Category Archives: Obituaries

Ivan John Letkeman


Ivan John Letkeman

Peacefully on Sunday, April 8, 2018, with family by his side, Ivan John Letkeman passed away at the Lions Prairie Manor at the age of 88 years.

He is survived by his wife Kay, three weeks and three days short of their 67th anniversary; his children, Stan (Janet), Bob (Wilma), Sandra (Randy), Kathy (Barry), and Debbie (Ellis); grandchildren Jason, Pam, Trevor, Dustin, Derek, Branda-Leigh, Nolan, Angela, Raymond, Kelly, Tanya and families; 21 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. He is also survived by three sisters, Doreen, Eileen (John), Mary Anne (Henry), and sister-in-law Alma; and numerous nieces and nephews.


He was predeceased by his parents Henry and Maria, brothers Frank and Jake, sister Grace, and brother-in-law Johnny; and Dad’s in-laws, Aron and Anna Neustaeter.

Dad was born on March 23, 1930, south of Morden, Man., in the Mason school area where his family lived within the R.M. of Stanley. He was baptized on Aug. 14, 1961, at Morden Alliance Church.

Dad was a man of many talents. He was never afraid to tackle any job. He worked for a number of farmers and did carpentry work. Mom and Dad purchased their own farm and became dairy farmers.

In 1974 they sold their farm and moved to Portage la Prairie, Man. They purchased a truck camper and took a three-week vacation to Florida with their friends Dave and Lillian Sawatzky. That was the first of many camping adventures.

Dad was employed with Kroeker’s Vegetable Farm, Cobbes Plumbing and Heated, and retired from ICG in 1994. After Dad retired, he spent many hours working with Kelly Ronald on the Ronald Farms.

Dad and Mom loved to garden. Never a weed to be found! Their year was always immaculate. No blade of grass was left uncut and not a leaf was to be found on their lawn.

Camping and fishing with family and friends was a highlight in summer. Last June, Dad drove to Carman by himself (unannounced) to join our annual family camping weekend. We offered to drive him home, but Ivan had to do things his way and when he wanted.

Dad was never bored. He could be found tinkering in his shop or getting the sand point tuned up for the summer. He always had to have the greenest lawn and complain that he had to cut the grass again. And no one could cut the grass like Ivan.

Dad loved to go watch the children play ball, soccer, or go to band concerts. He had to know what they were doing and enjoyed visiting with them. Dad, along with Mom, volunteered for a number of years at MCC.

His funeral was held on April 13, 2018, at Portage Evangelical Church with Pastor Glenn Loewen officiating.

Thank you to the Regency Health Care for all the care you gave to Dad, to Portage General Hospital, and to the Lions Prairie Manor staff for providing good care for Dad during his short stay.

Dad, you are now free from pain.

His Family

Obituary: Judith Eileen Schmidt


Judy Schmidt

Judith Eileen (Judy) was born in Morris, Man., on Nov. 13, 1953, to Frank and Marge Kroeker. She received Christ as her Saviour at age five as a result of revival meetings. Most of her growing years were spent in Paraguay where her parents were missionaries. She was baptized upon her faith at age 16 in the EMC church in Lucero, East Paraguay.

She met David Schmidt there and they were married in 1972. Four children were born to them, two in Canada and two in Paraguay. They served as missionaries to the Guarani natives in Santa Teresa for 13 years, together with Anne Braun and Sara Loeppky, and were later joined by Doug and Sandra Doerksen.

They went through many difficult experiences both physically and spiritually. During an extended leave in Canada, they served as pastors of the Roseisle EMC. All these experiences served as preparation for the future HIV/AIDS ministry.

During the three and a half years doing church-planting in Pastoreo, they got to know Alicia. Because of family needs, they moved to Asuncion. Alicia’s AIDS diagnosis led them to start Alto Refugio, ministering to HIV/AIDS patients. The ministry grew and God provided the workers to continue the ministry to this day.

