Greta Witteveen

Rhody Family Funeral Home

Grietje “Greta” was born Monday, April 15, 1929 in Harlingen, Friesland, Holland (The Netherlands) to Jannes and Trijntje (Vellinga) van Nimwegen. She was one of three children along with Franskje “Frances” (born June 17, 1923 in Midlum, Friesland) and Andries (born July 17, 1924 also in Midlum). Sadly, one child was stillborn on June 11, 1938.

It was a quiet day in world news when Greta was born. However, author J. M. Barrie donated, in perpetuity, the copyright fee of his Peter Pan works to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. In addition, it was budget day in the United Kingdom, and a month ahead of a general election, when Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill announced the abolition of the 325-year-old duty on tea, cutting its price. Overall though, taxes were still higher than the previous year. In sweet addition, Greta shared her birthday with British confectionery manufacturer (Cadbury) and rower, Adrian Cadbury. Mmmmm. Greta managed to outlive him by four years.

Greta’s father, Jannes was born August 31, 1893 in Achtkarspelen, Province of Friesland. His mother’s name was Grietje and likely Greta was named in honour of her. Greta’s mother, Trijntje, was born June 24, 1897 in Franekeradeel, Friesland. They were married June 3, 1922 in Franekeradeel. Jannes was 28 years old and Trijntje was 24. Jannes died and Trijntje died.

Greta was schooled in the Netherlands, survived the Second World War and managed while her soon to be husband, Teake, served in Indonesia (East Indies) for three years until 1949. Rose tells the story of how Frances and Greta took their bike apart each night and slipped the parts under their bed mattress to hide it from the Nazi’s. She also tells the story of how Andries was given to another family and hidden “underground” so that he too did not have to serve.

The war ended and Teake took a slow boat to Canada to begin a new life. He went directly to Brantford to work at an abattoir there, Witteveen’s Meats. Having opened its doors in 1951 this business is still in existence and has three locations, St. George, Brantford and Toronto. They have served five generations of customers. Teake, greatly disappointed with his sail over to his new home did not wish the same experience for the love of his life, Greta. So, he encouraged her to fly over to Canada and that she did on Thursday, May 17, 1956.

After a five year separation, they were married later that May in Sydenham Street United Church. According to a newspaper clipping, it was a small, simple wedding with Greta (aged 23) wearing a teal blue suit, with white accessories. Apparently, Teake (aged 31) wore the happy glow that had not dimmed since his bride stepped off the plane at Malton airport. Mr. and Mrs. Earl Totten were their witnesses and the happy couple honeymooned in Niagara Falls. They first lived in an apartment Teake had readied for Greta’s arrival and then on a homestead in the St. Mary’s / Brantford area.

Teake was a carpenter and bricklayer by trade and as he built each new house, he and Greta moved into it. Thus, as a result the young couple moved around quite a bit. Like most European immigrants, both Teake and Greta had an incredible work ethic. Greta often worked right alongside Teake building or, in time, running The Lighthouse Variety Store in Point Clark. Greta could never say no to Teake and tried to teach Rose to know her limits. Nonetheless, Rose too worked hard alongside her Dad. Months were spent in Dyers Bay, learning the tricks of the trade, so to speak. In truth though, Rose would have much preferred to work outside than inside, anyways! Their work ethics have now been passed on down to Sydney as she comes into her own.

Each place they lived, Greta found work. She worked in the kitchen at W. Ross Macdonald School, which coincidently is where Megan attends school. She also worked at Campbells Soup and Harding Carpets. As an aside, August 23, 1956 saw a strike begin at Harding’s plant on Morrell Street and it lasted for 91 days. In 1959, Harding Carpets announced a major expansion to its Holmedale plant.

Prior to Rose being born, Teake was offered the opportunity to purchase a parcel of land on the Bruce Peninsula. Both he and Greta knew a good deal when they saw it and they purchased it for $500. Teake built an A-Frame house on the land. They would ski in during the winter and hike in during the summer. It was beautifully rustic, with an outhouse and water pumped in from Lake Huron. In time better amenities were procured. In addition, the cottage was lifted up and another floor built underneath it as well as an addition put on. When they retired, this is where they retired to and it became their home. Teake had his workshop there, building strong and functional furniture. Greta was right in there with Teake, often acting as bill collector. They sold the property in 2001.

