In the evening of July 21, 2021, Dr. Carol (Burkholder) Fick, C. Psych., took her last breath on a day in which she was finally able to sleep peacefully after a 22-month battle with cancer. She was 61 years old. Her family wishes she could have lived a very much longer, healthy life. Carol’s biggest disappointment was that she would not be here to continue participating in the growing-up years of her precious grandchildren, Patrick and Ruth. And yet, Carol was a devoted Christian and said her greatest hope, desire and anticipation was to see Jesus. While her family and friends grieve their loss, they are thankful for the end of her pain and for her new beginning in heaven, where God will wipe away every tear. They are also thankful for efforts and care of her medical team and many other support staff who assisted in her home.
Carol, third of four children, is the daughter of Dr. Joseph N. Burkholder (previously deceased) and Helen Burkholder (nee Witmer), medical missionaries in Ethiopia. She is the only one of the children born in Canada, in Scarborough, Ontario on May 29, 1960. The others, Byron (Melita) Rempel-Burkholder of Winnipeg, MB, Sharon (Doug) Peters of St Catharines, ON; and Geoff (Rhiannon) Burkholder of Thorold, ON were all born in Ethiopia. Carol spent nine of her first ten years in that country before her family returned to Canada, where her father was a medical officer of health for many years. Her love for Africa was fostered early and never left her.
Carol attended Grantham High School in St. Catharines before completing an undergraduate degree in Honours Psychology at the University of Waterloo and an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Saskatchewan. Her focused research during graduate school was on stress and job burnout in religious professionals and the psychology of religious experience. It was while she was still an undergrad that she met and married William Fick, her husband of more than 40 years. Their daughter, Sarah (Mathieu) Cain of Waterloo, Ontario was born three years later while they worked with international students (supported by Mennonite Central Committee and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship). Six years later their son, Anthony (Julia Keeping) of St. Johns, Newfoundland, was born while Carol was finishing her M.A. Her life was “full” during those years.
Carol was registered as a clinical psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Ontario and in 1999, she and her family moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where she practiced psychology for 20 years at Algoma Family Services. Carol also had a part-time private practice. The income generated by this was largely used as her benevolent fund. She used vacation time to visit African countries on three separate occasions. She gave workshops on PTSD and spousal abuse. She paid for professional and graduate-level schooling for African students both in countries on that continent and in Canada–most notably helping a leader in the Ethiopian church to get his Ph.D. in Theology at McMaster Divinity College. She set up microfinancing for women starting businesses in Tanzania and donated money to buy land for a church in Ethiopia. She did it quietly and humbly–she would gladly recount stories about her trips to Africa and her friends there, but it was unlikely that she would mention her good works.
Carol was also busy in the community: serving in several roles in her church, Bethany Baptist; singing for many years in the Chamber Singers of Algoma; and hosting many international students in her home. In addition to her love for family, friends and her God, she enjoyed riding her 750 cc Honda Shadow, saying it was “therapeutic”: the constant focus and attention required to stay alive on the bike pushed other cares aside.
During the cancer phase of her life, Carol became known amongst friends and family for her detailed updates. She wrote openly about the effect that cancer was having on her body and about the treatments she was receiving and their effects on her body. She often included spiritual reflections and always had a long gratitude list. She bravely endured much and remained resolutely resilient to the end.
For further insights into Carol, you may want to view the reciting of a poem written in her honour on the occasion of her 61st birthday: https://youtu.be/CgGFTlVD6mQ
Carol was loved by and will be missed by many nieces, nephews, cousins and others around the world. Her body is resting at O’Sullivan Funeral Home, 215 St. James St, 705-759-8456.
6:00 to 9:00 p.m., Tuesday, July 27th and 11:00 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, July 28th at Bethany Baptist Church, 1074 Second Line West, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
With regret, due to COVID-19 restrictions, seating for the funeral service is limited to family and a few invited guests. It can be viewed, however, at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28th - Zoom link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83625428525.
Donations can be made to and payable by cheque or online to Evangelical Theological College, Addis Ababa, Algoma Family Services Foundation, Youth Services of the Indian Friendship Centre Sault Ste. Marie or Canadian Cancer Society.