NIELSEN, Alice Inge (née Sjøgren), January 26, 1927 – November 3, 2019.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Alice Nielsen our dearly loved mum, and mormor. Alice passed away peacefully on Sunday November 3rd at the age of 92, at home on Bowen with her family by her side. Alice was pre-deceased by her loving husband Frank in 2015. She is survived by her daughters, Pernille Nielsen and Tina Nielsen (Marc Gawthrop), granddaughters Annalise Barber (Niall Sheridan) and Anya Reid (Hayes Zirnhelt), and great granddaughter Teslin Alice Reid-Zirnhelt.
Alice was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1927, the fourth of five children. She grew up through the Depression in a family with little money, but with the warmth and love of their mother making it all bearable. Alice left school at 14 to work and help support her family, but had a sharp mind and continued to educate herself through crosswords, libraries, reading and constantly trying new things. Alice’s teen years were spent during the second World War, which had a profound effect on her view of the world. She was heartbroken by the horrors of the war and was sensitive ever after to all injustices, whether individual or universal.
At the age of 26 Alice travelled to Canada to visit her brother Harry in Vancouver. Within a few months she met Frank Nielsen, another Dane who had immigrated to Canada, and she fell in love – slowly. She had decided in her early twenties that marriage was not for her and planned to return to Denmark after a year travelling in Canada. So, when Frank proposed, she said she “would try it for a year” and see if it might work out. Sixty-one years later, it seems it did work out – they married in 1954 and were together until Frank’s passing in 2015.
Alice and Frank settled in North Vancouver and raised their two daughters there. Alice was at home when her children were young but needed more stimulation as the girls entered high school. She worked part time at the Danish Bakery in Edgemont Village and then at Purdy’s downtown to help with finances and to get out into the world. When the whole family moved to Bowen Island in 1989, complete with two young granddaughters, Alice took on mothering once again, caring for Annalise and Anya after school while their parents worked.
Alice was a creative soul, teaching herself to paint and improving her work from books, PBS television and the occasional class. She painted prolifically during the 80’s and then added crochet, knitting, papier maché, rug hooking, mosiacs and jewellery-making to her repertoire. Always humble about her talents she kept most of her work at home, occasionally gifting a painting or some jewellery when asked.
Right up until 2 months before her passing, Alice remained clear, bright, witty and physically spry. She enjoyed daily walks with son-in-law Marc and the dogs through the forest and along favourite Bowen trails, clambering easily over logs and rocks and discussing all manner of current topics.
Alice was both feisty and incredibly caring. She was the go-to parent when things went wrong as her empathy and understanding could always be relied upon. But faced with injustice or a bully she was quick to react and stand up for those most vulnerable. Top that off with a dry and sophisticated wit and many were surprised by the spunk of this quiet, little woman.
She will be hugely missed by her children and grandchildren, her extended family and by friends new and old. “Good things come in small packages” she used to say, but there is a big empty space left by the loss of this small bundle of kindness.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday November 23rd at 1:30 pm at the Tunstall Bay Clubhouse, 1666 Tunstall Blvd Bowen Island, BC Canada V0N 1G2
In lieu of flowers please donate to the Canadian Cancer Society or to the Bowen Island charity of your choice.