We Remember

TOMM, Elsie

Went home to be with the Lord, May 3, 2015 at the age of 87. Survived by her loving family, daughters: Cindy (Ray) Redekopp and Caroline (Ron) Allen, sons: Dwight (Kelly) and Kevin, seven grandchildren, three great grandchildren and two brothers: Willie (Irma) Geisler and Leonard Geisler.

Elsie will be laid to rest with her husband Arnold at the Lakeview Memorial Gardens Cemetery on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 10:00 am. Those wishing to pay their last respects to Elsie can meet at the funeral home from 8:30 am until 9:30 am Saturday morning. A memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm from the chapel of Springfield Funeral Home, 2020 Springfield Rd, Kelowna, BC. If you wish to send a condolence, post photos or share a memory, please scroll down the page to the area called “Share Your Condolences.”



Mom’s History

By Caroline Allen


This is a short history of the life of my mother, Elsie Geisler Tomm. All of the information in this history was imparted to me by my mother herself, in reply to the many questions I asked her during our visits at her care home, since 2011.


My mother, Elsie Tomm was born Elsa Geisler on August 5, 1927. She was born at home in the small town of Bashaw, Alberta, Canada. Her father, Ernest Geisler, delivered her. Elsa was born just 6 weeks after her parents had arrived in Canada from Poland. Her mother, Wanda Natalie Geisler, had been seasick during most of the month-long sea voyage to Canada and had eaten little, so Elsa was born very tiny and thin. Her parents did not think she would be able to survive and did not know how they could look after such a frail baby. The nearest doctor was 80 miles away by horse and buggy, so there was no opportunity to get medical help for their undersized baby. At this time of great discouragement, a neighbor arrived at their door to check on them and convinced them that the baby should be given a chance to live. This tiny baby was a fighter from birth. She survived and had a strong constitution over her entire lifetime. She had to be tough all of her life to face many challenges and she rose to each challenge with the spirit and energy that characterized her life. At this period in history Canadian children with German-sounding names were mocked, so her parents changed her name to Elsie.


Mom never met her grandparents who had remained behind in the Old Country. She had a brother named Edward, who was one year older than herself and who was her constant companion, protector, and helper. Sadly, when Eddie was 9 and Elsie was 8, Eddie contracted diphtheria and passed away suddenly.


In Mom’s early years, homes, food and clothing were scarce. Jobs were hard to come by, so her parents packed up and moved the family to Prince George, where her father was able to get a job and purchase acreage of mostly uncleared bush on Cranbrook Hill. Her father found work helping to build the first Prince George Airport, and then later the larger airport closer to Cranbrook Hill. WWII was just beginning and the planes needed a place to land.


With her older brother’s passing, Mom became the oldest child of the family and was required to share in the responsibility of the farm and caring for the two younger brothers, Willie and Leonard who came along in time.


Mom remembered that her dad had a jovial personality and was a hard worker. He played the guitar. Mom remembered that her mom had very dark hair and enjoyed sewing and knitting. Both parents spoke German and Polish and taught Mom to speak German too. Mom did not have a long time with her parents. At age 14, she left home to work for her room and board and attend high school in Prince George. Her dad later passed away of a heart attack at age 52 and her mother died of cancer at age 54.


Some of Mom’s happiest memories were of caring for the cows, horses, and sheep on her parent’s farm. She loved to ride the horses. She grew attached to the family dog. She loved her mom’s perogies and enjoyed eating the wild blueberries, raspberries and strawberries that she found. As a young girl, she had to milk the cow, feed the calves, and wash the cream separator before leaving for school in the morning. After school, she had to locate the cows in the bush. When the cows saw her, they knew it was time to go home and would begin to head in that direction.


Mom attended Woodhill School. One of her favourite teachers was Mrs. Fanny Kinney with whom she remained in contact throughout the rest of Mrs. Kinney’s lifetime. After Mom’s high school graduation, Mrs. Kinney sent Mom a unique cup and saucer for her birthday every year until Mrs. Kinney passed away. Mom graduated from high school with honours and went on to attend Bible College for 3 years. After Bible College, she returned to Prince George and worked as a secretary to the Freight Agent at the Canadian National Railroad.


