Friends Funeral Service
Elfriede Dotzlaw

Elfriede Dotzlaw (Lutzer)

Tuesday, August 27th, 1935 - Thursday, April 25th, 2024
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Elfriede Dotzlaw (Lutzer) Obituary

Peacefully, on April 25, 2024, after a valiant battle with cancer and with her daughter by her side, Elfriede Dotzlaw (Lutzer) went to be with her Lord and Saviour at the age of 88 years.

Elfriede leaves to mourn her loving children, Reinhard (Marlene), Helmut (Angie), Gary (Teresa) and Birgit; grandchildren, Andrew, Emily, Justin, Katrina and Ryan; sister Helma, brother Harry (Cheryl), sisters-in-law Gail and Margaret and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband of 45 years, Rudy, and infant daughter Christel.

The family is very grateful for the wonderful care mom received from the Palliative Care Team and the staff at Riverview 3East Wing and Grace Hospice.

The funeral service will take place on Friday, May 10, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. at the Concordia Avenue Church of God, 705 Concordia Ave, Winnipeg. Interment Glen Eden Memorial Garden.

To view the livestreamed service click this link.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CancerCare Manitoba or the Salvation Army
Read Less

Service Details

  • Funeral Service

    Friday, May 10th, 2024 | 1:00pm
    Friday, May 10th, 2024 1:00pm
    Concordia Avenue Church of God
    705 Concordia Avenue
    Winnipeg, MB
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Pastor Martin Kehler
  • Interment

    Friday, May 10th, 2024 |
    Friday, May 10th, 2024
    Glen Eden Memorial Gardens
    4477 Main Street
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


We encourage you to share your most beloved memories of Elfriede here, so that the family and other loved ones can always see it. You can upload cherished photographs, or share your favorite stories, and can even comment on those shared by others.

Private Condolence

Birgit Dotzlaw

Posted at 03:55pm
Elfriede Dotzlaw Slideshow


Birgit Dotzlaw

Posted at 03:52pm
Eulogy of Elfriede Dotzlaw (Lutzer)


My name is Debbie Swistun, daughter of Reinhard and Gail Lutzer.
I am Tante Friede’s niece.

My family had the privilege of sharing many family dinners with Tante Frieda. With my dad passing away before our youngest son was born, Tante Frieda became the connection, sharing the Lutzer family story and family values for which I am very grateful. It is my honour to read the eulogy prepared by her family.

Peacefully, on April 25, 2024 at 5:45 a.m., after a valiant battle with cancer, and with her daughter Birgit by her side, Elfriede Dotzlaw (born Lutzer) went to be with her Lord and Saviour at the age of 88 years.

Elfriede leaves to mourn her loving family Reinhard and his wife Marlene and their children, Andrew and Emily and husband Nathan; Helmut and his wife Angie and their son Justin; Gary and his wife Teresa and their children, Katrina and Ryan; as well as her daughter, Birgit.

She is also survived by her sister Helma, brother Harry and his wife Cheryl; sisters-in-law Gail and Margaret along with many nieces and nephews.

She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 45 years, Rudy and her infant daughter Christel.

Elfriede was born to Rudolf and Emma Lutzer (born Kahl) on August 27, 1935 in Kurgany, Wolhynien (now Poland).

She was the third eldest of 10 children.

Tante Friede was predeceased by 2 siblings who died in infancy and in later years, by her parents, her brothers Rueben (wife Ida), Artur, Reinhard, Erich and sister Hilda; her great-nephew Ryan; niece Sharon (my sister) and brother-in-law Ernie.

She was also predeceased by her mother-in-law Olga Dotzlaw (born Lipps), her sister-in-law Alma Reisel (born Dotzlaw) and brother-in-law Lothar Reisel. Uncle Rudy’s father, Emil Dotzlaw, was sent to a prison camp in Siberia by the Communists for refusing to renounce his faith. He was never heard of again, and it is presumed that he died in that camp.

Like all people living in Europe at the time, Tante Friede’s life was greatly impacted by the second World War.

In January 1945, with the threat of the advancing Russian Army, thousands of people were fleeing Kurgany and the Wolhynien region.

The Lutzer family was among these people and were travelling West in two horse drawn wagons. Tante Friede’s mother and her uncle Adolf, along with 3 of her younger siblings, Erich, Hilda and (yet unborn) Harry, were in the first wagon, followed by Tante Friede in the second wagon with her father, brothers Rueben, Art, Reinhard? and sister Helma, along with their provisions and any belongings that they were able to take on such short notice.

Their escape route required them to cross a bridge over a river that lay in their path.

Amidst the chaos of so many people, and vehicles racing to escape, the two wagons became separated and then, due to the icy January conditions, Tante Friede’s wagon slipped off the road, and became stuck in a ditch. Not knowing that this had happened, the first wagon with her mother, uncle and 3 siblings continued on and eventually made it over the bridge.

As the Russian Army was rapidly advancing, the German Army retreated as fast as they could. In fear of capture, and in the hope of delaying the Russian force, the German Army detonated the bridge, separating the family.

