Category Archives: Obituaries

Obituary: Ben Eidse

1928-2018

SBCPrezBenEidse
Ben Eidse

Ben Friesen Eidse was born on Oct. 12, 1928, to D.K and Elizabeth Eidse of Rosenort, Man., the twelfth of 20 children. He was the last surviving child and completed the circle in heaven on April 25, 2018, surrounded by family and friends on earth.

In 1949, Ben went to Pelly, Sask., under Western Gospel Mission, pedaling a bicycle to teach Bible classes in schools and adding cottage services.

He married Helen Reimer on March 30, 1952, after she completed nurse’s training. Their first of four daughters, Hope, arrived in 1953, the year they went to Congo as the first overseas missionaries of the EMC Board of Missions under (now) Africa Inter Mennonite Mission.

The Eidses built a medical-church-education centre in Kamayala, where they learned the heart language of the Lunda-Chokwe people.

Faith was born in 1955, the day Helen’s father, Peter D. Reimer, died in Canada. Six months later Faith was given up for dead. Ben begged God to bring her back and her eyes opened.

Charity arrived on Oct. 28, 1956, weighing nine pounds, and Helen’s kidneys shut down. While in hospice, Ben read her James 5:16, but realized that he was the one with sins to confess. He raced back to the men building the Kamayala church and apologized for getting angry. They said a white man had never admitted doing wrong and never apologized. When Ben returned, Helen’s kidneys were working again.

Eidse received a BA from Goshen College in 1959, followed by an MA from Wheaton. He returned to Congo alone in 1961, during tribal conflict, and delivered food and services. Over 600 came for counseling, including 31 chiefs.

Grace was born on Nov. 25, 1961, and the family returned to Congo in 1963, just before the 1964 Simba revolution. Ben sent his family ahead to Kinshasa and filled his van with students, driving through battle lines to safety.

After the conflict, Ben created a scripture memory program, changing the character of entire villages. During this term Ben sustained a progressively crippling, spinal cord/neck injury.

In 1969, Ben was selected by American Bible Societies to translate the Bible into modern Chokwe. Working with a pastor and a folklorist, they completed work in 1982. Native speakers loved the more dynamic expressions when praying or talking about God. The translation team also wrote a lesson book on the Christian disciple’s response to sorcery, which continues to change people’s worldview today.

After 30 years in Congo, Eidse was appointed president of Steinbach Bible College. He led its accreditation to a four-year college, a significant expansion, and a debt-free budget. In 1992, he was accepted to the University of Edinburgh, where he completed courses for a doctoral degree.

However, in 1995, Helen suffered a stroke and Ben cared for her in Steinbach for 16 years. During this time he became SBC’s first chancellor and counselled many people in a healing prayer ministry.

The Eidses received a Lifetime Service Award from the Association of Anabaptist-Mennonite Missiologists for leading Bible translation, planting 100 churches and establishing a mission centre in Congo. Their life stories were published in Light the World (Friesen Press, 2012). In 2015 Ben published his thesis research, The Disciple and Sorcery: The Lunda-Chokwe View (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

Eidse returned to Congo for two months in 2010 to commemorate Helen’s life and encourage believers in prayers for healing and promoting women in church leadership.

Ben is survived by daughters Hope (Ben Wiebe), Faith (Philip Kuhns), Charity (John Schellenberg), and Grace Eidse, and their families. He was remembered in services at Rosenort EMC and Steinbach EMC on April 28 and 29 (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SiQ_aYe6wbs), and laid to rest beside his wife in the Steinbach Heritage Cemetery. A mighty wind blew, assuring survivors of the Spirit’s continuing power in their lives.

His Family

 

 

 

Obituary: Albert Klassen

1927-2017

Albert-Klausen
Albert Klassen

It has pleased our Heavenly Father to take home his servant, Albert Klassen, at the age of 90.

Albert was born near Gouldtown, Sask., on Feb. 24, 1927, to John D. and Margaret (nee Schellenberg) Klassen. He was raised on a grain farm until age seven, then moved to Carrot River, Sask., in a covered wagon. At age 10, he moved again in Dec. 1937 when his parents took up a homestead at Orley, Sask..

