Source: The Abbotsford News, with additions from the memorial program
January 18, 1934 – December 14, 2018
Cornelius Dietrich was born to Mary and William Redekopp in Chilliwack. The fourth of seven close siblings, he is survived by his brothers Ervin, Harold and Len, his four children, Esther, Camille, Janice and Howard and his four grandchildren, Raoul, Takara, Norman and Sean. Dick grew up working on the family farm, graduated from MEI (Jr. Matriculation 1953; Sr. Matriculation 1954) and trained as a radio technician.
While working for BC Tel installing telecommunications equipment, he carpooled home from Northern BC with a young man named Larry, who wanted to stop off in White Rock to say “hi” to his sister. Dick and that young lady were married in 1960, and went off to Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto together, where Esther was born in 1962.
His adventurous nature stood him in good stead when he and Nina (who was expecting #2) and their young daughter crossed the ocean England in 1966, on their way to Africa to serve with the South Africa General Mission. A stevedore’s strike prompted his invitation to join a chartered flight the rest of the way.
Camille was born in 1966, Janice followed in 1967, and Howard arrived in 1971. Dick and Nina worked for 20 years in Swaziland, South Africa and Zambia with SIM, thereafter serving as mission representatives based in Abbotsford until retirement in 2002.
Dick loved a challenge; together with Nina he parented 30 missionary kids for a year, ranging from 8 to 18, when their eldest was 9 and the youngest was not quite walking. He designed and built recording studios, and over the years made and distributed many recordings that brought the message of Christ to otherwise unreached parts of southern Africa. He learned Zulu. He led his family with resourcefulness and flexibility – once they even moved across the country on a week’s notice, and everyone was on board with the change. An avid photographer, Dick was making audio visual presentations when that meant a slide show accompanied by music and narration. Throughout his life, singing was one of his favourite activities. He will be remembered for his beautiful tenor voice.
Considerate of others to the end, Dick was always looking to lend a hand. A loving husband and father, he re-aligned his mission work so that he and Nina could focus on caring for their daughter Janice when she was tragically disabled at the age of 24. Always the gadget man, Dick taught himself to use the internet and, along with his brother David, learned video editing and made numerous productions for mission colleagues and friends. He lost his beloved Nina in 2016 and is also predeceased by his sister, Elfrieda and brothers David and Bill.
Thank you to the staff at Primrose Gardens in Abbotsford and the George Derby Centre in Burnaby for their care and kindness.
Dick’s life was celebrated at Central Heights Church in Abbotsford on January 14, 2019 at 1 pm.