Mia (Mary) Elisa Rys was born in Maasniel, Netherlands on September 10, 1925 to parents Johannes and Maria (Verhaggen) Rys. Mary and her twin sister, Lydia (Lit), were the fifth and sixth of eight children, all born within six years (yes, you read that right!). They joined older siblings Pete (1921), Louis (1922), Annie (1923), Lisa (1924) passed away at 14 mos. later on the day Mary and Lit were born. In 1926 Bertha was born with Theo following in 1927. Sadly, Theo also died in infancy. The Rys family resided in Maasniel, a farming village, yet farmed on the outskirts of town. After her public school education, the family came together because the war broke out. Sadly, Mary's father died in 1943 and her role at home increased. The war lasted until October 1945. After the war and the liberation of Holland, Mary’s family began to rebuild their lives.
It was five years later that Mary and Harry Hubertus Biermans wed. Harry had always been a friend of the family. He immigrated to Canada for work and a better life, the year was 1949. He began corresponding by letter with Mary’s mother to encourage her to visit Canada and see how great it was. Mary left by boat for Canada in May of 1951 to stay with her cousin. Harry and Mary’s courtship was very short due to immigration policies. They were wed in Woodstock on June 20, 1951, and took up residence there, while Harry continued to work on a local farm.
The couple soon welcomed Joseph in 1952 and John in 1953. In November of '53, the Biermans' relocated to St. Mary's where their family grew even bigger with the additions of Mary An (1954), and Harry (1956). The couple’s hard work paid off when they accomplished their life-long dream of purchasing their own farm. On April 25, 1959, the Biermans family moved north, buying a 100 acre farm on the 8th of Elderslie. In October 1959, their youngest child Margaret was born. In addition to caring for her young family, Mary helped Harry whenever she could on the farm. She also took great pride in her housekeeping. The kids fondly remember their mother keeping a spotless house, hanging out the clothes and burning “the stuff”. She was also known for her ironing skills, which included ironing everything from sheets to underwear. To say she was a bit of a perfectionist would be an understatement.
In 1991, Mary and Harry moved off the farm and into town. Here they remained active within the community in a variety of roles. They also spent more time with their children and grandchildren, loving every opportunity they had to be together as a family. Sadly, Harry died suddenly in 1998. Although Mary’s world drastically changed, her faith and the love and support of family and friends allowed her to continue to enjoy life once again. She was a strong-willed, tenacious woman who always enjoyed laughter. These traits and the many memories she left us all will remain in our hearts forever.
Mary's faith played an important role in her life. Growing up she was always close to her Oma but it was her relationship with Tante Maria (Johannes’ sister, a nun) who encouraged her faith. They had an exceptional bond, and Mary looked to her as a role model. The Bible, religion and her church soon became staples in Mary's life. Mary and Harry shared their faith with their family and could always be seen on Sundays at church for Mass. Mary also became involved in the C.W.L., remaining active for the remainder of her life. In addition to reading her Bible, Mary also enjoyed reading Catholic Digest. She led a faith-filled life and was always there for her family and friends, with prayers, love and support. Mary had a way of connecting with people. She showed interest in whatever you were doing and wanted to be informed of your life. Her conversations would often end with,. “Make sure you thank God”.
In her spare time, Mary enjoyed knitting and needlepoint. She loved word searches and a good game of cards, especially euchre and solo. She was also fond of watching a variety of sports like, Hockey, Baseball and Basketball. The Montreal Canadiens were her favourite, this passion led the family to buy their 1st TV in 1955. She also had a weakness for game shows, with Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right and Jeopardy being some of her favourite. She loved nothing more than being surrounded by her family. She always enjoyed hearing the latest crop update from Harry and Joe. Consequently, she was always in tune with the weather and loved going on crop tours. A farmer to the end. She loved being surrounded by her grandchildren and in recent years, great-grandchildren, enjoying their company at variety of family events.
Mary loved the summer months, always monitoring the rain for friends and family. She adored music, particularly the Bee Gees, The Moody Blues and Simon and Garfunkel, just to name a few. Mary loved to sing and dance, and even though Harry had two left feet, it did not deter her from dancing the Waltz or Polka. When not reading her Bible, Mary enjoyed anything Danielle Steele or a variety of Mennonite stories. The kids tell me if you wanted to get mom to relax and get on her good side, you offered her a Caesar or mixed a beer and Clamato juice! Mary and Harry also enjoyed travelling. Throughout the years they experienced a variety of destinations which included trips back home to Holland, as well as stops to visit family in South Africa and California. They also travelled east to Quebec as well as out West. Apparently, Harry was not the best driver, so Mary was forced to be a great back seat driver.... or at least that is what I am told!
As Mary's mobility changed in 2018, she decided to move from her home in Chesley to Central Place in Owen Sound. She enjoyed her life by playing cards, exercising, Spa days and making new friends. Unfortunately, her age and health caught up with her, as it does to all of us. Mary passed away surrounded by her loving family at Chapman House on Friday, September 13, 2019 at the age of 94.
Loving mother of Joseph (Linda) of Chesley, John of Sacramento, California, Mary An Blythe (Mike Fisher) of Owen Sound, Harry Jr. (Jennifer Healey) of Tara and Margaret (John) Ellis of Barrie. Cherished grandmother of twenty grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren with more to come. Mary was predeceased by her husband Harry Sr., and seven siblings.
Visitation will be held at Rhody Family Funeral Home, Chesley on Monday from 6 - 9 p.m. A Funeral Mass celebrating Mary's life will be held at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church, Chesley on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 at 11 a.m. Interment in Chesley Cemetery.
Memorial donations to Chapman House or Dobbinton United Church Food Grain Bank would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.Send to friend