He attended Motion School until age 14. Then he went to work cutting cords of wood at home in the morning, and brought wood to the store in the afternoon. He did this in exchange for groceries.

Albert met Marie Doerksen when he was 17. They were baptized, then married in the Anglican Church on Oct. 5, 1946, in Tisdale, Sask. Albert and Marie raised five children: Audrey, Rosalie, Donald, Marvin, and Glen. The family moved to Burns Lake, B.C., in 1953 and this was home for the rest of their lives.

Albert accepted the Lord after attending revival meetings and served his God faithfully. He enjoyed a variety of jobs. In retirement spent many hours volunteering at the Pines Care Home and picking up litter in town. He took pride in clean streets. He also enjoyed woodworking hobbies such as building birdhouses and windmills. He spent many hours helping cut blanket squares for MCC.

Albert’s 90th birthday was initially celebrated with his family, and then again with his church family the next day. On April 15, 2017, he broke his hip and had surgery. He never really recovered from the accident and spent six months in hospital while waiting to move into the Pines. His health deteriorated until he passed away on Oct. 27, 2017. Albert was pre-deceased by his wife Marie on Aug. 5, 2012.

His Family

 

Walter George Kruse

1945-2017

Walter-Kruse
Walter Kruse

Walter George Kruse was born on Jan. 1, 1945, in Teulon, Man., to George and Helen (nee Dyck) Kruse. At home in Inwood they spoke German—until he started school in 1950, running at recess from the post-war playground bullies who did not appreciate his German ancestry. His mother’s Russian Mennonite faith did not encourage him to fight back.

In 1956 the family moved to Brandon to operate a restaurant for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and in 1960 was transferred to Moose Jaw, Sask. Walter and his younger brother Alfred rode the trains selling drinks and sandwiches. That fall he returned to Brandon for high school. Alfred urged him to attend a Crusade where he heard the good news about Jesus Christ and believed it.

In 1964 Walter dropped out of his mechanics course for several months of solo bicycle backpack travels across Europe, visiting his father’s family. The next year he attended Steinbach Bible Institute to make up for his high school deficiencies, and met EMCers for the first time.

In the fall of 1966 he was in Teachers College in Brandon when he met nursing student Anne Martens at a birthday party. He was baptized by the Kola EMC and they were married on Aug. 12, 1967. Children born to this union were David, Krista , Erika, Rolf, and Paul.

While working and being a husband and father, he continued to study at Brandon University, graduating in 1978. He did not use his education to belittle those who had less, but to enlarge their view of the world. He taught school in The Pas, Churchill, Kola, Virden, and Paraguay (Tres Palmas/Lucero, and Loma Plata) where he made friends and many memories for his students.

Walter also worked with his hands, helping his in-laws in agriculture and logging, and doing his own carpentry career. He built a house and cabins, signs, boxes, boomerangs, and toys. In mid-life he worked with a stone mason, and was in his 60s when he did “penance” for all the trees he had cut down as a young lumberjack: he joined a tree planting crew.

His hands were also artistic, writing letters in flowing script, communicating in sign-language, and playing musical instruments. He sang tunefully, learned Low German as an adult, and was known as a storyteller. Some of his stories were published in the waning months of his life.

Walter was a member of the EMC in Kola, but was also part of evangelical fellowships in Ridgewood, Virden, and Rosenort. Baptized as an infant in the United Church, raised Lutheran, awakened in the Alliance, discipled in the Salvation Army, “re”-baptized in the Evangelical Mennonite, embraced by the Baptists, and appreciative of the Anglicans, he was at once an orthodox churchman and a childlike realist, seeing the good and the beautiful in people.

Alongside a commitment to Anabaptist theology, he respected the military heritage of his ancestors. Though he read widely, he was simple in his theology: “I wanted to be honest with God; the Gospel just makes sense.” He was an encouragement to the faith of those with little left of their own.

In his last years Walter insisted he was neither suffering nor battling. Rather, after a long conversation with cancer, on May 6, 2017, the conversation was over. Jesus will have the last word.

– His Family

Ellen Plett

1921–2017

Ellen-Plett
Ellen Plett

Ellen Plett was born on Feb. 23, 1921, to Cornelius and Susanna Plett in what is now called Landmark, Man. She grew up in Landmark and on April 25, 1943, married John K. Plett, also of Landmark.