Having suffered two miscarriages, losing three sons, at the age of 39 Greta was able to carry to full term, and give birth to, a beautiful baby girl on December 25, 1967. A Christmas miracle in the town of St. Mary’s! Wanting to call her Rosalind the woman in the next hospital bed to Greta convinced her the baby needed to have a name associated with Christmas. Thus, Rosemary Frances was named!

By 1971, Greta, Teake and Rose had moved into Point Clark to live and run the Lighthouse Variety Store. This was a hectic business venture as it encompassed a motel, convenience store, restaurant and gas pumps. Stories are told how the family were often called from their private time to pump gas or to fire up the deep fryer in order to serve hungry and demanding customers. They stayed there for three years until moving to Lion’s Head in 1974. It was there the Witteveen family had full-time residence. Rose went to school for three years.

And then it was yet another move, this time to Wiarton. Rose completed both public and high school there. While in Wiarton, Greta again worked a number of jobs. She worked for Schneider’s promoting their products at Colter’s as well as at Cheshire’s Clothing. She was a top-notch salesperson and seldom missed a sale. Of course, this made her co-workers a little envious yet gave them something to strive towards!

Greta and Teake loved to travel back to Europe and did so numerous times. It was important for them to stay in touch with family and to show Rose the beautiful countryside and cultures of Austria, Switzerland and, of course, The Netherlands. Teake and Greta also enjoyed card playing parties and get-togethers and Rose was always in tow.

Greta enjoyed having a rock and flower gardens. They also had a current patch and then a vegetable garden when they were in Wiarton. As there are no immediate benefits while picking currents Rose did enjoy the delayed benefit of her Mom’s Black Current Jam! Mmmmm. Greta was a fantastic cook producing incredible meat and potato meals. Holidays or special days were always observed with a big turkey dinner. Greta was a great planner and like her husband, was an anticipator, knowing actions well in advance.

Her family’s favourite though? Monkey Nut Cake. What is it you ask? Well, Emmett could probably tell you the best description. In fact, all of the family could give the best description as they all loved it! Okay….. here is a hint. It involved angel food cake, lemon pudding and canned tangerine slices. Mmmmm. Emmett also remembers Oma talking a lot! Sydney remembers being babysat by Oma and Megan remembers sleep-overs at Oma’s. All of Greta’s grandchildren recall how she was such a great storyteller, entertaining them with lots of, especially, war stories. And of course, there was all the knitting. Afghans, sweaters and socks, lots of socks! Then there were the fingerless gloves for Rose. What lovely memories! Greta was a good grandmother!

Greta had experienced too much pain and sorrow of the war and three miscarriages to whine or complain. In her later years, she also had a triple bypass as well a knee and hip replacement. However, she was a straight shooter and strong-willed. Thankfully one always knew where they stood with Greta and thus there was no game playing. On her own, Greta gave up her driver’s license at the age of 80. She was far too level headed to wait until she had an accident to give up driving. She has passed onto her family the gifts of independence, survival, hard work, the importance of respect and the need to also have some fun! Greta was always in her family’s corner, having their backs!

In the summer of 2000, Greta and Teake moved down to Chesley where Rose and her family were living at that time. They moved into the Islay House and sadly, Teake lived for just over a year there, dying in December of 2001. Greta lived in Islay House until she moved into Parkview Manor in November of 2018. Playing cards, doing jigsaw puzzles and going downtown for coffee filled Greta’s sometimes empty days once Teake was gone.

Greta Witteveen of Chesley, passed away with her daughter by her side, at Parkview Manor on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 in her 91st year.

Loving mother of Rose Witteveen of Paisley. Cherished Oma of Sydney, Megan and Emmett Myers. Greta was predeceased by her husband Teake, siblings Andries VanNimwegen, Frances Visser, granddaughter Sadie Myers and her parents Jannes and Trijntje (Vellinga) VanNimwegen.

A memorial service celebrating Greta’s life will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 11 a.m.

Memorial donations to C.N.I.B. Foundation would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.

