Searching for information on the snowstorm of 1998, I came across this gem in the Ottawa Citizen in January of 1986. Gertrude Jessie Stanzel was born in 1913, but it didn’t matter how old she was — she was always a force to be reckoned with. In 1986, at then 72, even being blind, she had an acute sense of smell. In fact that sense of smell helped save four senior citizens from dying in a fire.
Gertrude Stanzel and her husband Stephen were preparing to go to for bed around 10:30 pm on night in January of 1986, when she smelled smoke coming from the back porch of their Frank Street home. Immediately she told her 76 year-old husband Stephen she smelled trouble. Stephen, fearing he could be engulfed by flames if he opened the inside door opened the outside porch door only to discover a large fire inside their century old home. The couple managed to escape in their night clothes along with Gertrude’s sister, Lilas Hines age 85, who also lived in the house along with a visiting neighbour Erma Rowe.
“They told me to leave without putting my boots on, but I knew there was no way I was going out in the snow barefoot” said Gertrude Stanzel. “I sat on a chair and put my boots on before I left.”
The Ocean Wave Volunteer Fire Department fought the blaze for three hours before bringing it under control. There was over $75,000 in damages, mostly to the interior of the first floor. Faulty wiring was the suspected cause of the blaze. Stanzel who was virtually blind because of eye ulcers hoped tor rebuild the interior of the home she had lived in for 45 years.
Life Story for Gertrude Stanzel
Peacefully at Stoneridge Manor, Carleton Place on Sunday September 20, 2009 Gertrude (Reid) Stanzel in her 96th year. Beloved wife of the late Stephen Joseph Stanzel. Loved mother of Susan (Terry) Ceaser of Smiths Falls. Sadly missed by her grandchildren Chad Eve and Shawna (Trevor) Weagle, her step-grandchildren Todd (Kimberly) Ceaser and Leta (Chris) Sheridan, step-great-grandchildren Krista and Trevor Ceaser, Kailyn, Trent and Davis Sheridan and step-great-great-grandchild Tanton Montgomery. Predeceased by her brothers and sisters. Step-aunt of John (the late Sally) Ceaser and Robert (Marilyn) Ceaser. Fondly remembered by her nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. Friends may pay their respects at the Blair & Son Funeral Home, 112 Beckwith St. N., Smiths Falls on Wednesday September 23rd from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral service will be held in the chapel on Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 1:30 p.m. Interment, United Cemeteries, Carleton Place. In remembrance, contributions to the Heart & Stroke Foundation or the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated.