On Sunday, September 11, 2022, Viola Catherine Pitschel, a tireless and loving wife and mother of seven, passed away at age ninety-six.
Viola was born at her parent’s home in the small town of Timmins, Ontario in 1926, and went on to live in many places across the United States, Canada, and the Philippines. Although her life’s focus was on raising her seven children, she relished traveling with her husband Ernest, and deeply enjoyed experiencing other cultures, from Europe to Asia.
After graduating high school as valedictorian, Viola earned her teaching certificate in Ontario in 1946. After her teaching career, she went on to be a lifelong advocate for literacy and educational opportunity. Her influence on the lives of those around her extended from North America to The Philippines, where she lived for several years in the 1990s, and oversaw the founding of libraries and schools.
After her father died, Viola helped her mother Lena acquire typing credentials so she could get a job and achieve independence later in life.
Viola was a force of nature as a mother, raising seven children across four decades. She was fiercely dedicated to the wellbeing of her children, and strongly encouraged her five girls to challenge then-prevailing assumptions that science and math were primarily for men.
When friends of her children weren’t getting the care and attention they needed from their own families, Viola was quick to welcome them with home-cooked meals and to provide the comfort and care they were missing.
Viola loved to play and watch tennis, and the joy she took in the game was undiminished by her frustrations with her own abilities. In fact, her sense of her own limitations only seemed to enhance how she marveled at the skill of others.
From a very young age, Viola loved to read and write. The inspiration she gained from reading books fed her determination to experience the wider world, and helped motivate her to push beyond the traditional expectations for a woman in a small town in northern Ontario in the 1940s.
It’s no wonder she believed literacy was the key to unlocking individual potential and autonomy.
Viola was a steadfast Christian who took great comfort in her faith. She didn’t abide preconceptions about denomination or doctrine, but always sought out the church with the most biblically-sound message, and the best services for her family.
Viola is survived by her husband of seventy-five years, Ernest Pitschel, her seven children, ten grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 24 at the Hood Mortuary Chapel in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, at 2pm Mountain Time. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Viola’s name to the World Literacy Foundation, or a literacy charity or public school of your choice. www.worldliteracyfoundation.org
You may also view the service at: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwpw28aBL-vTkqWycfQrTX6Xe-l4D6pPT