Dad was born on Oct. 20, 1933, in Ste. Anne, Man., the first of 17 children born to Jacob and Gertrude Koop. He married Clara Fast on Sept. 12, 1954. They spent over 64 years together and had nine children: Marvin, Elaine, Audrey, Karen, Darrel, Lucille, Waldon, Sylvia, and Reynold.
Dad had fond memories of being a cheesemaker in Kleefeld and Grunthal. He told stories of working at a sawmill and in the bush. Dad worked at Schellenberg’s store prior to and while attending Steinbach Bible Institute. He felt a calling to be a pastor and had a passion for learning. It was during this time that their infant Karen passed away.
Following Dad’s graduation in 1959, a teacher suggested he and Mom move west to help with a small church. They took this advice and travelled to Canora, Sask. Their prayer was if Dad found a job, it would be affirmation of God’s leading. Dad was offered a job that day. Mom said, “It was overwhelming, but we had prayed and God answered.” They stayed a year and then moved to Kamsack to pastor the EMC church for five years. It was in Kamsack that Dad was ordained into the ministry.
Our family then moved to MacGregor, Man. For most of the ten years in MacGregor, Dad worked half time in construction. He was also elected as EMC Moderator. Dad enjoyed the community and felt very positive about his work. MacGregor became our home. A vote of confidence for them was held. Mom and Dad both thought the vote would go well. It did not. They and we as children were devastated. The church leadership was also surprised and asked Dad if he would continue for another year. It was hard, but Dad agreed. Years later Dad would say, “It was good we stayed another year. We did not break relationships and continue to have friends there.”
From 1978 to 1985 Dad pastored the EMC Church in Vanderhoof, B.C. In 1985 they moved to Winnipeg; Dad attended seminary and graduated with a Master of Arts degree. Following graduation Dad pastored the Kleefeld EMC. He felt very affirmed as a pastor in this church. He told us about a congregation meeting where his work could be discussed. When they were invited to come in, they received a standing ovation. This was an incredible blessing for both of them.
In January 1995, we lost our dear Elaine. This was a very difficult challenge for our family. Shortly after Dad took the position of EMC conference pastor; Dad thrived on visiting many churches and people.
In 2001, Mom and Dad moved to Oasis, Mexico, to help with a new EMC church plant. Dad took on the challenge to read and preach in Low German. Dad’s early symptoms of Alzheimer’s were noticed. It was also here that Mom had a brain aneurysm. Dad’s love for Mom was evident as he supported her through her recovery.
Mom and Dad retired in Kleefeld. Alzheimer’s continued to rob him of his memory. One of his favourite lines was, “My forgetter is getting better.”
Woodhaven in Steinbach became their new home in 2012. Three years later Dad was moved to Rest Haven. The first year was very hard for him as he just wanted to be with Mom.
It has been painful as we watched his health and quality of life deteriorate. To the end, Dad’s faith was steadfast. His love for his sweetheart and his God was evident.
Dad passed away on Jan. 15, 2019. He leaves to mourn his wife Clara, seven children, 27 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren, eight brothers, eight sisters, and a large extended family.
We as a family wish to express our gratitude to the Rest Haven staff. Thank you for caring for our Dad in your wonderful and unique ways.