship of his special friend, Lucille Holden, with whom he danced, traveled, and enjoyed her cooking while the two watched ocean liners sail by her seaside home.
Retirement plans were curtailed when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and associated dementia. Facing difficulties, he moved to Alberta to be closer to his daughter.
He bore his illness with the resolve, steadfastness, grace and humour that punctuated his entire life. He was supported during this very difficult journey by Rebecka, Jennifer Winkler, and Erna and Lutz Floegel.
A private celebration of his life took place on December 29, 2014. His final resting place will be a family grave in his homeland where he will join generations of his ancestors.
Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com. Thank you to the staff and medical team at Walden Heights Assisted Living who provided excellent care and support during this most challenging period in his life.
In living memory of Dietert Freels, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Fish Creek, 14441 BANNISTER ROAD S.E. Telephone: 403-256-9575.Print This Obituary & Condolences