Send to friend
Heather Ward
July 21, 2019
Rose so sorry for your loss thinking of u and your family during this difficult time sending you a big hug
Kevin and Heather
July 20, 2019
Our deepest sympathy to you and your family.
Sjoerd Witteveen
July 20, 2019
Rosemary: sorry to hear about your mom Greta’s passing after a long and happy life. Averill and I enjoyed reading about your mom’s life and the details about her and Uncle Teake coming to Canada and their life here. We are sure you cherish your wonderful memories of their life here with you and your family.
Our sincerest condolences to you and your family.
Your cousin Sjoerd and Averill
Catherine Krause
July 15, 2019
To Rose and family . Our condolences on ure mother's passing .
Edith & Richard Pepper
July 15, 2019
Sort to hear of your mom’s passing.
Paul Lienhardt
July 14, 2019
I’m so sorry for your loss Rose. Peace be with you and your family❤️
Janine Nixon
July 13, 2019
So sorry to hear about your Mom. Hugs to you Rosie.
Nancy & Bev Nickel
July 12, 2019
So sorry for your loss of Greta. She was a wonderful lady. Thankfully memories last forever
Mary & Steve Fenton
July 12, 2019
Rose, Sydney, Megan & Emmett You are all in our thoughts & prayers...Your Mom & Oma was a very special lady that will be missed by all, that had the privilege & pleasure of knowing her. Hold your special memories close today & always.
Christina Winkels
July 12, 2019
My condolences to the family. we enjoyed Greta at the Day Away.
Paul Sinclair
July 12, 2019
Sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Thinking of you at this difficult time. My deepest sympathy to you and your kids.
Coleen Fenton
July 12, 2019
Thinking of you and your family during this time of sorrow.????
Doug & Kathy Lein
July 12, 2019
We are sorry to hear of the passing of your mother. May God grant you his peace at this difficult time. God Bless
Natalie Whalen
July 12, 2019
So sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. I have such great memories of your mom and dad growing up. Hugs to you and the kids.
Mary Lynn and Don Standen
July 11, 2019
Please know that oUr thoughts are with you and your family, Rose.
Sharon and Kent Hope
July 11, 2019
So sorry for your loss Rosie. Thinking of you.
Pam and Bill Inkster
July 11, 2019
So sorry for your loss of your Mother. We are thinking of you and your family. Pam and Bill
Brenda Beaney
July 11, 2019
Sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Thinking of you at this difficult time. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.
Terry Murphy
July 11, 2019
My sincere condolences for your loss Rose.
Jayne Tibbo
July 11, 2019
Rose & Family
Sorry to hear about your Mom passing away.
We extend our deepest sympathy to you all❤️
Tracey Bookham-Smith and Guy Helwig
July 11, 2019
Rosie, I will always remember your mom as a very kind but strong lady. Our thoughts are with you and the kids at this time.
Lorri and Dan Trafelet
July 11, 2019
Our thoughts are with you.
Marlene Witzke
July 11, 2019
My sincere condolences for your loss Rose.
Don and Sharon Bryce
July 11, 2019
Rose sorry to hear of your moms passing our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.
Donna McKeag
July 11, 2019
Rose, I am so sorry to hear of your moms passing..

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[I] have already told many people what an amazing job you did. My entire family and friends couldn’t agree more! Everything was totally looked after. Things I never would have thought of were either done or brought to my attention. Thank you so much for everything you did. It made a really rough time a little easier to handle. Thank you!

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Nothing comes to my mind as to what you could have done to improve our experience. My whole family was so pleased, as was I, with every detail. All of the details were so well presented and the full staff were so helpful. In terms of pricing, we received what we asked for ten-fold. Every aspect of Jim’s funeral was so well presented and we would certainly pass this on to others. 

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Cathie Stauffer

I really can’t think of anything you could have done to better improve our experience. The only other funeral that I helped arrange was for my father, and at that time I didn’t get the same sense of professionalism or sympathy. Nathan was willing to accept our suggestions, and also to “take the lead” in showing us the next step and what was expected, even to putting details of the funeral into my computer!

Martie Dorland

You did a wonderful job from start to finish. I can’t think of anything you need to improve on. Great job! Helping us to wade through the government forms was great! Saved us a lot of anxiety. We will definitely recommend your funeral home. Wonderful service with kind and caring staff. 

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I don’t see how you can improve exceptional services. Whatever was necessary on your part to provide was done without question. You eliminated much paperwork and guided us through a painful process with empathy and professionalism. 

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Kim Moylan

Nathan, I can’t tell you how much your care and support has meant to my whole family. You obviously take great pride in the service you provide. I can’t think of anything you could have done to help us more. You, your mom and Terri-Ann make an excellent team. I had so many compliments on the set up and the service. I sing your praises to everyone who asks. Keep up the fantastic work.

