Birthplace: Neu-Halbstadt, Ukraine
Parents: Jacob & Helen (Bahnmann) Janzen
Marriage: Gerhard Buller, 1940 (deceased); Joseph Tessaro, Aug. 9, 1952 (deceased)
Baptism: 1943, Ukraine
Church Community: Clearbrook MB, Abbotsford, B.C.
Family: son Gerhard (Lynn) Buller; 2 granddaughters; 2 great-grandsons
When Maria was 3, her mother died, and her father married Margaret Warkentin Bargen. In the 1930s, the family was removed from their home in the night and found refuge with Maria’s brother. Her father sent her to work in another town; when she returned a few years later in 1934, she learned he was dead. Maria worked in a forestry camp and a maternity hospital. A year into their marriage, Maria and Gerhard mourned infant daughter Maria. In 1943, they and their new son left Sagradovka Colony with the retreating German army. In Poland, Gerhard was drafted into the German army, and Maria never heard from him again. She continued to Germany, and in 1948, immigrated to Canada, settling in Arnold, B.C. In 1950, Maria moved to the Tessaro farm to do housekeeping, cooking, and childcare for Joseph Tessaro’s sons. Maria and Joe married, and she accompanied him to 2 logging camps, where she worked in the cookhouse and caught fish. She was very independent until her stroke in 2011. Maria had a lifelong love of books. She joined Clearbrook MB Church, Abbotsford, B.C., in 1997. She was at peace with God.
Birthplace: Alexanderkrohn, Ukraine
Parents: Nicholas & Helena Dueck
Marriage: Henry Schmidt, June 1, 1946 (deceased 2010)
Baptism: Virgil (Ont.) MB, age 16
Church community: Leamington (Ont.) MB (now Meadow Brook Fellowship)
Family: children Henry (Laura), Carol (Rudy), Dorothy, Ruth (David), Lorene (Milfred), Tom, James (Kathy), Judy (Wayne), Bob, Jeff (Cheryl); 22 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; 6 step-great-grandchildren
Helen’s family immigrated to Canada in 1926, settling on a farm in Ontario. Helen worked 18 years with Henry in their Leaminton, Ont., grocery store. She spent 20 years bearing children and 40 years raising them. At 60, she began cleaning homes and businesses. Helen enjoyed quilting and flowers. She focused her life around her children and enjoyed family times together. In 2010, she moved to Leamington Mennonite Home. Helen cared for Henry until his death. She had a brain hemorrhage May 22, 2012, and died of complications.
Parents: John & Cornelia Block
Marriage: Edward Rinas, Oct. 20, 1935 (deceased 1966)
Baptism: July 1, 1928 by Henry Neufeld
Church communities: Hepburn (Sask.) MB; Waldheim (Sask.) MB
Family: children Della Fenkner, Dave, Darlene (Clarence) Elias, Tess (Gary) Peters, Ron (Bernice), Rena Bassen (Dan Mayzes); daughter-in-law Debbie Rinas; grandchildren; great-grandchildren
Nellie’s family immigrated to Canada in 1926. Nellie and Edward farmed successfully in the Laird and Hepburn areas. Nellie was courageous, setting the example of always moving forward no matter how difficult the circumstances. She was very active in church, teaching Sunday school and leading Bible studies. Her hobbies included music, reading, crocheting, knitting, and 4H activities. She taught herself to play piano and sang with her children. Nellie mourned son Ric Rinas, grandson Sawyer Bassen, and great-grandson Jesse Rinas. She held up her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in prayer.
Birthplace: Waldheim, Sask.
Parents: Walter & Elsiebeth (Dirks) Strobel
Marriage: Alfred Block, 1960 (deceased May 2010)
Baptism: Zoar Mennonite, Waldheim, Sask., 1957
Church community: Waldheim MB
Family: children Stuart (Karen), Greg, Lori (Trent) Janz; 6 grandchildren; 2 siblings
When Dian was 10, her mother died, leaving Dian with responsibilities that shaped her servant heart. Her father married Clara Kope in 1953. Dian commuted to Waldheim high school, where she met Alfred. Dian experienced a crisis of faith as a young adult, but at a 1980 revival meeting rededicated her life. Dian was gifted with seniors, working with homecare in 1980, and as housekeeper at Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Nursing Home in 1982, before becoming the home’s activity director for 20 years. She retired early to walk with Al through cancer, but continued visiting seniors and driving them to appointments, eventually taking charge of programming at Waldheim Pioneer Lodge. A natural mentor, Dian volunteered with young mothers, made bandages for overseas missions, worked in Bible camp kitchens, taught Sunday school, and played piano for the Golden Age Choir. Dian took joy in tea parties and sleepovers with her grandchildren. Diagnosed with brain cancer in March 2012, she never complained, but was a comfort to others.
Birthplace: Dalmeny, Sask.
Parents: Jacob & Katerina Lepp
Marriage: Henry P. Poetker, July 25, 1948
Family: Henry; children Alexandra, Helen, Alden, Henry, Ernest; children-in-law Valarie, Mary, Annie; 11 grandchildren
Amanda began playing piano at church shortly after learning to play at 7; she was still making her favourite hymns sound beautiful on the piano and organ at 94. Amanda studied at Bethany and Prairie Bible Institutes, then at Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kan., where she met Henry. Amanda and Henry spent 4 years as houseparents and teaching staff at Bethany. They left to serve MB Mission in India in 1952. After a year of Telugu study, they were stationed in Kalwakurthy, and spent 7 years sharing their faith in the villages. Amanda often brought her accordion. After furlough, they settled in Hyderabad. Amanda was skilled in communicating one-on-one and in small groups. Known for her homemade breads and cakes, Amanda supported Henry’s ministry as a gracious hostess. In 1964, Amanda and Henry converted the local middle school for 475 students to a high school for 3,000 students. Their final 9 years in India, they developed the radio program God Has Spoken Ministries, becoming cooperative broadcasters for Trans World Radio, and receiving up to 40,000 letters a year. Amanda and Henry retired to Edmonton in 1986, and in 1990, became associate staff of International Student Ministries Canada.
