Dorothea was born in 1936 in Chorzow, Poland to her Polish father Felix Sowada and her German mother Lydia Eichbrett. She last saw her father at the age of 3 when he left to go to war on horseback as a scout for the Polish army.
In 1945 Dorothea, her younger sister Melanie, younger brother Siegmund and her Mother Lydia packed all they could carry in homemade backpacks and left their home by train as the Russians were advancing towards their town. At this point in time, they were considered to be Refugees. The train they were on was stopped at the Czechoslovakian border and they left the train and continued on foot into East Germany and settled in the town of Nossen.
After Dorothea graduated from school she worked at the Railroad as a conductor. She gained a lot of knowledge of the train schedules, routes and also the border locations in regards to the train routes. Dorothea was scheduled to give a speech in a neighbouring town as part of a Communist youth group they all had to join and she recognized that this was an opportunity for her and her family to possibly get to West Germany. They all boarded the train with very few belongings. They did not get off at the scheduled stop in Leipzig, but continued onto a neighboring town where they disembarked. Unfortunately, the Authorities in this town were doing a sweep for illegal refugees and they were caught and jailed overnight.
They were to be sent back to Nossen by train to what would be an uncertain future. Dorothea was now 14 and her knowledge of the train routes and particularly the border between East and West Germany once again came in handy. She knew that the train would slow down before crossing a trellis bridge and this is where she planned to have her family jump off the train and make their way to the West German border.
When it came time her younger siblings jumped, but her mother was too afraid so she pushed her mother off, and then they ended up crawling on their bellies until they finally crawled under barbed wire at the East/West German border while under gun fire and were finally found exhausted but all okay by Friendly forces who escorted them to a safe camp. From here they contacted Dorothea’s Mother’s sister, Martha in West Germany who wired them money to take the train to her home.
While there Dorothea worked tirelessly for the German Immigration Department to help send others to Canada and eventually was able by way of a phone call to convince an influential Immigration individual in England that it was her families turn to get the opportunity to immigrate to Canada. Two weeks later, they left on a ship and the English official even arranged for Dorothea and her family to have their own stateroom on the ship. Even though Dorothea only had a total of 6 years of schooling she knew how, in a very charming and intelligent manner to get her way.
In 1952 at the age of 16 Dorothea and her family arrived in Quebec City. Dorothea, Lydia, Siegmund and Melanie all have their names on the wall at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Canadian Government established the wall to commemorate landed refugees.
They then took the train and arrived in Wadena, Saskatchewan where she met Ronald Fisher the son of a Farmer and they were married on December 31, 1953. As a young woman Dorothea participated in swimming, dancing and singing and she even won a Wadena singing contest. Together Ron and Dorothea had 5 children including a set of identical twins. They lived in Buffalo Narrows, Green Lake, Prince Albert, Uranium City, Saskatoon, Tessier and then Saskatoon again.
Dorothea got a job at the Eaton’s Department store in Saskatoon and quickly moved her way up to managing several departments including Children’s wear, Cosmetics, China and several others. She was also responsible for other departments in Regina, Prince Albert and North Battleford.
Dorothea retired from Eaton’s in 1991 after working there for 25 years.
After retirement, Dorothea and Ron would travel from May to September each year alternating between trips to the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts in their 5th wheel RV. They had a passion for hiking and there are not many hiking trails across Canada that they did not hike.
-On October 17, 1966 Dorothea received her Canadian Citizenship.
-Dorothea received the 2005 Saskatchewan Centennial Medal for the province’s 100th Anniversary
-She was a member of Amnesty International
-She received the Order of the Rose from Beta Sigma Phi-She completed the 1984 Brooks 10K run for women
-The 4th Annual Woman’s Art Festival in Saskatchewan was called “Her-icane Dorothy” in her honour
-She served as the Chairperson for the Saskatoon Fringe Festival
-In 1984 she was nominated for the YMCA Woman of the Year
-She served on the Board for Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan for 2 years and was VP for one of those years-She was the President of Immigrant Women of Saskatoon
-She was on the Saskatchewan Arts Board for 6 years and was the Chair of several committees while she was serving on the Board
-She was on the NDP Council of Federal Ridings
Dorothea was on the Board for 25th Street theatre for 17 years and served as President for 10 of those years. Under Dorothea’s leadership and influence, she and several other Board members were instrumental in saving 25th Street theatre from being permanently shut down and also saved the organization from the brink of insolvency. This new Board also “re-established the artistic principles upon which this theatre had been formed.”
-This story is captured in Dwayne Brenna’s book “Our Kind of Work”. Dwayne has referred to Dorothea as ” A wonderful lady and a real force in favour of all that is good in life and art”
Dorothea was well known in the Saskatchewan Arts world due to her long standing and significant contributions to the Arts in Saskatchewan and it always made her husband Ron Fisher so proud each time he was referred to as ” Mr. Dorothea Fisher”.
Dorothea was born in 1936 and passed away unexpectedly and quickly in her home at the age of 87 from complications with Diabetes
She loved to garden and continued with this passion right up to the time of her sudden passing.
Dorothea spent hundreds of hours proudly supporting the New Democrat Party in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Nationally.
Dorothea is survived by her husband Ron Fisher, children, Rick (Brenna), Virginia, Mark (Karen), Errol (Leslie) and Debbie (Al, deceased), 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
She is also survived by her sister Melanie and her brother Sieg. Dorothea will also be missed by many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Our Mother/Wife was determined, courageous and bright. She was an inspiration to us all and truly an exceptional woman.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday September 9, 2023 from 2:00 – 4:00 PM in the backyard at the residence of Mark and Karen Fisher at 3429 Arnhem Street, Saskatoon. If you have lawn chairs, please bring one.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to your favorite charity in the name of Dorothea Fisher.