After many years of living on Dad’s family’s farm in the Landmark area, Mom and Dad made the big move to Treesbank, Man., in 1967.

Mom always had a big garden that always included lots of flowers. Besides having a big garden, taking tailgate lunches to Dad in the field, raising a family of seven that included two sets of twins, Mom loved to sew.

Though a very hard worker, Mom loved to go on trips that included going to Mexico, Banff, the Holy Land, United Arab Emirates, and the USA.

Mom accepted Jesus as her Saviour at an early age and openly declared this by getting baptized and becoming a member of the Prairie Rose Klein Gemeinde Church in Landmark and remained a loyal member of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference throughout her life.

Mom loved Jesus as her Lord and Saviour with her whole heart, and joyfully lived her life passing the love He had for her onto others. When the Brandon MCC Thrift Store opened, Mom was one of the founding volunteers. She taught Sunday School and taught Friendship Bible Coffees. When that was no longer possible for her, she gathered a group of her friends together on a regular basis to sing Gospel songs.

Mom and Dad farmed in the Treesbank area until their retirement from farming in 1987. They moved into a new house in Treesbank, but sadly were only able to enjoy living in it together less than a year. After Dad passed away in the fall of 1987, Mom continued to live in Treesbank for 10 years. When the yard work became too difficult, Mom moved into an apartment in Wawanesa. 

With her health deteriorating more and more, Mom bravely made more and more of the necessary downsizing moves, from her apartment to the Valley Lodge and then a few years later into the Wawanesa Personal Care Home. Thank you so much to the staff at the PCH for giving Mom such love and wonderful care.

On Wed., April 12, 2017, in the morning, Mom’s health took a very sudden downward turn and that evening while gazing up toward heaven she peacefully took her last breath.  Mom was 96. We are thankful that God granted Mom her wish of having a sound mind and being able to die peacefully with several of her children by her side.

Mom was predeceased by her husband John, her parents, four sisters, and two brothers.

With our hearts full of tears, but with joy in the knowledge that Mom is where she longed to be, we grieve and celebrate: Marian (Les) Plett, Shirley (Del) Friesen, Lillian (Ken) Weber, Luella (Leonard) Plett, Leroy (Sylvia) Plett, Eleanor (Rob) Reimer, and Eddie (Val) Plett, her 22 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren, two sisters, one brother, and five sisters-in-law and one brother-in-law.

– Her Family

Peter Klassen

1943-2015

peter-klassen
Peter Klassen

Peter Klassen passed away with his family by his side at London Health Science Centre-Victora Campus, Ont., on Thursday, May 14, 2015, in his 72nd year.

He was the beloved husband of Sara (Wiebe) Klassen. He was the dear father of Annie Neufeld (Peter) of Vauxhall, Alberta; Johnny Klassen (Lisa) of Listowel; Justina Kornelsen (Norman) of Whitecourt, Alberta; Linda Wall(Dave) of Aylmer; Martha Bergen (Dave) of Aylmer; and Neil Klassen (Lisa) of Vauxhall, Alberta. He was the loving grandfather of Steven (Annie), Linda (Pete), Joanne (George), Elizabeth, Tina (Jake), Cornie (Lisa), Frank, Jennifer, Jenic, Diana, Rick, Rodney (Pearl), Leelan, Dalin, Jaron, Demea, Josh, Hallie;and great-grandfather of Austin, Emmett, Alyvia, Aiden, and Neil.

He was the brother to Hans (Agatha), Benjamin (Lisa), Tina Friesen (Jacob), Nettie Rempel (Cornelius), Helen Wall (Ben), Jacob (Helen), Susanna Banman (Frank). He was a brother-in-law to Susanna and Sara. He was also survived by a number of nieces and nephews.

Peter was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, on Aug. 10, 1943, son of the late Johan and Justina (Fehr) Klassen. He was predeceased by brothers Abram, Cornelius, and David. Peter worked at Imperial Tobacco and was a member of the Straffordville EMC. The funeral service was held at the Mount Salem Sommerfeld Mennonite Church on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, with Pastor Abe Berg officiating.