When Mom was only 12 years old, she had met a young man a year older than herself while skating on a frozen pond on Cranbrook Hill. This young man’s name was Arnold Tomm. Thirteen years later, when Mom was 25 years old, she married Arnold on June 30, 1952. They were together for 56 years, until Dad’s passing in 2008. Four children were born to Arnold and Elsie: Cynthia, Caroline, Dwight and Kevin. She also rejoiced over the birth of each new grandchild (there were 7) and she travelled a long distance for the birth of each one of the 4 grandchildren born in Quebec. Later, she rejoiced over the births of 3 great-grandchildren.


Over the years, Dad and Mom jointly owned and managed 2 family businesses, first a Shell Oil Franchise in Maple Ridge, and then Crystal Waters Resort on Kalamalka Lake in Oyama. In her 50’s, Mom studied real estate, passed the examinations, and became a real estate agent.


Mom was very frugal with her money. She would not a spend a dollar more on something in one store, if the same item could be purchased for a dollar less somewhere else. She had a sharp eye for quality. She had a fiery spirit and was never shy about expressing her opinion on any topic. She would have made an excellent lawyer. She would never quit an argument until she was sure she had won, sometimes using a text from the Bible as the final word. She was a true entrepreneur; clever and creative in discovering ways to earn money, and very reluctant to part with it. In contrast to her frugality, she was open-handed and generous to those in need and to the mission endeavors that became dear to her heart. She was also generous in helping her children and grandchildren get a start in life (and even a second start sometimes), although she made sure her children knew the value of money. At an early age, she took her children to the berry fields each summer, where they picked strawberries, then raspberries, then blueberries, until school started again in September. She became a field boss at a Blueberry Farm in Pitt Meadows, so she could oversee her children at work.


Mom had a real talent for gardening and for cooking and baking. She stated that she learned these skills by working alongside her mother. Her pumpkin pie, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns were legendary. Somehow, she came to be known as the “doughnut queen”.


She was also a great lover of music. She regretted that she was not able to have many formal music lessons herself. In the early days, there was little money and later she was much too busy with 4 children and a business to take care of. However, she took in boarders and used those funds to pay for music lessons for all 4 of her children. We were each required to take music lessons on two different instruments concurrently and she insisted we rise early to practice our instruments before school in the morning and then again after school. Mom drove many miles to chauffeur each of us to various music teachers over the years. She loved it when the family would sing songs and play music together. I am grateful for the sacrifices my mom made to give me this skill which has so enriched my life.


Mom’s faith in God was the most important aspect of her life. A few years ago, when I asked mom what she would like her children and grandchildren to know about herself, she replied: I would like them to know the Lord. She stated that she prayed for her family every day.


A number of years ago, when my mom could no longer use the printed music she had collected over the years, she gave it all to me. Among the many sheets of music, I found a hymn. It had been clipped out and taped to a larger sheet of music. It is well worn and marked in her hand. The pages are yellowed now and the hymn has probably long disappeared from everyone’s memory, but she must have been touched by the words and they are appropriate for this occasion, so I would like to read them to you. It’s called “Sun of My Soul”:


Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear

It is not night if Thou be near

O, may no earthborn cloud arise

To hide thee from Thy servant’s eyes


When the soft dews of kindly sleep

My wearied eyelids gently steep

Be my last tho’t, how sweet to rest

Forever on my Saviour’s breast


Abide with me from morn till eve

For without Thee I cannot live

Abide with me when night is nigh

For without Thee I dare not die


Be near to bless me when I wake

Ere from the world my way I take

Abide with me till in Thy love

I lose myself in heav’n above.


Mom passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 3, 2015, at 3:00 a.m. She was 87 years old.


NOTE:  This Service will begin at 1:00 pm PST.

Saturday May 9, 2015 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Springfield Funeral Home
(2020 Springfield Road, Kelowna, BC, )

Saturday May 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Springfield Funeral Home

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