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PIEPER, Sylvia Ella

May 18, 1939 – Zofingen, Switzerland
May 13, 2018 – Okotoks, Alberta

After an adventurous and full life, Sylvia passed away peacefully and joined her husband Bernd on Sunday, May 13, 2018 at the age of 78 years.

Sylvia was born in Zofingen, Switzerland and was the eldest of three children. She remained in Zofingen during her formative years and became an elementary school teacher. This is also where she met Bernd, her future husband. She and Bernd were married on May 22, 1963. One week later, they embarked on a journey to West Africa, where Bernd had accepted a position as brewer at the Club Beer Brewery in Monrovia, Liberia. In 1971, their daughter Sandra was born and the family stayed in Monrovia until 1980. During their seventeen years there, they formed life-long friendships and wonderful memories and were able to travel frequently to Switzerland to visit family and friends. This is also when Sylvia first heard the phrase “slowly slowly catch the monkey” and it soon became a common saying in the Pieper household.

In 1980, they moved back to Switzerland and lived there for five years. After Bernd got selected as the brewmaster for a new brewery in Calgary called Big Rock, the family left for Canada in April 1985 and made it their new home.

As a skilled cook, Sylvia made magic happen in the kitchen – combining her love for traditional Swiss recipes and spicy foods into delectable creations. She baked her own bread for many years and Weggli became a Sunday tradition. At Christmas time, she would put together gift bags of home-made Swiss Christmas cookies and hand them out to their circle of friends.

Sylvia was part of a bridge group for a long time, and she always looked forward to the weekly games. Another passion of hers was gardening. She had a big green thumb, and every year, her flower garden got bigger and more beautiful – red geraniums were always a must!

After Bernd retired in 2003, they started to travel again, and regularly visited family and friends in Switzerland, France and Germany. When Bernd passed away in 2013, she received a lot of support and help of her family, friends and caregivers. She continued to keep her mind sharp with crosswords, books and puzzles and kept enjoying her beloved Swiss chocolate and Cervelat. And through the insistence of one very special caregiver, her adventurous spirit was kept alive and sushi became a new favourite food!

Sylvia is survived by her daughter Sandra and son-in-law Dave of Edmonton, AB; her sister Vreni of Campbell River, BC; her brother Max of Switzerland; and her best friend Irène of France.

A Celebration of Sylvia’s Life will be held in June. Condolences may be forwarded through If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Alberta, 200, 119 – 14th Street N.W., Calgary, AB T2N 1Z6 Telephone: (403) 264-5549, or to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, Provincial Office, Sun Life Place, 710, 10123 – 99th Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 3H1 Telephone: 1(866) 412-4222. The family wishes to thank the wonderful staff at Tudor Manor in Okotoks for their compassionate care and support.

In living memory of Sylvia Pieper, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Fish Creek, 14441 Bannister Road S.E., Calgary, AB, T2X 3J3, Telephone: 403-256-9575.

Offer Condolence for the family of PIEPER, Sylvia Ella

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Condolence Messages

  1. Maria Slonimer

    I am sending you so many hugs Sandra!
    I have so many wonderful memories of your parents and your family welcoming into your home, when I was so unhappy in my own.
    So many dinners, holidays, card games, parties, sleep overs and crazy adventures.
    Though I haven’t been back to visit for a while and seen you or your mom, I feel as if I’ve lost a member of my own family, and will mourn your loss along with you.
    Love from me and Jacob

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  2. I am sending you all of my love and prayers. Your mom will be greatly missed. She was like a second mother to so many of us in high school and university, always opening your house to all of us.
    I treasure those memories and the influence your parents had on my life.
    With all of my love,


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  3. Heartfelt condolences to Sandra and family on the passing of Sylvia.
    Sylvia and Bernd were integral in the creation and launch of Big Rock Brewery and are always considered ‘Big Rock family’. Much love from us all….

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  4. Alastair Smart

    Condolences on your loss, I have many happy memories of her and Bernd, as I sit in her kitchen and look at garden,I will always remember them, love from The Smart family

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  5. Dear Sandra,
    With great sadness we have to accept, that Sylvia is not here anymore.
    We will remember her as a great and loving person, despite we have not seen each other for a long time. But we still remember the green salads we brought many years ago to Monrovia.
    Sandra, we wish you all the best and a lot of support in the next coming weeks.
    Kind regards

    Beda and Werner

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  6. Dear Sandra
    When I think of Sylvia then I remember the „big“ girls, Sylvia and Irène, who were allowed to go to town on Sunday afternoons and we, the youngsters, had to stay home and watch the two go, laughing, having fun and enjoying their little freedom.
    Many many years later Sylvia took us to the Kananaski Valley when we visited Canada. We had so much fun together, it was a gorgeous day and I kept the picture of Sylvia sitting on the shore of a wonderful lake in my heart all the years after.
    Vreny kept me up-to-date about Sylvia‘s illness. Her passing away is a big loss for you and Vreny. I send you and your families my heartfelt condolences and big hugs.
    Much love from Switzerland

