With great sadness we share the passing of our mother and grandmother, Jenny Mathilda Myllymaki (Lindfors). Jenny lived 92 years (March 14, 1928 to June 6, 2020). Born in Kauhajoki, Finland to Emil and Josefina Lindfors’ family, she was the 3rd youngest of 12 children. The Lindfors family dealt with death and change, losing 3 infants from 1920 to 1931, then father Emil passed away in 1933 and five years later in 1938 mother Josefina passed away.
Jenny was an orphan at 10 years old and placed with her older brother and wife in Kauhajoki, a short distance from the family farm. Her brother was later killed in the war, leaving Jenny to be placed in a foster home. All Lindfors siblings grew up in and around Kauhajoki, Finland, and although they were separated, they remained close.
When she was in her early twenties Jenny moved to Sweden for work, where she lived for several years with her first love, Matt Myllymaki. In 1952, Jenny’s son Lars was born in Stockholm. Later that year they traveled by boat to Canada, arriving at Halifax Pier 21 in early 1953. Not daunted, Jenny and young Lars traveled by rail to Edmonton in February, 1953.
After a couple of years in Edmonton, a new baby Margaret was born. She died years later in Edmonton due to health issues. When Jenny separated from Matt, she moved to Prince George with Lars and soon thereafter gave birth to Susan, in January 1957. In Prince George Jenny cooked and managed a steakhouse and met Heinz, a German logger. In the fall of 1958, Ingrid was born. After a year, Jenny packed up her young family and moved to Fort Nelson for work. Her focus was primarily on making enough money to look after her children and stay together. In Fort Nelson she worked as a cook, at the hospital, at hotel restaurants, and then her own café, called Jenny’s Café. Raising her three children in Fort Nelson over the next 7 years, she saved enough to move to the big city of Fort St John. In 1967 Jenny took over the newly renovated restaurant at Tompkins, Mile 54. Her fine cooking was known in the north, and Jenny’s Café was a bustling eatery for many years.
In 1972, Jenny moved up to Whitehorse with Susan and Ingrid where she operated several busy restaurants. After a few years in the Yukon she took a job cooking up in Hay River on a tug boat. She loved water and boating. Then she landed her dream job, working in Vancouver on a tug boat for Crown Zellerbach, cooking for a small crew and traveling up and down the Pacific coast line. After 6-8 years working for Crown Zellerback and Seaspan, she was injured in 1983 just off the coast of BC near the Queen Charlottes. The tug boat was caught in a storm, rough water tossing her around below deck. Injured badly, she was transported by helicopter to Vancouver General for treatment. Following this accident and many surgeries, Jenny underwent continuous doctors’ care for years, which put an end to her cooking career.
After retiring and living in Vancouver for years, in 2007 it was time for her to move back to Fort St John to be cared for by her children and grandchildren. Many family get-togethers, visiting, laughing and playing cards were spent with grandkids, daughters, her son and sons-in-law. These were full and fun years. Jenny lived at Heritage Manor and then the Peace Villa Care Home. Jenny was well cared for by many health care workers who would comment on her good nature and kind disposition.
Jenny loved her family. She was a fiercely committed single mom, a proud woman, mother and grandmother. There was no room for mediocre workmanship in her house, and she would let you know if it was not good enough. Although serious at times, she was more often laughing and joking around. Her sparkly blue eyes were a dead give-away something was stirring in that mind of hers. She loved to play with her grandchildren and would make them laugh, acting like a kid herself so everyone had fun. Despite her small frame, she was never to be underestimated. An intelligent woman, feisty and determined, she knew exactly what she wanted. She might mispronounce something yet could still communicate the most impactful message. A long standing friend remembers Jenny for being a remarkable and successful business woman at a time when women in business were rare. She was a true leader, and many relied upon her leadership in the restaurant and in the kitchen. Her perseverance helped her through the harsh realities of living and working in the north. She had stamina and a sense of courage that was mixed with the perfect blend of humour. Jenny was a true Viking maiden, a wonderful example of being in charge of one’s life. She was truly “one-of-a-kind”.
Jenny was predeceased by her parents, Emil and Josefina Lindfors, all 11 siblings, her son, Lars and daughter, Margaret. She is survived by and will be greatly missed by her family: her daughters Susan Hughes (Gary) and Ingrid Jeannotte (Vic), ex Heinz Meichsner, grandchildren Karess Timpany (Dave), Karlene Duncan (Cam), Kara Myllymaki-Barrows (Steve), Cy Hughes (Brittany), Jody Boutilier (Eric), Desirae Jeannotte (Luke Teeter), Evan Jeannotte, Natalie Williams (Steven), great-grandchildren Brooke and Kiley Timpany, Austin and Russell Duncan, Marina, Kesney and Sylvie Myllymaki-Barrows, Kaustin and Dylan Hughes, Brodyn Boutilier, Iyla and Grace Teeter, Jake Williams. And many nieces and nephews in Finland.
The family wishes to extend gratitude to those who cared for Jenny in her later years, a special thank you to Dr. Coata, all of our nurses and care support workers at Peace Villa & Heritage Manor.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Fort St John Hospital Foundation or Peace Villa Care Home.
Celebration of Life at 1PM on July 25, 2020 please join family by visiting the live stream link below.
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