Brother Wilfred


Wilfred was my older brother who died at age 14, three months after I was born in August of 1938. He died in November.

My knowledge of him has come from other people, namely his father Peter A. Kroeker, his sister Mary and his cousin Peter J Kroeker, son of A. A. Kroeker, who went to Birkenhead School with him at Neuenburg village.

Wilfred was sick a lot, especially in his last year. He got tetanus from a sliver in his foot while playing in a wagon made of wood from Ontario where the germ was known to have come from. At his end he was paralyzed. Dad would lift him by the neck and he would be raised like a plank of wood. He died of pneumonia. Dad said Wilfred held me in his arms after I was born and said I should not be as much trouble to our parents as he had been, being sick and all. Later in life Dad often told the story of Wilfred’s death with tears in his eyes, describing Wilfred as the perfect boy who obeyed his parents and memorized Bible verses.

Sister Mary said Wilfred was often bullied in school because he had a cleft palate, and she stuck up for him, often getting into fights with the boys who teased hum. She was a tomboy, she said of herself.

Peter J. remembered walking two miles to school with Wilfred. Peter J. was not one of the bullies. He befriended Wilfred. Birkenhead was a one-room schoolhouse at the west end of Neuenburg. Grades 1 to 8 were taught there.

Had Wilfred lived, I would have had an older brother.

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