The Russian Army then turned all the remaining refugees back who were on that side of the river, including Opa Lutzer, Tante Friede and her four siblings.

Although Tante Friede never talked about it in great detail, she did describe at one time, the horrific scene of the bridge exploding, sending horses, wagons and people flying high up into the air amidst the fire balls. A traumatic experience at the age of 9 that had a profound effect on her.

Although her father, our Opa Lutzer, was never part of the German military, the Russian Army assumed that he had disguised himself in civilian clothing and took him away to a Russian prisoner-of-war camp and that left Uncle Rueben to look after his 4 younger siblings at the age of 16.

The first wagon carrying Oma Lutzer and three of the other children, eventually made it to West Germany, but for 2 ½ years, Oma Lutzer had no knowledge of what had become of the rest of her family.

Uncle Rueben, as the eldest, managed to find places for his siblings to live and work. Tante Friede stayed with a Polish family, who treated her like one of their own children. She did chores on their farm, looking after cows, geese and chickens and helping in the fields.

Eventually, Uncle Rueben was able to find a Polish woman, who had 5 children around the same age as the Lutzer siblings and he arranged for fake passports. He paid the woman to get them across the border into East Germany where they would try to board a train to West Germany.

The Polish family didn’t want to give Tante Friede up, because they considered her like one of their own children, and so Uncle Reuben had to secretly sneak her away from that family at night.

Since the language most commonly spoken by the locals in Kurgany where the Lutzer’s had lived, was predominantly Polish, the children were fluent in both Polish and German.

It was essential while trying to flee the region and in order to maintain the personas indicated on their fake passports, that they not let on that they were German

Uncle Rueben pleaded with his siblings NOT to speak German. If the military found out they were German and where they were coming from, they would be taken off the train. Who knows what their fate would have been.

Tante Friede insisted she WOULD speak German and argued with Uncle Rueben. She desperately DID NOT want to leave!

The worry for Uncle Rueben must have been unimaginable, but thankfully, no one had to speak and at the age of 12, Tante Friede along with her 4 siblings made it into West Germany.

Birgit remembers Uncle Rueben, often calling Tante Friede, his “little trouble maker”.

In 1947, 2 ½ years after the separation and with the help of the Red Cross, the 5 children were reunited with their mother and 3 other siblings in Preetz, a town southeast of Kiel in Northern Germany. Their father, our Opa Lutzer, joined them 2 weeks later.

Tante Friede mentioned that when Opa Lutzer was released from the prisoner-of-war camp, the first group to help these men was the Salvation Army. They fed them, bathed them, cut their hair, gave them clean clothes and even travel money to help them reach their home destinations.

Tante Friede was so very grateful for this, and every year, for her entire adult life, she always sent a donation to the Salvation Army. In the last days of her time here on earth, she was also taken care of at the Grace Hospice which was built by the Salvation Army.

The Lutzer family remained in Preetz, until they immigrated to Canada in May 1955, following her brothers Rueben and Art who had immigrated a couple of years earlier.

The family settled in Winnipeg where they lived on Tweed Avenue.

Tante Friede talked about a dream that she had as a young single woman where she would marry a man with three little boys that she needed to care for. On a Sunday shortly thereafter, a handsome widower showed up at her church, who had three little boys. Despite criticisms, she never once doubted what she needed to do.

She married Rudy Dotzlaw, her life’s partner, on December 14, 1963 and embraced Reinhard, Helmut and Gary as her own sons.

They lived on Johnson Avenue in the Elmwood area until 1972, when they moved to Strood Avenue in North Kildonan.

They lived there for many years, until it was time to “downsize” and move to a smaller house and yard. They then moved to Pinecrest Bay.

When Uncle Rudy’s Parkinson’s and advancing Alzheimer’s disease, made it impossible for him to live in their home on Pinecrest Bay, he moved into the nearby Donwood Manor Personal Care Home, where he spent the last couple years of his life.

Tante Friede went faithfully several times each day to be with Uncle Rudy and make sure he was well looked after, and then later, to help feed him, as the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s Disease set in.

Tante Friede will always be remembered for wanting to help others and trying to make things a bit easier. She helped others whenever she could, whether it was neighbors or working in the church kitchen during special events.

Tante Elfriede was an excellent baker and made the best donuts, cinnamon buns, orange sticky buns, punshkin, as well as her memorable orange and black forest tortes. She once baked 12 large pies in a single day!

She made incredible almond half-moon cookies that Gary and Helmut would steal from the freezer, leaving very few for anyone else at Christmas. (Reinhard apparently pleads the Fifth)

Over the years, whenever he visited places in North America or Europe, Reinhard has tried to find these half-moon cookies that tasted as good as those that Tante Friede made, but to no avail. Hers were the best!

It seemed to her kids, that their mom and dad’s pantry had “miles” of shelving from floor to ceiling to accommodate all her canning – from pickles, beets and beans, to crab apples, numerous varieties of vegetables or fruits and countless jams.

Tante Friede was always busy doing something from morning to night, instilling in her kids a strong work ethic. Even when she relaxed, she was busy doing needlepoint, crocheting or knitting.

