Surrounded by his family, Ben G. Unger, age 85, of Mitchell, Manitoba, passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 2, 2023, at the Bethesda Regional Health Centre. Our sorrow is blended with great joy knowing our husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather was welcomed into the open arms of his loving Heavenly Father.
Left to mourn Dad’s passing is his loving and devoted wife of nearly 61 years, Erna (nee Toews); son Clancy (Tammy), their children Caden, Aralin (David) Warkentin (Mia, Roman, Jozie), Kara, Draycee; son Ray (Bev), their children Melissa (Ryan) McCall (Jack, Rhett), Jocelyn (Nathan) Hildebrand (Maverick, Kynlee, Brielle), Kori; son Wayne (Patti), their children Scott (Abi) (Parker, Jaxon, Chandler), Amy (Mack) Unrau (Hermione), Meagan; daughter Linda (Dave) Reimer, their children Ashley, Lilly; daughter-in-law Kami, her children Ty (Erin), Kallyn (Trent) Mehling (Jase, Lindy), Aaron (Aleah); daughter Carolyn (Bryan) Peters, their children Oliver, Gabriela; son Dave (Melissa), their children Nicholas, Ethan, Summer. Dad also leaves to mourn, 2 sisters; twin sister Alvina Wiebe, sister Martha (George) Barkman, brothers-in-law Cornie Wiens and Homer Barkman; as well many nieces and nephews whom he loved dearly.
Dad was predeceased by his grandson Colton in 2018, his son Ron in 2019, 1 brother in infancy and 8 sisters.
Dad was born on December 1, 1937, on the family homestead in the RM of Hanover to Peter W. and Maria Unger. He and his twin sister Alvina were the second youngest of 12 children. He always joked that he was a “late ‘37 model.” Dad attended Bristol school until the time when his father needed him to help on the family farm. Dad was kept busy with many responsibilities on the farm but always seemed to find time to annoy his 10 sisters.
Dad was baptized upon confession of his faith on May 19, 1959, at the age of 21. In 1960, Dad met Erna Toews while custom harvesting for her sister and brother-in-law. This is where Dad first saw Mom and was immediately smitten. They were married at the Steinbach CMC on May 20, 1962. They started their family in Steinbach then moved to the Unger family homestead in 1969. Dad worked hard to provide for his family as a mechanic at Neufeld Farm Equipment during the day and then farmed in the evening. He continued on with this busy schedule until his transition to full time farming in 1972. Around this time Dad felt God’s calling to the ministry and began Seminary evening classes at Steinbach Bible College. He became an ordained minister in 1974 and a new chapter in their life began. Dad served within the CMC Conference for nearly 22 years at which point he attempted to retire but clearly this was not God’s plan. He continued serving as interim pastor and guest speaker in various churches until 2021. He led Bible study at Village Oaks in Kleefeld and continued to minister to people until the very end by sharing his faith and trust in the Lord.
Mom and Dad were blessed with 7 children, 20 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. Next to his faith in the Lord, nothing was more important to Dad than family. He respected each of his children immensely and felt great joy and pride as each and every grandchild was added to the family. He loved watching and supporting his grandchildren in all their various activities.
Dad and Mom enjoyed years of camping and fishing with friends. They were regulars at Otter Falls and Falcon Lake. They frequented many gospel music festivals over the years as well.
Upon retirement, Dad’s greatest passion by far was restoring antique tractors and was very partial to the color “orange”. We do feel an obligation to advise Allis Chalmers that they could now stop making parts. He spent endless hours in his workshop, carefully restoring and detailing these tractors. Dad was very particular and every detail was covered before he considered each restoration complete. Dad proudly rode his tractors in the annual MHV Tractor Trek fundraiser. He loyally participated in 10 treks. His last ride being in June 2022. A highlight for Dad was having his sons and grandsons trek with him. When Dad was not restoring tractors, he thoroughly enjoyed watching sports on TV, in particular hockey and his Blue Jays.
Dad was blessed to live a long, mostly healthy life and was grateful to God for granting him good health. He was diagnosed with liver disease in 2012 but continued to enjoy an active life, generally unaffected by this diagnosis. He always said that every day past the age of 70 was a gift as this is the age his own father had passed away. We noticed Dad’s health began to deteriorate after the loss of his son Ron in 2019 and in early 2022 more health challenges began to set in. Cancer was detected on his already compromised liver and treatment for this took place in July 2022. Some complications then resulted in a 4 month hospitalization. Dad came home in November 2022 but was just never the same. He and Mom’s life slowed down and they enjoyed nearly 5 months together at home until Dad was admitted back to the hospital on March 17, 2023.
Dad was steadfast in his faith and dedication to his Heavenly Father. He left us all with a strong example and legacy of what is important; God’s word. When we were growing up, every morning before we ate breakfast, Dad would read the Daily Bread devotional at the family table. Everyone of us was expected to be at the table for morning devotions, no matter how late our evening was the night before. This continued on until his last morning at home with Mom. When Dad was hospitalized, we were blessed with the opportunity to take over reading the Daily Bread devotional to him and praying with him.
We want to thank all the caring nurses, doctors and health care workers at the Bethesda Regional Health Centre. A special thank you to April Friesen and her dedicated team of nurses and health care workers on the first floor Medicine Ward. Their compassionate care in advising us and keeping Dad comfortable, especially during these last 2 weeks, helped make Dad’s last weeks peaceful. We all felt the love and kindness they extended to him and our family. Thank you to all of Dad’s family and friends who came to visit either in the hospital or while he was at home. He cherished these visits very much and always expressed how much he enjoyed seeing you all and how encouraging it was for him.
Lastly, we would like to thank Rob Hiebert and his staff at Crossings Funeral Care for their care in handling all the details and honoring our Dad in the most compassionate way.
A come and go viewing will be held from 6:30pm - 8:30pm on Monday, April 10, 2023, at Crossing Funeral Care. A funeral service will be held at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, at the Southland Church in Steinbach, with viewing one hour prior to the service. For those unable to attend in person, the family invites you to join them via livestream by using this link.