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Arthur Bartsch

Date of Death: February 5, 2022


Arthur Henry Bartsch passed away peacefully in his sleep on February 5, 2022 in Nelson, BC. Arthur lived well and loved well and his humour, generosity, wisdom, and faith in God was experienced by everyone who knew him.

Arthur learned to love the Lord and serve others from his parents, Henry and Anna (Funk) Bartsch. Their work as Mennonite missionaries had taken them to Bololo, Belgian Congo, deep in the heart of Africa, where Arthur was born on July 5, 1933. He was the third of four children but the first to be born in Congo and his arrival marked a shift in the family’s acceptance within the Dengese tribe as it was something the villagers recognized and understood. And so the chief gave him his own name: Ikongo Samu. Arthur spent his formative years in the jungle with his family, living a challenging but rich life on the mission field.

In 1938, when Art was 5, his mother left Africa with the children to return to Canada with a stop in Germany. The family eventually arrived in Winnipeg and Arthur spent his elementary years there, during which time his father traveled back and forth to Congo to continue their work. In the summer of 1943, the family moved to Yarrow, BC where they bought a house on a small farm on First Street. His father continued as a traveling pastor with the Mennonite Brethren Church and his mother taught Sunday School and German.

Arthur was a studious and curious child who asked many questions. He spent his hard-earned pennies on his first wrench, much to the surprise of his parents, and as a teenager took a keen interest in the varied activities of reading and building that would lead to great accomplishments later in life. Art graduated from Chilliwack High School in 1952 and began his studies at Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg. Arthur returned to BC to take care of the house and the raspberry farm but later rejoined them and attended Waterloo College, studying History and English. These were vibrant and energizing years for him at college which he recorded in great detail in his diary and retold to any interested listener.

After returning to MBBC for his third and final year, Arthur was hired as a teacher in Masset, BC at age 25. One year of Teacher’s Training at UBC the following year secured him a new position in Rossland and launched his life-long career of teaching. His love for learning and exploration led Arthur to enroll in studies at the university in Tübingen, Germany which served as a starting point for numerous trips around Europe and Egypt, years that Arthur described as the most eventful and exhilarating period in his life.

Arthur returned to BC and taught in Hixon and Chilliwack, sang in John Wiebe’s Motteten Chor in Vancouver and traveled on the weekends to Western Washington University to take courses toward an MA in History. He applied to the University of Chicago and was thrilled to high heaven to be accepted just when he was feeling very discouraged in life. He graduated in 1966 with a Master’s degree in Early Modern European history which set him up for his career as history professor in Nelson, first at Notre Dame University and later at David Thompson University Centre. When DTUC closed, Arthur maintained that anyone and everyone should have the opportunity to learn, so he worked hard to save the library collection and build a local university that would allow just that. Nelson University Centre was formed and offered university credit courses until it closed in 1992.

In the late 1960s, Arthur had the chance to rekindle an earlier flame with the love of his life and married Helen Boldt in 1969 at Willingdon Church in Burnaby, BC.  They started their life together in a small cottage in Nelson, BC and began building a beautiful home on the shore of Kootenay Lake, designing and constructing the house with great passion and ingenuity. They welcomed their first daughter, Anna, in 1971 and their second daughter, Greta, on Christmas Day in 1972.

Arthur’s commitment to academic life led him and the family back to Chicago to complete his PhD. Helen’s support enabled the young family to thrive during these three years, and later in life, Arthur marveled at the initiative and stamina it took them to accomplish it all. Arthur supported the arts and academics in Nelson in any way he could. He was an active member of Overture Concert Society and served in his church, First Baptist, in countless ways.

Helen suffered a serious stroke in 1994 and Arthur cared for her in their home for 21 years with unwavering loyalty. After her passing in 2015, Arthur devoted himself to maintaining his beautiful house, writing down the story of his life, and visiting with friends on the deck overlooking the lake. Those who shared his company were entertained by his stories and jokes, enriched by his philosophizing, and reassured by his faith. Art had learned to love life and found solace in gratitude and intention. He could effortlessly weave between existentialism and the fine art of sharpening a chainsaw. He listened to Bach on stereo at such a high volume that the windows shook. He took great pride in his daughters and loved them fiercely. His grandchildren brought him great joy.

Arthur was predeceased by his beautiful wife, Helen (née Boldt), and sisters Erna (Nick) and Lydia (Bill). He is survived by his daughter Anna and her husband Tim Poetzl, their three children (Benjamin, Joseph and Jane), his daughter Greta, and brother Karl (Evelyn).

Arthur will be greatly missed but we are comforted to know he is now again with Helen and resting in the arms of his heavenly Father.

A celebration of Arthur’s life and legacy will be held this summer in Nelson.


Send a condolence, light a candle and/or share a memory, click "Send Condolence". Once your message has been approved by the moderator it will be posted to the website.

Pages: 12

From: Thompson Funeral Services Ltd.

Thompson Funeral Service Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Juliet Genero
Relation: Friend

A wonderful man. I had the blessings of knowing both Arthur and Helen many years ago. Prayers to the family.

From: Lee Emory
Relation: Acquaintance

I remember Arthur when he and Anna rented our red cottage on our lake property at 4 mile.

From: Lee Emory
Relation: Acquaintance

My condolences

From: Dorothy Westnedge
Relation: Friend

Beautifully said. He is missed by so many. Hugs to all of you

From: Jeff Zak
Relation: Friends from the Baptist church

Authur was a friend to us and was a strong encourager. He gave me a biography of his parents work in Africa about a year ago, or more. He always recited the names of our six children and asked about their welfare when I would meet him at Oso Negro for coffee. God Bless the family with God’s Peace & Love during this difficult time.

Jeff & Marilyn Zak & family

From: Drew Danniels
Relation: Friend

Dear Anna and Greta, sad to learn of your dad’s passing. He was a great man and example to so many. Hope that you are both well and feeling honoured to have know your dad. Drew Danniels

From: Caroline Norash
Relation: In Rossland and Hixon at school.

I have known Arthur since 1959 when he was a teacher in Rossland High School and I was a student. He was a hard working, caring teacher and a God-loving man, with a sense of humour too. Later I discovered Arthur in Hixon when I began teaching there. A wonderful, multi-talented man.

From: Andy Shadrack
Relation: As a Notre Dame student and then later as an area resident living in Kaslo

Arthur had a love of education and a great caring for the people of Nelson and West Kootenay

From: Mary Lee Voort
Relation: Family friend

I am so sorry to hear of Arthur’s passing — he and Helen were beloved friends of my parents, Marilyn and Steve. Arthur was sincerely interested in everyone he met, and always remembered details about me and my family that truly astounded me! He was a man of great faith, a lover of fine music and literature, and a true gentleman. He will be missed, but will be remembered fondly and lovingly by all our family and many, many friends.

Pages: 12

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