They retired from EMC Missions and began a new ministry for people living with HIV under Operation Mobilization (OM) in Ciudad del Este. After only nine months in this growing ministry called Conexion Vida, Judy was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. They left Ciudad del Este and the ministry to undergo treatment in Asunción and returned to Lucero in between treatments. Their passion for this ministry kept them praying for God to raise up workers to carry on the work in Ciudad del Este.

During her battle with pancreatic cancer, two of Judy’s dreams were fulfilled: they built their house in Lucero and they traveled to Canada to see her parents one more time. They prayed, believing that God would heal so they could keep on serving Him. He has the last word when it comes to complete healing, and He has never failed His children. His mercies have been new every morning; great is His faithfulness.

Right up to the end, it was obvious that Judy’s heart’s concern and desire was for the people she knew and loved to be saved and to meet them in heaven before Jesus Christ. She was released from tremendous suffering while in her home on Dec. 9, 2017. The funeral service took place in the Tres Palmas EMC in Paraguay on the following day.

Judy leaves to mourn: Dave, her husband for 46 years; her four children: Anton and Faith Schmidt, Marvin and Heidi Schmidt, Jerald and Daniela Schmidt, and Wendy and Samuel Avalos with their families; 15 grandchildren; her parents; five siblings and their families.

Her Family

Obituary: John D. Stoesz


John D. Stoesz

On Dec. 14, 2017, suddenly but peacefully at home, John Stoesz left to take possession of the home prepared for him in glory.

John was born on the farm, northeast of Niverville, Man., to Mary (Mika Schroeder) and David Stoesz on March 5, 1928. His parents predeceased him, as did his brother David Stoesz, his sister Anne and husband Peter Neufeld, his sister Katherine and husband Wally Pauls, and brother-in-law Neil Fast. He was also predeceased by his dear son Fred and a great-grandson Spencer.

John is survived by his beloved wife Ellen (Dueck) of 66 years, Fred’s wife Jolene (Klassen), daughter Marg and husband Kevin Wiebe, son Gerald and wife Kim (Bartel), daughter Linda and husband Mike Enns, and daughter Pat and husband Eric Boorman; 14 grandchildren and their spouses/partners; 13 great-grandchildren; sister Betty Fast, sister-in-law Mary Stoesz, Ellen’s family, and many friends.

He accepted the Lord on June 16, 1946, at age 18, and was baptized that same year and received into the fellowship of the Niverville MB Church. After finishing high school at MBCI in Winnipeg, he enrolled in Teachers College in Tuxedo. He taught elementary school for 13 years. The church very early gave him the opportunity to serve in the choir as well as in youth ministry and preaching.

In his heart he always hoped to spend some time in biblical studies. He believed, and often taught, that being a follower of Jesus meant a “lifetime of service.” After teaching at three schools (Linden, Arran, and Niverville), he left teaching and studied at MBBC and graduated with a theology degree in 1966. He was ordained into the pastoral ministry the same year and served the Kelowna MB Church for seven years, the Winkler MB Church for nine years, and then eleven years with the Braeside EMC in Winnipeg.

These were not easy years for the family as it meant several major moves, but Ellen and the children were always supportive and made the challenge much more pleasant. When he reached the age of 65 he retired because it said in the EMC Minister’s Manual that “Pastors should normally retire at age 65.” He retired because, as he put it, “I want to be normal!”

So what did he do in retirement? For 13 years he helped with a new church plant in Ste. Adolphe, doing much of the preaching and teaching along with a major renovation project. Also he followed his secondary inclination and took on the seniors’ ministry at Braeside, which soon developed into a choir that he named the “Keenagers” which he enjoyed immensely for a long time.

In 2011, already struggling with mobility issues, he was diagnosed with the beginning of Parkinson’s Disease. This “forced” him into retirement—at age 84. He had two guiding Bible verses that he lived by. As for the domestic things of life, he leaned on Matt. 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.”

As for his ministry, he held to Rev. 2:10: “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” He had a special prayer: “No greater joy can I have than this, than to hear that my children follow the truth” (3 John 4).

John’s funeral was held on Dec. 19, 2017, at Braeside EMC with Pastor Kim Stoesz, his daughter-in-law, officiating.

