Maria Pankratz died Jan. 14, 2010 at 92. She was born Nov. 23, 1917 in Schoenau, Russia to Jakob and Margareta Groening. When Maria was 5, her mother died and her father soon remarried, an adjustment she found difficult. At 17, after the death of her father, Maria left home to find work. She married Gerhard Pankratz Aug. 14, 1938. Three years later, before the birth of their second daughter, Gerhard was sent to a camp in Siberia. Maria never saw him again. During WWII, Maria fled west to Germany, where she was intercepted by MCC and taken to a refugee camp in Gronau, Germany. MCC helped her join her brother in Coaldale, Alta., in 1950. Maria was saved and baptized in Russia in 1942 when the churches were re-opened for a short time. In Coaldale, she joined the MB church, where she enjoyed the ladies sewing circle, and helped fold bulletins. After her retirement, she did less gardening and took up crochet. A fall and broken hip in 2001 resulted in a move to Sunny South Lodge. Later, declining health forced her to move to Coaldale Health Care Centre. Predeceased by 1 son-in-law, Maria is mourned by daughters Mary Regier, Elfrieda (Peter) Reimer; 4 grandchildren; 4 great-grandchildren.
Karla is a writer for Mennonite World Conference who lives in Winnipeg.