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It was exceptional how Nathan opened our hearts and minds to give info; then transferred into so many ‘on target’ ways. Also very comforting and understanding to us all. Many comments, impressed, liked all that was done, respectful family-like atmosphere at all times. Especially kind to young members of family as well. Above and totally beyond expectation – Thanks.

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Our law office often has had many estates involving families who have obtained funeral services from Nathan. He is regarded by my staff and myself as outstanding for his professional, pleasant, and efficient manner. We would highly recommend Rhody Family Funeral Home to anyone.

Ross McLean, McLean Lawyers

Dear Nathan, I cannot say thank you enough for everything you and the rest of the Rhody Family Funeral Home team done for our family with Mom's passing. From the moment you got to Mom's house your professionalism was second to none. You listened and read between the lines yet missed nothing, every little touch was simply perfect, you left nothing undone, your care and compassion to ensure our family made Mom proud one more time, and for that I am forever grateful. You took a very difficult time for us and made it as simple and stress free for us as humanly possible. Nathan you should be very proud of yourself and the rest of your team. You have definitely set the bar very high for any other funeral home in the province to follow. Again thank you

Sincerely, Deb and Doug

Nathan: Thank you so very much for all that you have done for my Mom and my family. Your friendship during this difficult time was truly heartfelt. You made us feel welcome and like a part of your family. The whole time we spoke both at the nursing home and then at your place was a very peaceful experience. Not once were we made to feel like we did not belong there. Your attention to detail in everything that all of us said shows in the story of my Dad’s life and the video. Where there were concerns, you set them all at ease. I so appreciate all that you did for my Mom in helping her take care of cancellations and notifications for my Dad. It set her mind at ease knowing that you were taking care of all of this for her. It set me at ease knowing that she would not have to deal with the frustrations that sometimes come in taking care of these things. You and your family have gone above and beyond in all that you have done for us and I am truly thankful. The warmth and caring went home with us that day. We knew that the right choice had been made in allowing you to take care of my Dad. Again, thank you.


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Darren Goodayle

Our aunt & uncle were buried from a different funeral home and we noticed a huge difference in the funeral home services provided. Our mom and dad looked so natural (thank you!) while our aunt and uncle did not. Thank you Nathan, we can't begin to tell you how much we appreciate you and your staff this year!

Ann Legge, Patricia Tibbo & Jane Lembke

All the worlds a stage and all the men and women merely players." Rhody Family Funeral Home takes this and runs with it in an intricate and tasteful manner. The beautiful funeral home sets the stage to reflect the deceased's individual personality. Nathan's artistic ability is only surpassed by his compassion, sincerity and understanding. He goes above and beyond the required duties. His staff is second to none. Darlene Rhody soft spoken and sympathetic and Morris Emke gentlemanly and obliging. Pastor Terri-Ann is like no other with her comforting words of wisdom and encouragement and so compassionate. Her service was nothing short of beautiful. A very heartfelt thank you to Nathan and his staff for making an unpleasant experience bearable. And hats off to Rhody Family funeral home for sending dad -Ross Hammond off in the fashion he deserved. From my mom and my siblings our sincerest gratitude.

Nancy Nickel

Personnel, facilities, advise & support all exceeded our expectations - it helped to communicate details by email. In particular, both Nathan and Terri-Ann did an excellent job! I was surpised at the after service documentation - all details well organized.

Larry Bell

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Amy Stephen

Everything was great - many great comments made about the story alone on Pearl's life and we sent copies to people who could not attend - a very nice addition.

Family of Pearl Stephen

Our experience was amazing under the circumstances. Your services were perfect. You went above and beyond our expectations. You are very caring, compassionate and professional in your approach. You create a very therapeutic environment.

Elmer Ward

"Dear Nathan, your many caring and creative touches from the notice to the burial in the days following Catharine's (McKeeman) passing meant so much to all of us. You honoured her life in so many meaningful ways. Your compassion and celebration of her life will always be remembered by all those Catharine held dear."

Ian Campbell, Catharine's Brother

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Kim and Alan Grant

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Lawrence and Heather Lamarche

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Carol Golem

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Roberta Godwin

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Gloria Albright

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Deborah Hart

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William & Loraine Patterson

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Valerie Long

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Dave Hillier

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Olivia Strucke

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Kevin Dailey

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Siobhan Bell

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Debbie Eidt

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