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Anne Elizabeth Marinus Vander Voet

Teacher, designer, survivor, mother, grandmother, storyteller, mentor. Born June 11, 1915, in Doorn, the Netherlands. Died Oct. 2, 2011, in Edmonton of old age, at 96.

Anne Vander Voet spent her childhood years in North Holland. She lived for a while on the estate of exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II, which was managed by her father. She fondly recalled picking carrots with the Kaiser and playing with his grandchildren.

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Cycling across Holland to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Anne met Leopold Wanacek. They married in 1936 and lived in the Jewish community in Innsbruck, Austria, fleeing to safety in Zurich after German occupation. Leopold was shot by the Nazis when he returned to Austria on business in 1938.

Anne returned to her father's home in Alkmaar, where she met Laurens Vander Voet. They married in 1942 and had two sons, Larry and Tony, during the war. Laurens immigrated to Edmonton and Anne and the children followed, arriving in 1950. Their youngest son, Paul, was born in 1953.

After arriving in Edmonton, Anne took in sewing, doing custom dressmaking for clientele referred by Holt Renfrew. "Mrs. Van" taught community sewing classes for years and joined the faculty at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where she was a valued member until her retirement. She enjoyed designing Klondike Days outfits and even taught several Edmonton Eskimos to tailor their own shirts.

Divorced from Laurens in 1965, Anne bought her own house, provided a university education for Tony and Paul and saved for her retirement by sewing after hours, teaching extra night classes and taking in boarders.

After retirement in 1978, Anne lived quietly amid a large circle of friends. She enjoyed collecting porcelains and perfumes and was the consummate organizer of everything from closets and finances to her personal home support network. She always knew where everything was, even when stashed in a bag inside a box inside a suitcase in a closet.

Anne moved to Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre in 2006, where she spent five years cared for by supportive, enthusiastic staff. She even tutored some in English so they could upgrade their qualifications.

With her remarkable memory for things long past and present, Anne loved to tell stories about her parents, grandparents and other family members. She was also fond of telling stories about the war and of the Canadian soldiers who liberated Holland.

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She had a wonderful sense of humour and loved to laugh. She read voraciously in English, Dutch and German and enjoyed political debates, CBC radio talk shows and The Vinyl Cafe. Anne was a lifelong Leonard Cohen fan, and one of his CDs was always in the player to keep her company when she felt low. Her passion for good food, expensive perfumes and cashmere sweaters continued to the end.

By Susan McCrae Vander Voet, Anne's daughter-in-law, and Tony Vander Voet, Anne's son. 

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