Home Helen Irene (Klassen Unruh) Penner

Helen Irene (Klassen Unruh) Penner

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Deaths-Helen-Irene-PennerHelen’s family immigrated to Canada in 1924, arriving in Quebec and boarding a train to Rosthern, Sask. The next year, they bought land in Colonsay, Sask., with 12 other families and lived communally for 5 years. At age 9, Helen prayed the sinner’s prayer with her father. 2 Timothy 1:7 meant a lot to her. Helen attended school in Colonsay, Viscount, Guernsey and Borden, Sask., and graduated high school in Gretna, Man. She enjoyed youth group, where she met her first husband Jake, her Sunday school teacher at the time. In 1945, Helen and Jake moved to a farm in Chilliwack, B.C. In 1958, the family moved to Abbotsford, B.C., where Helen sewed bridal dresses. After partial retirement in 1967, Helen and Jake travelled to Europe, Israel, Asia and Hawaii. Following Jake’s death to cancer, Helen picked a verse each day; she never felt completely alone. Over the next 5 years, she took typing and bookkeeping classes and began bowling. In 1984, she fell in love with Ben. They embraced each other’s families, and Helen learned to fish. After Ben’s death, she and daughter Linda, also a widow, comforted each other with Romans 8:28. She sang with Bakerview’s seniors’ choir and volunteered at the MCC thrift shop. In 1995, Peter invited Helen for coffee and proposed marriage after a few visits. Their families too embraced one another. Peter died of lymphoma. Helen amazed the Klassen, Unruh and Penner families by remembering everyone’s names and birthdays.

  • Birth: October 19, 1922
  • Birthplace:
    Lugowsk, Russia
  • Death: October 20, 2014
  • Parents:
    Heinrich & Helena (Janzen) Toews
  • Married:
    Jake Klassen, Sept. 13, 1941 [d. Oct. 31, 1979]; Ben Unruh, Aug. 31, 1984 [d. July 1992]; Peter Penner, Nov. 25, 1995 [d. July 31, 2009]
  • Family:
    daughters Dora, Kathryn [d.], Lillian, Linda; 9 step-children; 27 grandchildren; 36 great-grandchildren
  • Church:
    East Chilliwack (B.C.) MB (now Central); Clearbrook MB, Abbotsford, B.C.
  • Baptism:
    Watrous (Sask.) MB (now Philadelphia), age 17