Birthplace: Kubanka, Russia
Parents: Kornelius & Elizabeth (Fast) Froese
Marriage: Gertrude Enns, Sept. 14, 1950 (deceased 2007)
Baptism: Hepburn (Sask.) MB Church
Family: children Sharon, Ken (Holly), Kate, Brenda, Patricia (Bernie), Brian (Karen); 8 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren
John and his parents came to Canada as refugees in 1930. He taught in and administered many schools throughout B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, and Nova Scotia. He became a federal civil servant, arranging training for many Caribbean countries. John and Gertrude loved to travel, especially to visit grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They faced life together as partners and friends. John enjoyed telling jokes and found joy in the everyday. After Gertrude died in 2007, John moved to Hearthstone community, close to his sons, daughter, and youngest grandchildren. Every day after Gertrude’s death, he sang “He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater” for comfort and strength. John taught his family to savour life, love deeply, and pray daily.
Birthplace: Landskrone, Ukraine
Parents: Jacob Dirksen & Lena Funk
Marriage: Anne Pauls, 1949 (deceased 1996); Mary Decker
Church communities: Clearbrook MB, Abbotsford, B.C.; Fraserview, Richmond, B.C.; Killarney Park MB, Vancouver; Bakerview MB, Abbotsford
Family: Mary; son Donald (Theresa) Dirksen; stepchildren Bill (Lissa) Decker; Jan (Phil) Thiessen, Chris (Tom) Lavigne, Sharon (Graham) Dick; 9 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren; 3 siblings
In 1926, Jake’s family immigrated to Canada, settling first in Arnaud, Man., then moving to Mullingar, Sask., in 1928, and Abbotsford, B.C., in 1936. Jake and Anne lived in Whalley and New Westminster, B.C. Jake worked as a bus driver for Pacific Stage Lines. He served as church musician, leading choirs and organizing instrumental groups. After Anne’s death, he married Mary Decker, a fellow volunteer at Mennonite Central Committee.
Birthplace: Agua de Pau, Azores, Portugal
Parents: Manuel Louis & Arminda Mello Franco
Marriage: Liette Filion, June 24, 1966
Church community: Église Évangélique Deux-Montagnes
Family: Liette; children Rachel (Stéphane Gosselin), Esther (Bruno Lavoie), Ruth (Evan Antouniou), Ézéchiel; 7 grandchildren
David accepted Jesus as Saviour at a young age. He moved to Canada at 18 and graduated from Bethel Bible Institute, Sherbrooke, Que. David served as an MB lay leader in Quebec beginning in 1970. He became pastor of Église Chrétienne (MB) de Saint-Laurent (Que.) in 1975. He began planting an MB church in St. Donat, Que., in 1976. David pastored the MB church in Charlesbourg, Que., from its 1982 founding till 1996. David died of abdominal cancer after a 5-year journey.
Birthplace: St. Catharines, Ont.
Parents: George & Nettie Schindel
Marriage: June, July 10, 1964
Church community: Linden (Alta.) MB
Family: June; children Ruth (Ken Allison), David (Sharon Miklos), Daniel (Cindy Harder), Rebekah; 14 grandchildren; 1 brother
Ron accepted Christ as Saviour at 9 and felt called to ministry at 10. Ron and June mourned babies John Mark in 1966 and Wanda Fay in 1968. They completed Bible College in 1967. Ron began pastoring Leeburn (Ont.) Bible Fellowship in 1967; a church plant near Sault St. Marie, Ont., in 1969; Parkdale Baptist Church, Belleville, in 1974; a church in North Delta, B.C., in 1981; Bethel Baptist Church, Sechelt, B.C., in 1989; and First Baptist Church, Nelson, B.C., in 2000. Ron was ordained with the Fellowship Baptist Churches in 1970, and served the CSSM board and camps. When Ron was chaplain at Albert College, Belleville, Ont., 1971–1974, Peter Yeung, a student from Hong Kong, joined the family. In 1997, Ron and June touched many families in New Zealand through AWANA. They enjoyed 17 winters in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and retired to Linden, Alta., to be near children. Ron had a gift for developing small churches.
Birthplace: Halbstadt, Russia
Parents: John & Margaret Unger
Marriage: Alvina Redekop, June 30, 1948
Church community: Bridgeway Community (MB), Swift Current, Sask.
Family: Alvina; children Lorna (Rod) Jahnke, Glenda (Jim) Robinson, Darrel (Sherry), Marlin; 11 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; 3 siblings
As a child growing up near Ernfold, Sask., Henry was good at trapping and hunting. After high school, he worked at a meat packer in Winnipeg, sending money home. He studied 4 years at Herbert Bible School, where he met Alvina. They farmed 5 years near Ernfold, Sask. They lost their first son Murvin at 8 months. Henry and Alvina raised registered Hereford cattle near Main Centre, Sask. He enjoyed being a United Grain Growers delegate. Henry was always ready to help a neighbour in need, with butchering or sausage-making. He and son Darrel tore down the Main Centre elevator in 1983–84, and donated wood to West Bank Bible Camp. He was a gifted Sunday school teacher. After retiring, Henry and Alvina volunteered with MCC in Akron, Pa., and Okanagan (B.C.) Gleaners. Henry’s hobbies included woodworking, decorative metalworking, and playing checkers and Crokinole, or whatever game his grandchildren requested.