Aafje Kooiman

Obituary of Aafje "Agnes" Kooiman

Aafje ( Aaf ) Zee was born in 1923 in the village of Andijk, Noord Holland on Easter Sunday - the fourth child of Fokke Zee and Ebeltje Prins-Zee. As a child, Aaf loved to join her father in the tulip fields and preferred this as it got her out of house-work, which she notoriously never loved throughout her entire life. Aaf never shied away from sharing this with others, proudly hanging in her kitchen was a plaque that said “Dull women have immaculate houses.”  She cherished time spent playing with her eight siblings and her numerous cousins. She especially enjoyed playing ‘mother’ and being with young children. After Aaf completed seventh Grade in Andijk, she enrolled in a formal tailoring/seamstress course and was known to have a sharp eye for detail, passing this skill along to her daughters. In her teen years she worked for various neighbours and relatives doing childcare and housework in different locations in the Netherlands. Aaf met Jan Kooiman (John) and after a lengthy courtship they were engaged the Christmas of 1947 and married on July 1, 1948 in Andijk. As a new couple, Aaf and Jan decided to follow in the brave footsteps of her family, responding to the urge to immigrate. They embarked on a journey across the ocean to start a new life in Canada in the spring of 1949.


Arriving in Quebec City on July 1st, they took the train to Alberta with their minimal belongings and only a jar of jam, a bag of oranges and a loaf of bread. Upon their arrival in Southern Alberta, they initially worked in Picture Butte on a sugar beet farm and relocated to the Gleddie sheep farm in Tilley that fall. After the birth of their first child, Aaf expressed that she didn’t realize she could ever love someone so much. While expecting her second child, she worried she would not have the ability to love like she did with her first, but found her heart had the capacity to multiply and experience this profound love with her second, and all of their children that followed.


In April 1953, Aaf and Jan moved to Red Deer with their first two children, where they had purchased an acreage just north of the city on the C & E Trail. On this acreage their family continued to grow. Jan proactively enrolled mom for driving lessons and in the spring of 1958 she was the first of her 7 sisters to receive her license. This helped dad a great deal, but it also afforded mom a lot of freedom, unanticipated by her husband!


Throughout these years Aaf provided tremendous support to Jan in his business “Red Deer Landscaping and Lawn Service” and in running the potato farm. Aaf was known for her unpretentious hospitality. Nescafe and the sugar pot were always on the table, indicating a readiness to receive anyone for coffee and conversation. With a bustling household, a thriving business and a farm to run, Aaf and Jan did not get much time alone together. After supper while the children were absorbed with chores and homework, Aaf frequently joined her husband in the root cellar. This became their time for companionship and intimate conversation. Aaf and Jan treasured extended family and gathered frequently for milestone events.  Family was first for Aaf, and she made every effort to maintain strong and harmonious relationships with everyone.


Mom was a talented poet, sharing this gift at numerous occasions. Mom was a kind and caring Oma and will be fondly remembered by her grandchildren for making each one feel loved, special and being a good sport for their wild ideas. She frequently said to her family, “You can’t come often enough.”

Mom enjoyed working the land on the farm as it reminded her of the time spent working with her father in the tulip fields. The farm in the County of Red Deer provided a great place for family life and for raising her children. In her late 70’s Mom recognized a move off the farm was imminent. Through an ad in the paper, Mom discovered that a new senior’s development was being built on land where her parents had lived. The appeal of this was an answer to mom’s prayers, and in 2002 they made Legacy Estates their new home.


Our Mom’s richest blessing and desire was to be a mother, which she fulfilled exceptionally. Mom’s faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour was unwavering, and she spent many hours in prayer for her family, friends and for strangers as well. Mom had a servant’s heart and was humble in her Christian faith. She was involved in church life and volunteered for numerous organizations, which included: Rehoboth Camp, Meals on Wheels, Red Deer Pregnancy Crisis Centre, M2W2, Bibles for Missions, Coffee Break -- always offering compassionate care. Following Jan’s death in 2012, Mom remained in Legacy Estates and enjoyed much time with family, friends, and caregivers.


Left to celebrate Mom’s life are her eight children: Alice (Ed) Tiemstra, Evelyn (Brian) Martin, Peter, Paulene (Don) Kamps, Ruth, Miriam (Erick) Jentink, Frank (Donna), and David (Cheryl). In addition, Mom leaves 27 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, 3 sisters, 3 sisters-in-law and 7 brothers-in-law. She was predeceased by her husband Jan Kooiman, grandson Nigel Martin, her parents, and five siblings.

The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and her caregivers; with a special thanks to Dr. Susan Konynenbelt who coordinated Mom’s care in her late years. We are truly thankful that Mom’s enduring prayer to pass away at home, in her sleep with family members present, was answered on November 4, 2020.


Mom’s life will be honored and celebrated with a private service of remembrance. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only the limited number of guests invited to the service will be able to attend. For everyone else, the service will be livestreamed on Friday, November 13 at 1:00 pm (Alberta time) at https://www.firstcrcreddeer.ca/video-streaming.html.

In her honour, gifts of remembrance can be directed to Rehoboth Christian Ministries, Operation SMILE, M2W2, or Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre.


Condolences to Aaf’s family may be emailed to meaningful@telus.net.


Arrangements in care of

Meaningful Memorials Funeral Service

A locally owned cremation and funeral provider

serving Red Deer and all of Central Alberta






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