So. Burlington / Milton - On July 7, 2018, after an extraordinary life, Gertrude Kristiansen, passed peacefully at her home in South Burlington with the same courage and independent spirit with which she lived.
Marie Corinne Gertrude Clavel Kristiansen was born August 28, 1924 to Jrme and Marie-Anne (Desjardins) Clavel. Most of her childhood was spent in the village of Ste. Sophie in the province of Quebec, Canada. She lived one year in Joliette at a home for orphans run by the Sisters of Providence following the death of her mother in 1928 - a loss that she carried with her throughout her life.
At the age of 11, she was enrolled at the Ecole Normale in nearby St. Jrme where she spent four years studying to be a teacher. Upon graduation, having not yet reached the legal age to teach, she requested permission from the Canadian government and received a special authorization a year later to begin her stint in education. She taught for two years and although she enjoyed her students, she realized that her talents could be better utilized elsewhere. At the age of 18, she enrolled in a three-month course of business studies and graduated with proficiency in typing, shorthand and bookkeeping. From the age of 18 until her marriage, she worked for various businesses in the greater Montreal area, with her last position being that of a traveling service representative for Bell Telephone Co. of Canada.
In 1956 she left her position at Bell Telephone Co. and set sail on the SS Nieuw Amsterdam for a three-month European tour. On board the ship she met her future husband, Erling Kristiansen, a Danish national. At the completion of her travels, she and Erling returned to Canada where they were married in Montreal on July 28, 1956. They settled in Frelighsburg, Quebec and lived there until immigrating to the United States in 1957. After a year in Swanton, they moved to Milton in 1958.
Our mom's family was her utmost priority. She worked selflessly, tirelessly, devotedly (and thanklessly!) for the next 17 years running her household and caring for her family. In 1978 she returned to work at New England Telephone Co. after our father became disabled. This necessitated her getting her driver's license at the age of 56! She retired after 11 years at the age of 65. Her retirement years were spent reading (her favorite hobby), doing volunteer work, traveling the world and spending time with family and friends.
Our mom is survived by her three children, who lovingly cared for her and had the privilege of accompanying her on her final journey, Eileen of Burlington, Poul (Makoto Nakura) of Forest Hills, NY and Linda of Milton. She is survived by many nieces and nephews in Canada and Denmark. She was predeceased by her husband Erling in 1985 and her beloved son Per in 1998. In addition, she was predeceased by her siblings, Madeleine, Jean, Jacques, Lucien, Suzanne and Fernande. She is also survived by her best friend of 75 years, Denise Metth of Laval, Quebec and special friends Dennis Gallagher, Joan Bergeron and Joanna Dague.
Our mom was the matriarch of our family and a true renaissance woman. She lived her life without fear, with indomitable strength, courage, grace and a quiet dignity. Her intelligence, good sense, self-sacrifice and compassion carried her through good times and personal tragedies. She was a teacher by example and she continues to inspire us. We have been truly blessed and privileged to have this incredible woman as our mom.
We give special thanks to Dr. Chris Hebert for the caring, respectful and compassionate care he provided to our mom throughout the years. He was her partner in her health care. Also, to Karin Hammer, Wayne and Laurie from Home Instead Senior Care for coordinating consistent and excellent care for our mom, often with short notice.
We express profound gratitude to the following individuals who cared for our mom with endless love, care, gentleness and respect, Eva Paquin, Heather McCreedy, Laura Zilnicki, Cathy Gidney, Amber Soutiere, Jean Toney, Inka Ryzio, Pam Clark, Darlene Isham, Tracy Lewis, Nian Wan, Suzanna Barton and Mary McLaughlin.
Visiting hours will be held Tuesday July 10, 2018 at the Minor Funeral Home from 4-7pm in Milton. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday July 11th at 11 am at the United Church of Milton. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Hope Lodge, 237 East Ave., Burlington, VT 05401 or the Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 683, Essex Jct., VT 05465