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Maria Zacharias

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When Maria was 6 weeks old, her parents decided to immigrate to Canada. In Germany, their application was denied due to health, so instead, they sailed to Chaco, Paraguay, arriving May 28, 1930. They lived under a tarpaulin until they could build a cabin of felled trees. From a young age, Maria managed horses and heavy equipment. On village workdays she was assigned to clean and maintain the schoolhouse and the teacher’s residence. At 18, right before Christmas, she was left in charge while her parents went for medical treatment. Maria enlisted a local artist to create clay animals for her 9 siblings. Maria accepted Jesus as Saviour at an evangelistic meeting hosted by A.E. Janzen in Filadelphia. Her baptism testimony included 1 John 5:4. In 1950, Maria’s father died digging a well, leaving her mom alone with 10 children. That year, Maria’s brother left his job as a shop clerk to take over her chores so she could attend nursing school. She worked 6 years in the operating room. Maria married Johann, a widower with 2 girls from Neuland Colony, in 1956. In 1958, after the birth of their daughter, they immigrated to Canada, settling in Vancouver, where they welcomed 5 more daughters and a son. Maria always said, “What others could do, I could also do.” When she tired of using transit, she took a driver’s test and bought a car. In addition to running a home, she cleaned houses, provided health care to at-home seniors, and, after 17 years away from nursing, retrained in Canada to work at the German Canadian Care Home. When her own children were ill, she catered to them with tea and crackers. She made Christmases special; every year she sewed her daughters and their dolls each a new dress. Maria was a wonderful cook. After Maria and Johann retired, they travelled to Hawaii, Palm Springs, and the Canadian Prairies. After 46 years in Vancouver, they moved to Abbotsford, B.C., in 2004. Eventually, Johann entered Tabor Home and Maria, Tabor Court. Following 5.5 years with multiple myeloma, Maria died peacefully.



  • Birth: April 23, 1929
  • Birthplace:
    Siberia, Russia
  • Death: February 18, 2020
  • Parents:
    Peter & Sara (Block) Klassen
  • Married:
    Johann Zacharias, Nov. 10, 1956 [d. May 12, 2016]
  • Family:
    9 children; 22 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; 1 great-great-grandchild; 7 siblings
  • Church:
    Clearbrook MB, Abbotsford, B.C.
  • Baptism:
    MB Church, Schoenbrunn, Fernheim, Paraguay, age 17