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  7. Sigi and Juerg Kuster

    Liebe Sandra and Dave
    mit grosser Trauer haben wir Deine (nicht unerwartete) Nachricht vom Hinscheiden von Sylvia vernommen. Uns verbindet eine lange, lange Freundschaft mit Sylvia und Bernd und Dir. Haben wir uns doch schon vor über 50 Jahren in Monrovia kennengelernt und in der Bar im Ducor Hotel unsere Freundschaft besiegelt. Das hat über die vielen Jahrzehnte und die verschiedenen geografischen Etappen in Liberia – Schweiz – Kanada gehalten. Wenn wir uns nach Monaten oder Jahren wieder trafen oder uns nach kürzerer Zeit telefonisch austauschten, war überhaupt keine Zeit vergangen und wir quasselten drauflos, wie wenn wir uns erst gestern Abend getroffen hätten! Die gemeinsamen Tage an der Atlantic Beach in Liberia wie die gemeinsamen Reisen und Tage in Kanada bleiben für uns unvergesslich. Wir haben Dich Sandra vom Baby bis heute im Auge behalten und uns an Deinem Weg in Deinem Leben gefreut. Wir wünschen Dir und Dave Frohsinn und Glück in die weitere Zukunft und freuen uns auf ein baldiges Wiedersehen, wo wir dann noch so richtig in den so schönen Erinnerungen über Bernd und Sylvia schwelgen können!
    Dear Sandra and Dave
    Your telephone call left us very sad upon the news of Sylvias passing. What was factually obvious – is when it happens – not so obvious any more. We wish you and Dave all the strength and confidence to manage your future and are looking forward to see you in Switzerland soon! When we met your parents in Monrovia over 50 years ago, nobody imagined what a lovely and exciting friendship would develop of this encounter at the Roof-Top-Bar at the Ducor Hotel in Monrovia RL. The years in Liberia and the many encounters in Switzerland and later in Canada did not because of geographical distance disrupt but consolidate our friendship. When we met again, the discussions continued, where they were left the last time we met! Sylvia and Bernd and you will occupy a privileged place in our memory and life.
    Sigi and Juerg

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  8. Liebe Sandra

    Der Tod von Sylvia kam überraschend schnell und für mich unerwartet. Es tut mir sehr weh, meine beste Freundin verloren zu haben, auch wenn wir uns während der letzten Jahre nur noch via Telefon unterhalten konnten. Seit unserer Kindheit waren wir unzertrennlich. Ich habe einen Menschen verloren, der ein wichtiger, unvergesslicher Teil meines Lebens war. Danke, Sylvia.
    Dir, liebe Sandra, wünsche ich viel Kraft, um den Verlust annehmen zu können. Dein Partner Dave wird Dich dabei unterstützen.
    In grosser Trauer

    Liebe Vreni
    Auch Dir wünsche ich viel Kraft, um den Verlust Deiner Schwester ertragen zu können. Wir sind oft in telefonischer Verbindung und vielleicht hilft uns das, den Hinschied von Sylvia gemeinsam zu verarbeiten.
    Ich trauere mit Euch.
    In Liebe

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  9. Chris & Frances Phillips

    Sandra, please accept our deepest sympathy for your loss. We always enjoyed our bridge games and lunches with Bernd and Sylvia, and of course the specially-wrapped Christmas cookies. Take care and all the best to you and Dave.

    Warmest regards,

    Frances and Chris

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  10. Tineke & Nico Roelofsen

    Dear Sandra, thanks for informing us.
    What a beautiful picture of your Mom. Again our deepest condolences to you and your family.
    Like Frances and Chris, we also enjoyed the weekly bridge and lunch.
    The Christmas cookies and the hyacinth bulbs were always a highlight.
    We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.
    With kindest regards,
    Tineke & Nico

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  11. Erika Schauenberg

    Liebe Sandra und Trauerfamilie
    Wir hatten eine glückliche Jugend. Vor allem die Sommermonate mit den „Roseli“ in der Mühlewiese, die wir als ausgesprochene Wasserratten mehrheitlich in der Badi oder in und an der damals noch idyllischen Wigger verbrachten, waren wunderbare Erlebnisse. Wir hatten so viel Spass zusammen. Wenn wir alle folgsam waren und das Wetter so richtig heiss, gab es selbstgemachte Vanilleglace, damals noch alles Handwerk und ein seltenes Vergnügen.
    Dabei war Sylvia immer unser grosses Vorbild. Sie besuchte bereits das Semi (Lehrerinnenseminar) und spielte Violine, während wir uns noch in der Primarschule abmühten und unsere Blockflöten malträtierten. Nun fehlt Sylvia in unserem Kreis, vergessen ist sie nicht.
    Auch mein Aufenthalt bei Euch in Monrovia, die interessanten Ausflüge in die Stadt und an die Beach, die kleine Sandra, die lachend um den Esszimmertisch rannte und die Irish Terrier Hündin „Buffy“ werden immer in meinem Gedächtnis bleiben, ebenso die Abendessen mit Deinen Eltern für die sie bei ihren Schweizerreisen immer Zeit fanden.
    Diese Woche habe ich im Gedenken an Sylvia und Bernd einen bunten Blumenstrauss aus meinem Garten unter die meterhohe Engelsstatue auf unserem Friedhof Bergli gestellt. Der Engel strahlt Trost aus und hält seine Arme schützend um alle Verstorbenen und deren Angehörige um ihn herum und gewiss auch um jene in Kanada, die immer zu uns gehören werden.
    In grosser Anteilnahme

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