– His Family

Neil Klassen

1954-2016

Neil-Klassen
Neil Klassen

Neil Klassen passed away peacefully with his wife, Margaret, by his side at London Health Science Centre-University Hospital, Ont., on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in his 62nd year.

Neil was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, on Nov. 12, 1954, the son of the late David and Anna Klassen. He was the beloved husband of Margaret Klassen.

He was the loving father of Susanna Roberts (Chris) of Calgary, David Klassen(Karalyn Church) of London, Johnny Klassen (Angela) of Lambeth and Margaret Hill (Jeff) of Langton.

He was the proud grandfather of Sophia, Harper, Arianna, Brooke, Lucas, Sean, Mackenzie, and Alanna. He was the dear brother of Julius Klassen, Jake Klassen (Anna), George Klassen (Elizabeth), Abe Klassen (Susan), Helen Wall (Neil), and Henry Klassen (Maria). He was the brother-in-law of Katherine, Aaron, and Maria. Neil was survived by a number of nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by a sister, Elizabeth, and brothers Johan, David, and Peter. Neil enjoyed his vegetable garden and cutting the grass.

The funeral service was held at the Bradley Street Church of God, Aylmer, Ont., on Saturday, March 26, 2016, with Pastor Abe Berg officiating.

– His Family

Rev. John K. Reimer (1919-2016): A Tribute

by Rev. Henry Klassen

John-K
Rev. John K. Reimer

Rev. John Reimer was born on Feb. 16, 1919, just after World War I and died on Nov. 3, 2016. Much of his life was spent in dedication to a successful ministry in the E. M. Conference. I had the privilege to learn to know him and to work with him in different stages in his life. In 1945 he married Leona Reimer who played a very important role in John’s ministries over the years.

My first memory of John was when he served with Western Gospel Mission in Saskatchewan from 1946–55. From time to time he would come to our church in Steinbach, where he was also a member, and report on his ministry. As a youth I recognized his passion for the work he did in the public schools, in evangelism, and in establishing churches. Many years later people in the community would still express appreciation for the Reimers’ ministry.

John graduated from Steinbach Bible Institute in 1943. He was one of the first young people from our church to go to Bible School. This pioneer spirit was also evident when he became the first church supported missionary with Western Gospel Mission.

In the early fifties EMC started to have church services in Winnipeg, especially for EMC people working and living in the city. This endeavour developed into an organized EMC church. John became the pastor of the Aberdeen Church in 1955. When I attended Teachers College in 1958–59, I was active in this church. John was an inspiring pastor with a vision for outreach in the poorer areas of the city. He encouraged his church to be involved in the church’s outreach known as Euclid Mission.

John’s interest and commitment to global missions was affirmed by his active participation on the EMC Board of Missions from 1959–64. We were sent to Belize as missionaries during this period. He was an encouraging member of the board. When the BOM decided to hire an executive secretary to do the administrative work, John was chosen to fill this new position. John did a remarkable job during the transition from board member to a hired administrator. In 1973 I was appointed John’s assistant. We had a respectful and good relationship.

I found John as Executive Secretary relating in a caring and thoughtful manner with missionaries. When he visited us in Belize in the Executive Secretary position his interest and support for our involvement was very evident to us. John contributed to the growth of EMC Missions during his term as Executive Secretary from 1969–1977.

John’s heart for missions was evident when he retired from pastoral ministry in Wymark EMC and volunteered to go to Paraguay to pastor a church. After the Reimers left, people in the church often talked about their valued ministry. As a senior he was also appreciated by the EMC missionaries serving in Paraguay.

In my involvement with John over the years I found him deeply committed to prayer and trust in the Lord for guidance and enablement. He was a man of passion for the Lord and His mission.

In his retirement John continued to serve the church as interim pastor at Anola, as a deacon in Steinbach EMC, and in other ministries. He was active in service of his Lord and Saviour as long as God gave him the strength. I am reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Tim. 4:7-8. These words could have been John’s testimony: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.”

In offering this tribute, Rev. Henry Klassen brings a background of having served as a WGM worker, EMC missionary, Assistant Secretary (1972–77) and Executive Secretary (1977–2000).