Dr Hans Adalbert Witt was born in Brasdorf, East Prussia, on 29 August 1934. At the outbreak of World War II, Hans’s life changed in ways that would shape his character and influence his legacy of tenacity.
In 1945, Hans, his seven siblings, and their mother fled to Schleswig-Holstein. There, Hans completed his schooling and apprenticed as a tool and die maker. In 1955 the family, sponsored by the Mennonite Church, immigrated to Canada and settled on a farm in Virgil, Ontario. To support his family, Hans worked as a newspaper truck driver and then as a tool and die maker with GM. During this time, he took courses at night to learn English, and his hard work saw him enter medical school. He became a family doctor and then specialized in anesthesia. He married Nancy McAdam and they lived in various towns in BC with their two children, Heidi and Jonathan. Sadly, his marriage did not continue.
In 1994, Hans returned to Toronto and began practising psychotherapy. He retired in 2005. On a visit to Kelowna, he met Ela Jackel and their beautiful relationship began. In addition to dancing and gardening with Ela, Hans was an avid bridge player.
As a young immigrant, his career was shaped by his mother’s words that “education will save your life.” His passion for lifelong learning was evidenced when he became a student once more and, at age 82 at UBC Okanagan, achieved his dream of attaining a Bachelor of Arts degree. Indeed, he is a role model for anyone whose life circumstances are challenging. His love of learning is indeed a legacy he leaves the next generation of family.
In 2018, Hans was diagnosed with cancer. He underwent surgery and radiation, but in December his health challenges increased. He died peacefully at Kelowna Hospice House on 21 January 2020.
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