January 10, 2019 8:37 pm

Elderly Coaldale fire victim Elvira Dueck remembered for kindness, integrity

The family of a woman who died in a Coaldale fire says she was a vibrant woman with immense integrity. Matt Battochio reports.


Ninety-two-year-old Elvira Dueck died on Jan. 4 following a fire at her apartment in Coaldale. Coaldale RCMP believe she died from smoke-inhalation-related causes, but before she passed away, she managed to notify emergency services.

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“She was able to make the phone call, and they think she saved sort of the rest of the complex, prevented a lot of other apartments from catching fire too,” Elvira’s son Carl Dueck said. “The (Coaldale) Fire Department told us they were surprised she was even able to make the phone call given the degree of smoke and whatever that was going on in the apartment.”

It may have surprised the fire department, but they didn’t know Elvira quite like her family did.

“Sometimes she would do circuits of the stairs at the lodge,” Carl said. “She’d go, I don’t know how many circuits, but it’s a three-storey lodge and she’d go up and down and up and down.”

Elvira was not your average 92-year-old; she would even push the limits every once in a while.

“She came to me once and said, ‘I have to admit I was speeding along Highway 36. No cars… no reason I should plod along at the speed limit.’” Carl recalled, smiling. “This was when she was at about 90, so that came as a bit of a shock.”

Her family says she was direct and Elvira would tell others she wasn’t a saint, but you could never question Elvira’s character.

“She had massive integrity,” Carl said. “She was the kind of person that if somebody paid her back like a dime too much, she’d go and pay it back.”

READ MORE: Elderly woman dies after early morning apartment fire

She will be missed in the southern Alberta community. Elvira volunteered more than 2,200 hours at the long-term care facility at the Coaldale Care Centre.

“It was amazing to see someone who is actually older than the residents coming in to help,” Licensed Practical Nurse Jessica Smith said. “She made sure to come every day to help feed our dementia patients at breakfast. Really one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.”

Her giving was seemingly limitless. Elvira also spent more than 50 years volunteering at the MCC Thrift Shop in Lethbridge.

“Even at 92, her till at the end of the day was right on. She never made a mistake,” thrift shop day supervisor Kim Morris said. “She’s going to leave a big hole. I do the scheduling and [I’m] just going through the book and having to find people to take her place.”

In her passing, her life lessons live on through her family.

“Hard work I think is very important. Integrity, I think that was something that I learned from her too,” Carl said. “And a gratitude for what we have. She was very special that way, a very gracious woman.”

The Coaldale Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire.

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