She made countless afghans, baby blankets, dish cloths, toques, scarfs and mittens which she gifted to family & friends. She also donated these handmade items to Cancer Care and remote communities.

Tante Friede had a very disciplined work routine:

• Mondays were laundry day, which often included drying everything out on the clothes line, even after she had an electric dryer.

• Tuesday was folding and ironing day. She even ironed dish towels and socks!

• Wednesday was what she called “The Maid’s Day Off”.
This would be the day where she would often take the bus to go shopping downtown at Eaton’s or to Polo Park to look for bargains – especially in the Eaton’s basement. She referred to these shopping excursions as her “Field Trips”.

• After a day off, Thursday was baking day.

• Friday was grocery shopping and house cleaning and the kids didn’t dare mess anything up after she was done!

• On Saturdays, she made sure that all had polished their shoes, and had their Sunday clothes in order, so that everyone was ready for church the next day.

Tante Friede was self-sacrificing – right from the get-go with her three little boys and then caring for her mother-in-law, Oma Dotzlaw while living on Johnson Avenue, and later, Opa Lutzer on Strood Avenue.

Tante Friede taught her children the importance of being careful with money.

She really knew how to make Uncle Rudy’s modest salary stretch to feed a family of six (including three hungry boys). Reinhard says that when he thinks back, he and his brothers ate like horses, but there was always more than enough!

Family was everything. Tante Elfriede really stuck up for her kids – woe to anyone who attacked them or falsely accused them! She taught her children never to give up. She always reminded them that “Dotzlaws don’t give up!” and she demonstrated that perseverance as well in her life’s challenges and in her Christian walk.

Tante Elfriede loved the Lord.

All her life, she faithfully attended the church services at the Church of God. When, in the last few years she couldn’t attend in-person due to health concerns, she watched the livestreams on Gary’s tablet.

She sang in the church’s mixed choir for many years and ensured that her children participated in church activities as well.

Reinhard recalls that one of his favourite memories was drying dishes while his mom washed dishes by hand after Sunday lunch. They often would listen to a Christian radio broadcast at the same time and he recalls how they talked about many important things over the years during that “precious one-on-one” time.

Birgit remembers that weekday afternoons from 3 until 6, Tante Friede always had the radio station on that played German music - “Musik mit Schwung, fur Alt und Jung” with Michael Heitmann.

Gary remembers when the family lived on Johnson Avenue and he didn’t want to go to elementary school, Tante Friede would sometimes let him stay home if he promised to help her wash the stairs.
She would then send him on an errand to the little convenience store for something she needed, but also said that he could buy himself some chips. More often than not, Gary would return home with his chips, but had forgotten to buy what Tante Friede had sent him for in the first place. She didn’t get mad, but he did have to make another trip back to the store, but no second bag of chips!

Helmut remembers how comforting it felt when Tante Friede took care of him when he was feeling ill, or when she patched him up after getting injured during one of his adventures as a little boy. It was in moments such as these, that he recalls feeling closest to her.

Birgit recalls that at Christmas time, her mom always took her to see “Santa’s Village” at Eaton’s and “Breakfast with Santa” at The Hudson’s Bay.

All of her kids loved how special their mom would make Easter and their Easter Egg hunts! She had to remind the boys, to please leave a few goodies for their little sister to find.

Tante Friede was a two-time cancer survivor. Unfortunately, with her third diagnosis in June 2023, her cancer was deemed inoperable and terminal.

Her family is thankful that she was able to remain in her home, with support from WRHA Home Care and the wonderful Palliative Care Team nurses until early February 2024, when she was admitted to Riverview Health Centre where she stayed until early April, and then she moved over to the Grace Hospice.

Tante Friede wished so much that she would to be able to go back to her “home sweet home” on Pinecrest Bay, but the Lord had other plans, and now she is in the eternal home that Christ has prepared for her.

The family would like to acknowledge Lori Penner, her Case Coordinator, for helping them navigate this difficult journey and for the wonderful care the other members of the Palliative Care team provided to their mom. They are also so very grateful for the care provided by the compassionate staff at Riverview 3 East Wing and Grace Hospice.

The family would also like to thank Friends Funeral Service and especially Harry Froese, Danielle Froese and Jotham Koslowsky.
The Froese and Koslowsky families were neighbours of the Dotzlaws on Strood Avenue, and Tante Friede babysat Danielle for many years.
Tante Friede was nicknamed “Mrs. Doubtfire”.

Tante Friede, you have indeed fought the good fight.
You have finished the race.
You have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for you the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to you on that day.

Your life was not always spent on the mountain tops.
You had to go through many deep valleys.
But now, you have reached the summit of the most glorious mountain of all, and are in God’s Kingdom for all eternity.

We love you.


Mathias Fruehm

Posted at 12:15pm
Dear Family Dotzlaw,

Our sincere condolances on the passing of your dear mother and grandmother. May the Lord comfort you and be near to you.
But she has arrived. No more pain and suffering. We liked your Mom. She was a good storyteller. She was a woman who liked
Deutsche Ordnung.

Thinking of you and praying for you. With love, Adele and Mathias Fruehm

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