April 24, 1928 – April 16, 2021
Theresa Gertrude Soltis passed away peacefully at Rotary Hospice House in Prince George, BC, on April 16, 2021, shortly before her 93rd birthday. Theresa, the youngest of the nine Deroche children, was born in Mission, BC and was raised on a farm on Nicomen Island at Deroche, BC which was named after her grandfather, Joseph Deroche.
Theresa was predeceased by her parents: Isadore and Kathleen (Birmingham) Deroche and her beloved husband, Andrew Soltis, her spouse of sixty-three years. She was also predeceased by her three sisters – Margaret, Corrine, and Frances – and by her five brothers – Oliver, Thomas, Ernest, Desmond, and Wymond. Theresa will be sadly missed by her children Allen Soltis (Kathleen) and Robert Soltis (Carla) and her grandchildren Katie (Braden), Andrew (Susy), and Marie (Paul).
From an early age, Theresa did farm chores such as milking cows and driving a team of horses to plant and harvest crops. She liked to tell the story of riding the family’s herd bull bareback twice a day to get water for him from the slough.
When she was 17, Theresa went to Victoria to attend Normal School. She liked living in Victoria and was proud of becoming a teacher. Theresa’s first teaching job was west of Quesnel. Upon arriving to the area by train, Theresa was picked up and taken on a 30 plus mile wagon journey to the Webster Ranch at Narcosli Creek. She also taught in the Big Lake area and on the Jacobsen Ranch, which is east of 150 Mile House.
In those early years, Theresa taught in one room schoolhouses and occasionally had students who were almost as old as she was. Her duties included chopping wood, starting the fire for heat, carrying water, providing janitorial service and, of course, teaching.
In 1952, Theresa married the love of her life, Andrew (Andy) Soltis. They raised their sons, Allen and Bob in Hope, BC, and when the boys were old enough, Theresa returned to teaching. She taught at Silver Creek Elementary School and then at CE Barry and Hope Secondary Schools.
Theresa loved teaching – she was passionate about preparing students for their lives after school and she was an advocate for children who were struggling, putting a great deal of time and effort into helping them pass their courses. Theresa’s friendships with her “fellow” teachers and many students lasted forever.
When she was not teaching, Theresa was active in the Hope community, and had many fond memories of the times she spent with the Eastern Star and Hospital Auxiliary ladies.
After she retired, Theresa spent many happy years travelling “the world” with Andy. They both loved their grandchildren, Katie, Andrew, and Marie, deeply and took immense pleasure in spoiling them.
Theresa was sad to lose her soulmate, Andy, five years ago. As her health was beginning to deteriorate and she needed some help to continue to live independently, Theresa moved to the Prince George Chateau. She liked living at the Chateau and became friends with many of the residents there. Theresa held a special place in her heart for her neighbour, Joyce, with whom she was inseparable.
As has been the case for many people, the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for Theresa. She was a very sociable person and missed being able to see her family as often as she previously had and enjoying the camaraderie of the Chateau residents when doing Tai Chi, playing Bingo, listening to music recitals, and participating in church services.
As Theresa’s health declined, she received excellent and compassionate care from her physician, Dr. Ian Schokking, and from the Northern Health Homecare nurses who were led by Sara. The Soltis family appreciates the many medical professionals who cared for Theresa over the years and gives special thanks to the Hospice House “angels,” especially Cynthia and Mara. The family is extremely grateful to Rev. Alexis Saunders who prayed at Theresa’s bedside just hours before she passed.
Mom and Grandma – we know that you were happy to rejoin Andy and fully expect that you will be socializing, organizing, and teaching others for an eternity. All the people whose paths you crossed during your lifetime will have different and interesting stories to tell and your legacy of teaching, helping others, and strong leadership will not be forgotten. Go in peace – we love you and miss you.
A celebration of Theresa’s life will be held in Hope when COVID restrictions lift. In lieu of flowers, those who wish are asked to consider donating to the Hope Hospital Auxiliary in Theresa’s name.
God saw you getting tired and a cure was not to be
so he put his arms around you and whispered “come to me.”