Ingrid was born on April 1st, 1941 to the parents Arthur and Mathilde Kolke in Helldorf , Deutschland, which at the time of World War II was in German occupied Poland. She was the fifth of seven children, from which only five grew up to attain adulthood. The children are Dan 1930, Reinhard 1932, Blumgard 1935, Helga 1940, Ingrid 1941, Margaret 1943, and Eric 1945.
Ingrid’s early years were marred by World War II. Ingrid’s older sister Helga passed away in March 1940, only a few weeks after her birth and more than a year before Ingrid was born. Her brother Blumgard was tragically killed by a motor vehicle at the age of ten in 1945. When the war ended in 1945, the family had to flee for their lives to Germany. It was in Germany that Ingrid accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour at the age of nine. She was baptized at the age of twelve.
After the war, many relatives and believers from their church fled to Canada for a better life. Ingrid’s oldest brother Dan was already in Canada for two years and miraculously recovering from a terrible fire accident. On August 13th, 1953, Arthur and Mathilde with their children, Reinhard, Ingrid, Margaret and Eric, arrived in Canada on a ship called the Fairsea. It was on the deck of the ship while traveling that Arthur Kolke met Franz Knodel and his sixteen year old son Paul, who seven years later would become Ingrid’s husband. It was also on the ship that Paul’s two older sisters Erna & Else would often go to the Kolke cabin and give them fresh fruit to help them to recover as they were very sick from the trip. Paul’s sisters had no idea that this skinny 12 year-old girl would some day become their sister-in-law. After the ship landed in Quebec City, they travelled across Canada by train. The Kolke’s destination was ultimately Winnipeg and the Knodel’s was Edmonton. Both families attended the German Church of God in their respective cities.
In 1958, five years later, Paul was in Winnipeg for a wedding when a 17 year-old Ingrid, who was serving food in the basement of the church, caught his eye. He asked his friend who that was and he told her she was a Kolke girl. “Kolke?!” Paul said. “I think I met her father on the boat when we came to Canada!”
A few months later in September, Paul saw Ingrid again when she attended a church fest in Edmonton with her mother. A buddy dared Paul and his friend to ask Ingrid and her two friends for a ride. Paul immediately replied, “I’ll do it!”. During the ride, Paul kept looking at Ingrid in his rear view mirror as she sat in the back seat between her two friends. Before the church fest was over, Paul asked Ingrid if they could write and they did.
In June of 1959, Ingrid moved to Edmonton and in November they got engaged. Ingrid and Paul were married in Edmonton on April 23rd, 1960.
Their firstborn son Glenn was born in 1962. The next year, Paul injured his lower back while working for Canada Dry so the couple uprooted for Winnipeg to be nearer to Ingrid’s parents. Soon a second son by the name of Donald arrived in the spring of 1964. A year later, a daughter named Sandra was born to complete the family. Two months after, the young family moved to Toronto where Ingrid’s parents relocated.
Ingrid and her family lived in Toronto for five years. During these years, they continued to attend the German Church of God. In 1969, Ingrid got her driver’s license and started part-time work again once her two oldest children were in school. Ingrid’s parents, better known as Oma and Opa, lived only a couple blocks away and often baby-sat her kids. Her first job in years was at Loblaws, a supermarket close to their neighbourhood. Then in 1970, they made a decision to move to British Columbia, following her parents once again.
In July 1970, Paul age 33, Ingrid 29, Glenn 8, Donald 6 and Sandra 5, moved to the Pacific Coast in the Metro Area of Vancouver. Paul soon found work as a sales rep for a food importing company called Koffman Foods while Ingrid worked part-time at the Bay. For the first 15 years in Vancouver, the family attended the German Church of God. Paul was the spiritual leader of the family encouraging the children to read their Bibles, teaching them how to pray, and supporting their participation in church choirs and music ensembles. Ingrid was the social coordinator, inviting newcomers and almost everyone who visited the church to her home for food and fellowship.
In 1985, following God’s direction, the family moved to another church congregation, Willingdon Mennonite Brethren Church. God used this move to change Ingrid and her family forever. Ingrid saw that it was a blessing from God to see spiritual growth in her children. The family loved the worship, messages and fellowship.
In February 1987, Paul was in a severe accident that threw him from his vehicle. Two of his vertebrae were broken, requiring neck surgery. By God’s grace, after five weeks in the hospital, he was home just in time to walk their daughter down the aisle for her wedding day.
In 1991, Paul suffered the first of two heart attacks. After the second episode in 1995, he needed quadruple bypass surgery. The Lord was again gracious in Paul’s life, allowing the surgery to be successful; however, chronic pain forced Paul into retirement the next year. Ingrid worked part-time at the Bay a couple years longer before she retired as well.
On December 20th, 2005, Ingrid and Paul were in a horrible car accident that would change their lives and Ingrid’s health forever. Immediately after the accident, a seven year-old girl named Kyanna from the other vehicle involved, prayed for Ingrid and Paul’s life at the side of the road and that is why one of Ingrid’s granddaughters was given this name when she was born 3 months later. After four months in the hospital, which started off with six days in a coma, Ingrid miraculously survived but suffered short-term memory loss to her brain for the remainder of her life.
In spite of all the accidents, God blessed Ingrid and Paul with the celebration of their Golden Anniversary in April 2010. On November 21st, 2011, Paul had a terrible fall that broke his neck and caused paralysis to half of his body. Following surgery and extensive care, his condition continued to decline. Paul passed away in the presence of Ingrid at 9:45 pm on May 10th, 2012, after 52 years of marriage.
Ingrid took the loss of her husband very hard. She loved to share how God answered her prayer as a teenager for a husband who loved the Lord. Through the next eight-and-a-half years, her focus changed from missing Paul to wanting to be with Jesus. In the last couple months of her life, her short-term memory declined to the point that it affected her safety and quality of life. Plans to move into a care home were inevitable. She would soon have to leave the comforts of her penthouse apartment above the Royal City Mall, where she loved to shop. But the Lord Jesus Christ in His mercy took her home to be with Him instead. Ingrid peacefully passed away in bed in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 10th, 2020.
Ingrid’s legacy will be her welcoming smile, her friendliness, incredible gift of generosity and hospitality, cooking, baking & sewing skills, and the unconditional love and devotion that she had for her husband, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and everyone who knew her. She will be missed.
Ingrid leaves behind her children Glenn, Don and Sandi, son-in-law Henrik, daughter-in-law Crystal, daughter-in-law Veturia, eight grandchildren: Jonathan and wife Lisa, Chelsea and husband Noah, Luke and wife Anna, Tabitha, Kyanna, Elianna, Sofia and Josef, three great-grandchildren: Erica, Landon and Cybil, brother Dan and wife Selma, brother Reinhard, sister Margaret, their families, and the many friends she loved.