John Hans Bierer
1933 - 2023
Obituary of John Hans Bierer
BIERER, John Hans
December 29, 1933 - January 28, 2023
Passed away on January 28, 2023 at the age of 89 years. Predeceased by his parents Georg Bierer (1969) and Elisabeth Drechsler (1998). Loving brother of Jakob (1998) and Elizabeth (2019) Bierer, Elisabeth (2016) and George (1976) Dimitrie, Theresia and Konrad (2017) Scherer, Erhard (2019) and Elfriede (2019) Bierer, Henry (2021) and Helen Bierer. He will be greatly missed by his 14 nieces and nephews, cousins and a host of friends who were his extended family. John was the master tailor at John Wittine Tailor Shop in Kingsville for over 50 years, retiring in 2012. John was a musician. He not only played the violin, he rescued and repaired them, one in a particular from an old barn. Uncle John your life was a sweet, sweet, unhurried song. Although your violin has now been laid down, your beautiful melody will resonate in our hearts and minds forever. Until we meet again, Auf Wiedersehen. Visitation at Gerald A. Smith Funeral Home 197 King St. W. Harrow Friday February 3, 2023 from 2-4 pm and 6-8 pm. A service to celebrate John's life will be held on Saturday February 4, 2023 at 11:00 am at the funeral home. Interment at Colchester Memorial Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made by cheque to Windsor-Essex Hospice or Bethel Pentecostal Church. You may send your online condolences to www.geraldasmith.ca
Uncle John’s Story
Born in the former Yugoslavia, in the town of Hrastovac, on December 29th 1933, John (Hans as named by his mother) was the third surviving child born to Georg and Elisabeth Bierer (nee Drechsler).
The war brought many changes and challenges. School was suspended. At the age of 10 in 1944 the family had to flee from their home from the Partisans, Tito’s resistance fighters against any Germans. The family sought refuge in a Serbian town but the Russian army was on their heels. By horse and wagon they then arrived in Voitsdorf Austria in the fall of 1944. Here John finished his public school education and at 15 years old attended trade school in Wels for 3 years. While his passion was woodworking, the opportunity to learn to make fine furniture was not available to him. So John reluctantly followed the recommendation to become a tailor even though he thought sewing was “women’s work”.
After 7 years in Austria, when John was 18 years old the family left Voitsdorf on February 25, 1952 sailing from Bremerhaven in Germany, arriving in Canada on March 19, 1952. Their ship landed in Saint John, New Brunswick. From there they took the train to Windsor and then by car travelled to Harrow, where they worked on the Buchanan farm in Oxley. The Bierer family built their home at in Harrow. In those days, there was a huge sense of community so many people came to help build the house on weekends. John reported the basement was dug out by hand and shovel. This home was built to last and so it still stands. With his carpentry skills, John did get to help make the kitchen cabinetry. He lived in this home for the next 70 Years.
John went to night school in Harrow. Presented with an exam on his first day at school, he surprised even himself by getting the best mark in the class. He said he studied just enough so he didn’t have to repeat the same class twice. He had to leave school in 1953 as his new job required him to work nights at Eastside Plating in Windsor. From there, he worked at SKD in Amherstburg from 1955- 1959 when he quit. With Henry Faust, he started a tailor shop in Harrow from 1959-1961. When John Wittine called John to help him out for a couple of weeks at his tailor shop in Kingsville, little did John know this would become a 50 and ½ year tenure. Here John perfected his craft and became a well- known member of the Kingsville community. John was always very well dressed exemplifying the high caliber of workmanship that was even sported by The Honourable Eugene Whelan MP and Minister of Agriculture for Canada. John took over the shop in 1989 due to Mr. Wittine’s health concerns. The shop was not just a place where John served the public tailoring, but a place “where everybody knew your name”. In December 2012 John finally retired from the shop but still provided occasional service to some of his loyal customers from his dining room table at home. On one visit to the house, within the past year, I saw what appeared to be a large metal car seat sitting in the middle of that dining room table. Uncle John explained this was actually a race car seat and he had the task of providing the upholstery for it. Even at this age, he was still expanding his services.
When I asked Uncle John about the best advice anyone had given him, he said “ Roll up your sleeves and get to work”.
John was a very intelligent, self-taught man. He had a keen interest in world affairs as well as local community happenings, politics and government, history, and geography. John was a huge fan of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, which created some lively discussions with other family members who were not fans. While you may not always agree with his opinions, one had to admire the dissertation John could provide to support his views.
John liked to travel to the warmer states Florida, California, Arizona. He enjoyed reconnecting with family in Europe. He toured the Middle East Israel and Egypt. He really loved his frequent trips with Earl Hernandez to Mexico where he was given the advice “Don’t fool around with the bulls”. My cousins recall Uncle John showing endless bullfighting movies when they visited Harrow.
John always had beautiful cars. Uncle John mentioned that he was proud of his first car, a maroon and white top 1954 Dodge Mayfair. He used it to pick up his first niece from Grace Hospital in September of 1956! My cousin especially remembers the Parisienne – he always had the national CBC radio station on in the car listening to interesting and educational shows and stories.
Uncle John would go to Windsor to pick up his sister’s family for holidays in Harrow. One time on Walker Road he was stopped by the police as they thought that he and the car next to him were racing. This was highly unlikely with so many children in the car.
John was a man of faith. He was baptized in the Lutheran Church in Yugoslavia January 1934. During the family’s time in Austria, there were no Lutheran Churches nearby, only Catholic, so they organized home churches joining the Pentecostal movement. Once in Harrow, the German Pentecostal Church was established on Herdman Street. John was a faithful member, treasurer, musician and caretaker there as long as he was physically able.
While Uncle John’s home was always open to hospitality, following in his mother’s footsteps, he may have strayed a bit off the path from earning the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”. But that makes me think of the story in the bible of Jesus’ friends Martha and Mary. Martha was concerned about the domestic affairs, whereas Mary made the better choice to sit and learn at the feet of Jesus. Uncle John was more like Mary. What he learned at the feet of Jesus, he applied to his path in life. His friends have said over and over what a wonderful, kind, giving, loving and faithful man he was. He lived out his life lesson of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He followed the greatest commandments, love God and love your neighbour as yourself.
John ate out frequently and enjoyed that time with the large community of his friends at the Church, the Chuckwagon, Vern’s, Shep’s, Danielle’s, Heritage Museum, John’s Place, Yvonne and Leonard’s on Tuesdays and in his home for Friday night BBQ. I am sure I would forget someone if I tried to mention all of you. Thank you for your love in being his extended family.
John is survived by his sister Theresa Scherer of Kitchener and sister-in-law Helen Bierer of Leamington.
Predeceased by, and now reunited with, his parents Elisabeth and Georg Bierer, Brother Jakob and wife Elizabeth Bierer, Sister Elisabeth and husband George Dimitrie, Brother-in-law Konrad Scherer husband of Theresa, Brother Erhard and wife Elfriede Bierer, and Brother Henry Bierer, husband of Helen.
He will be greatly missed by his 14 nieces and nephews, his cousins, and a host of friends.
John was a musician. He not only played the violin, he rescued and repaired them, one in particular from an old barn.
Uncle John your life has been a sweet, sweet, unhurried song. Although your violin has now been laid down, your beautiful melody will resonate in our hearts and minds forever. Until we meet again, Auf Wiedersehen.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Bierer, please visit Tribute Store