 – His Family

Obituary: Pastor Manfred Neff


Manfred Neff

Manfred Rolf Eugen Neff (Fred) was born on Sept. 21, 1946, in Graupe, Germany. He passed away at the Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach, Man., on the evening of June 10, 2018. He was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2016 and succumbed to the disease, fully prepared and ready to meet his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Manfred’s father Eugen had married Johanna and had a son Guenther before World War Two. Eugen served as a medic in the German army, was stationed in Norway, and became a prisoner of war. Upon release, Eugen lived with his family on the east side of a divided Germany and had to flee to the west after he helped a Jewish neighbour escape to the west. Later Johanna, Guenther, and two-year-old Manfred went through the woods at night on foot and by baby carriage until they got to the west.

Manfred followed Guenther to Canada, returning to Germany for a period to care for his ailing father. In Canada, Manfred worked underground in Thompson, Man., and as a carpenter before studying at Nipawin Bible Institute for two years and then serving as a pastor in Grand Rapids, Man., until he became ill.

Manfred and Stella met in 1972 and were married in 1974. Stella was an educator in various communities.

Manfred is survived by his wife Stella and his children, Eileen, Allan (Suzie), and Tom (Brandi). He will be lovingly remembered by his grandchildren, Samantha (Lenny), Courtney (godchild), Chantell (Jeffrey), Rachel, Tyler, Jace, Sella, Jaymin, Lyla, Jordin, Bentley, and Kashtin; his great-grandchildren, Taylor (Dallas), Tristen, Treyson, Lennon, Jaylen, Bianca, River, Jetta, Ryker, Sage and Piper; his great-great grandchild Nova; his godchild Karen, and special nephew Kevin and special niece Cheri.

Manfred is also survived by his brother Guenther (Rosemary), numerous nieces and nephews, brothers- and sisters-in-law, Herb (Iona), Ellen, Richard (Cathy), Ronnie (Shelley), Norma (Dave), Nora, Joanne (Jim), Dunstan, and Mike (Val).

Manfred was predeceased by his parents Eugen and Johanna Neff, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, in-laws Walter and Norma Cook, nephew Kashtin, brothers-in-law Donald, Ted, Klaus, Cameron, and sister-in-law Gladys.

Wake services were held on Thursday and Friday, June 14 and 15, at 7 p.m., in the St. Alexander Catholic Hall in Grand Rapids. The funeral service was held on Saturday, June 16, 2018, at 1 pm., at the St. James Anglican Church (a building that Manfred constructed). The officiant was Pastor Steve Martin, Anglican, with Noël Boulanger, OMI, involved with scripture and prayer. The sermon was by Pastor Ron Thiessen of Community Bible Fellowship, Swan River, Man., where Manfred and Stella had been involved.

Pallbearers were Ken Cook, Murray Cook, Dustin Murdock, Vernon Cook, Roland Moodie, and Darren Guimont. Honourary pallbearers were all of his friends. Interment was in St. James Anglican Church cemetery.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

His Family

Obituary: George F. Wanderingspirit

1935 – 2018

George F. Wanderingspirit

George F. Wanderingspirit was born on the shores of Demma Lake near the NWT-Alberta border around Aug. 13, 1935, to Joseph and Maryann Wanderingspirit. He was later christened in Fort Chipewyan.

George was raised on the Barren Grounds, in Fort Fitzgerald, and around George’s Creek, Alta., in tents and cabins throughout his Dad’s and his cousin’s traplines. He became a skilled bushman—even developing the skill to kill grouse and rabbits with a throwing knife.

George’s favourite childhood treasures were his orphaned twin wolf pups. A favourite memory was of effortlessly running several miles down the Slave River shore to trade his muskrats, minks, and weasels with the Norwegian homesteader Jonsson for homemade butter.

He eventually inherited old Joe’s line and used it the rest of his life, often along with stepson Ernie and with his sister Chigoo next door. In addition to being an Alberta trapper, George was a Wood Buffalo National Park hunter.

He developed a relaxed and pleasant pace to life, learning to enjoy every hour and day as they came. Every meal—rabbit, beaver, bison, or bird—was something to enjoy and for which to be audibly thankful.

