On a beautiful sunny day with the daffodils in full bloom, the church bells tolled 81 times in celebration of each year of Ben’s life as our Lord and Saviour called his faithful servant home.
The family is deeply saddened to announce, that after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Dementia, Ben passed away peacefully at the Bethesda Regional Health Centre on Tuesday May 16, 2023.
Dad married his sweetheart, Emily Schalla on August 8, 1964. They settled in Steinbach, MB and raised 2 daughters, Sandee and Brenda. Dad was a devoted husband and father. Dad loved his 3 “girls” unconditionally and took pride in watching his family grow and providing for them. Dad was an amazing husband, father and grandfather. His family was his world. As us girls got older his family grew and grandchildren came into the picture. His heart was full. He loved his grandchildren and cherished all the time they spent with him. He was fondly referred to as Papa by his grandchildren.
Dad was an amazing, kind, gentle man with a dry sense of humour. He could “pull one over” on you with a straight face and a twinkle in his eye. He loved practical jokes, as many of our family and friends found out firsthand. We would hear him telling our friends that they needed winter air in their tires or finding out that he had toilet papered their vehicles. All those that knew Dad will fondly remember him for his kindness, gentle nature, sense of humor and especially for that twinkle in his eye as he talked to people.
Dad worked hard all his life and did not shy away from the difficult jobs. He worked long hours and often came home tired and very dirty from a hard day’s work. Yet he never really complained. He was proud to work hard to support his family. He was a well-respected businessman in Steinbach who was known to do the job professionally or not at all. It was hard to find anyone that did not know and like “Bennie”. He left a mark of light in this world will never be forgotten.
Dad also had a great fondness for his 1972 Luxury LeMans. He bought this car as a birthday present for Mom, but we have always questioned that motive. He bought the car new and owned it until the end of his life. The car, as with everything dad owned, is in impeccable condition. He took great pride in caring for his car. To this day the LeMans is a show piece. Dad also loved yard work and together with Mom they created a park like yard which was enjoyed by the many people who stopped by or just drove by to see the beautiful yard and flowers. Dad’s hobbies also included collecting metal trucks, cars, planes and trains as well as antiques. He also seemed to have a fondness for collecting clocks. He knew what he liked. One year as surprise to Mom, he managed to rescue Mom’s rusty Radio Flyer wagon she had as a child off a garbage pile at the old Schalla family farm. He had it completely restored to better than new. That was quite the surprise, and it is cherished by us all to this day.
Dad was a man of faith, and the church was very important to him. When Dad could no longer drive, Mom frequently took him for rides in the car. He loved to just drive around and look at things. On one of the last rides Mom took him on before he went into the hospital, Dad asked Mom to drive by the church. He wanted to see the church. They stopped to look at the church bells and drove on the yard so he could get a good look. He had not been able to attend church in a while due to his health, but the church was always on his mind and of great importance to him. He greatly appreciated Pastor Terry and Reverend Melissa. We have been so blessed to have had them both lead our congregation. Pastor Maier would often stop by their home and the hospital to visit. His visitations were greatly appreciated. Pastor Terry came to visit Dad in the hospital a few days before his passing. As he walked into the room and began to speak, Dad’s eyes opened wide, and he tried to speak to him. We knew Dad was aware of those who came to see him, but rarely did he open his eyes. What an amazing moment!
Ben was born in the RM of Morris to Jacob & Mary Klassen (nee Harder) on May 20, 1941.
Ben is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Emily. Daughters: Sandee (Kelly) Erickson, Brenda (Kurt) Giesbrecht. Grandchildren: Kaden Rempel, Ashley (Wes) Parkhurst, Nathan (Megan Hunter) Ricard, Nic (Amanda) Ricard, Alex Giesbrecht. Great grandchildren: Deegan & Haven Parkhurst, Lucus & Madelynn Ricard. Siblings: Ed (Linda) Klassen, Mary (Ed) Hovorka, Ken (Lindy) Klassen, Marlene Klassen, Carol (Rick) Zelych, Kim Klassen; In Laws: Willie Schalla, Tina Schalla, Marlene Suderman and many nieces and nephews.
Ben is predeceased by his parents Jacob & Mary Klassen, Parents-in-law John and Natalia Schalla, Brother Wesley and sister Tina as infants, brother Jake Klassen, sister Lavera Wiebe & brother-in-law Peter Wiebe, & brother John Klassen. In Laws: Mary (Emile) Krentz, Rosie (Abe) Guenther, Helen (Phil) Roy, Louise (Jake) Falk, Henry (Anne-Marie) Schalla, Elvin Schalla, Pauline (Johnny) Reimer, Alvina Rosner (Freddie Freund) (Gus Rosner).
Viewing will take place at St Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1:00 pm on May 23, 2023, prior to the service. The service will follow at 2:00 pm. Interment will follow the service at St Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery on Hwy 12 south of Steinbach. For this unable to attend in person the family invites you to join them via livestream. Please click here to view the livestream.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to Pastor Terry, Dr. Ilchyna, Dr. Schwartz and all the nurses and staff at the Bethesda Regional Health Care Centre for the gentle compassionate care provided to Dad in his final days.
May the Lord bless you and keep you,
May He make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you,
May He lift up His countenance upon you,
And grant you His peace.
Thanks be to God
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Parkinson Canada or the St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church Memorial Fund, 465 Henry St, Steinbach, MB R5G 0H1.