Signe Dorothy Hjelt was born in a farm house at Steeldale, Saskatchewan on February 28, 1921; the third of seven children. Dorothy grew up preferring to help with the outside chores rather than be in the kitchen, which is ironic given she eventually spent the majority of her life in the kitchen. As a young adult, Dorothy worked as a camp cook in a small Finnish mining town in Northern Ontario before hitchhiking with a friend to Toronto where she lived on Young Street and worked at the General Hospital.
Dorothy returned to the prairies and soon after she met and married Neil Kemppainen on October 31, 1942. The children soon arrived; Gladys in August 1943, Caroline in July 1944, and Ethel in March 1946.
In 1947, the decision was made to leave farming behind and head for BC. The family arrived in Decker Lake and soon settled into the little house in Decker Lake, which was Dorothy’s home for the next 59 years.
The family grew with birth of Ronald in July 1953 and Shirley in January 1956.
The centre of Dorothy’s life proved to be the kitchen where a hot pot of coffee, and homemade cookies, pies, bran muffins, and pot of soup were always readily available. She loved people by feeding them and it was common to see her kitchen filled with people visiting and eating. Dorothy would be perched on her stool, happy to sit back and listen to the chatter and, occasionally pushing more food on the crowd or to a dog hovering below.
Dorothy’s Sunday morning breakfasts were legendary. She was up early and always worried there wouldn’t be enough food. Family members who had moved out of town, but were home visiting, only had to spend time at Dorothy’s in order to see everyone as before long various aunts, uncles, cousins and friends would filter in. After visiting for many hours, as you left you’d hear Dorothy ask why you were leaving so soon as you’d just got here.
When anyone popped in for a “quick visit”, Dorothy would pull out the crib board and challenge them. They could never play one or two games as Dorothy would insist on playing the rubber to decide who the true champion was, this proved to be Dorothy the majority of the time. Although the coveted 29 hand eluded her, one of her homecare workers recently received one during a game with her.
Dorothy passed away peacefully after a short illness in the early morning of August 2, 2007, surrounded by family and friends, just as she would have wanted.
Dorothy is survived by sisters: Hilma Klassen and Gladys Hamilton (Lucky Lake, Sask), Edith Demerse (Saskatoon,Sask); children: Gladys (Bob) Saul, Caroline Kemppainen (Bogota,Colombia), Ethel (Eric) Lindaas, Ron (Liz) Kemppainen, Shirley (Wayne) Giles; many nieces and nephew, 13 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Dorothy was predeceased by husband Neil; parents Alex and Linda Hjelt; sister Ivy Hjelt; and brothers Rudolph and Oscar Hjelt.