Known for honesty and reliability, George easily found seasonal employments: a carpenter’s-mate in Fort Chipewyan, a sawmiller in Fitzgerald, or a faller in the park. He fought fire one summer with his Ft. Chipewyan mates in Ontario.

When Fort Smith was still the capital of NWT, many celebrities visited there. George saw Queen Elisabeth, Canadian heavyweight boxing champion George Chuvalo, and European heavyweight champ Max Schmelling.

In January 1988 George was married to the love of his life, Mary Nanooch, originally of Garden Creek, Wood Buffalo Park. Together they raised their cherished Tammy. Their great-grandson Carson and others valued their caring too.

In the cold waters of Lake Athabasca, on June 19, 1988, George was baptized into the Body of Christ on the basis of his faith in the cleansing blood of the crucified Creator alone. He was empowered never to return to the destructive forces that had caused him and others grief.

He deeply loved listening to God’s Words especially when read by the youth. His favourite verse, which he recently quoted a couple of times in Cree, is John 14.6.

In George’s last little speech to his grandchildren, for whom he never ceased praying, he described the many annual spiritual camps he enjoyed with other believers until bush camping became too difficult for him and Mary.

On Tuesday, May 22, George and Mary were in their home with their children and several grandchildren. As birds loudly began announcing the dawn that George Wanderingspirit was accepted into the light-filled Presence of his Master and Saviour.

George was preceded by his parents Joseph-Oldman and Maryann; grandparents Pamahcaahkoo and Charlotte and Tofild Gibot; uncles Amaap, Sammy, Salawi, Pat, Felice; aunts Skwiisis, Madeleine; brothers Alphose, Napoleo, Charlie-Skillet; and sister Albina.

He is succeeded by his wife Mary; daughter Tammy Ladouceur (Wayne); stepdaughter Gladys Ladouceur; stepson Ernie Ladouceur; grandchildren Owen Ladouceur; Ross (Christy), Byron, and Shannon Gibot; great-grandchildren Carson, Austin, and Sarah Ladouceur, Brody Whiteknife, Sean and Maddy Vermilion, Eldon Broussie; step great-grandchildren Austin, Tinesha, Brooklyn and Rose Twin; sisters Mabel Cardinal, Louise Castor (Billy), Norma Kaskamin (Kevin), Frances Paquette (Larry), Helen Wanderingspirit; and stepsisters Jean and Sara Desjarlais.

George was buried in the Fort Chipewyan Cemetery on May 26, 2018, next to his brothers Telephone and Nap and sister Chigoo. The officiant was Arlyn van Enns, the minister whom he had mentored in the cultural ways of bush life.

“The time of my departure has come. I have finished the course. I have kept the Faith!

In the future there is laid up for me the crown of Righteousness which our Lord the

Righteous Judge will award to me on that Day—and not only to me, but also to all who are looking forward to his appearing!” (2 Tim. 4.6-8).

Obituary: Helen Hamm (nee Borne)


Helen Hamm (nee Borne)

Helen Ann Hamm, nee Borne, passed away peacefully on Feb 9, 2017, in her home with Eldred, her loving husband of 52 years, by her side and into the arms of her Lord and Saviour.

Helen was born on May 24,1944, in Portage la Prairie, Man., to Theodore and Mary Borne of the Fork River, Man., area. There she lived with her parents, seven brothers, and two sisters. She completed her education at Mossey River School and then went on to get her nurse’s aide certificate at the Dauphin General Hospital.  Helen was blessed to carry and nurture three sons and one daughter.

Her love for God was evident, and she desired to show his love in many ways to everyone she encountered. Helen loved spending time with her husband Eldred, children, grandsons, friends, going for coffee, homemaking, travelling (especially to Cuba), playing piano in church, and loving others.

Helen is survived by her loving husband Eldred; children Bruce (Tracy), Bryan (Cheryl), Brent (Sophia), and Twyla (Dan) Johnson; grandsons Levi Hamm, Hanan, Micah, Kobe and Jacob Johnson; sisters Ellie (Don) Wall, and Laura (Ed) Hamm; brothers John (Sue), Art (Susan), Herman (Hilda), Vern (Marge); and numerous nieces, nephews, brothers- and sisters-in-law, and close friends.

She was predeceased by her parents, Theodore and Mary Borne (nee Sawatsky), and brothers Jake, George, and Henry.

A celebration of her life was held on Feb. 18, 2017, from the Norquay Covenant Church, with Pastor Arden Gustafson officiating. Interment was held at the Arabella Community Cemetery, which preceded the celebration of life service. Those who desired made memorial contributions to The Gideons International In Canada.

– Her Family


Obituary: Dick (Dietrich) Klassen


Dick (Dietrich) Klassen

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

Dad was born on Sept 12, 1932, to Henry and Maria Klassen. He was raised in a loving Christian home. He grew up in Rosenhoff (Riverside) near Morris, Man. He attended school there and in his teenage to early adulthood years worked for local grain farmers. Later he gained employment at Manitoba Sugar in Winnipeg.

Taking trips to distant relatives by train or by car was an important part of the Klassen family’s life. They made trips to Melville, Sask.; Hillsboro, Kansas; and Fresno, Calif., to name a few. One winter Dad was able to work as a mechanic for his Uncle Harry Friesen in Hillsboro. Uncle Harry led Dad to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When Dad was 19 he lived for a year near Fresno, during which time he worked for Uncle Will Friesen’s large-scale dairy farm. Uncle Will helped Dad to rededicate his life to the Lord. His commitment to faith and serving God was firm and he lived his Christianity to the fullest. He was baptized upon the confession of his faith on May 24, 1954, and was accepted into membership at the Rosenort EM Church.

In 1956 he purchased a quarter section of land in the Washow Bay area of the Interlake in the district of Howardville near Mennville, Man. He moved his parents and their home to their new farmstead. In 1957 he met and married the love of his life, Erna Brandt. On April 18, 1959, their son Harold Allen was born. Two years later on April 10, 1961, their daughter Myrna Lynn was born, making the family complete.

Dad and Mom lived on that homestead until 1984. During those years Dad had an amazingly varied life. He farmed, worked in construction and building renovation, completed education upgrading, taught grades five to eight in one classroom at the Mennville School and was also the school principal for the grades one to 10 school. He went into hog farming, and also worked for Parks Branch in Hecla Provincial Park in maintenance as a supervisor.

In 1984 Dad and Mom sold the farm and moved to Blumenort. Dad worked for Hanover School Division as maintenance and grounds keeper until his retirement.

In 2009 Mom and Dad moved to Steinbach to Fernwood Place. In 2015, because of a to stroke and dementia, Dad went into the hospital and later in 2016 to Red River Valley Lodge in Morris, Man.

On March 16, 2018, with Mom by his side, he peacefully passed on to his heavenly home. He leaves to honour in memory his wife Erna (nee Brandt), daughter Myrna Lynn, grandson Alan, daughter-in-law Margaret and her sons Rick (Alejandra), Jason (Destiny), Mathew (Mallory) and their families.

He was predeceased by grandson Gary in 1990 and son Harold in 2016.

The family wishes to thank the nurses and staff at the Lodge for their excellent care; pastors Barry Plett and Darren Plett and retired pastor Peter Reimer for visits and spiritual care; the congregations of Blumenort EMC and the Open Door in Morris; as well as family and numerous friends for prayer support and especially practical help for Mom during this time. We also appreciate the service and accommodation of Birchwood Funeral Chapel.

Until we are reunited at the pearly gates, we will miss Dad, rejoice for his victory and freedom in glory, and continue to live out the legacy and example of abundant Christian living that he has left for us.

The viewing was held on Monday, March 19 at Birchwood Funeral Chapel. The memorial service for Dietrich was held on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 2 p.m. at Birchwood Funeral Chapel, Steinbach. The burial took place at the Blumenort EMC Cemetery.

If friends desire, donations in memory of Dick (Dietrich) Klassen may be made to the Mennonite Disaster Service.