It is with heavy hearts that we announce the peaceful passing of our husband, father, step-father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and friend, Heinrich (Henry) Klassen, age 86 on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at the Bethesda Regional Health Centre.
Heinrich Klassen was born on June 25, 1936, the fifth son, to parents Peter and Elizabeth (Froese) Klassen on the farm near Blumenort (west of Gretna), Manitoba. Dad sometimes said that he had been a sickly baby and the Dr. had not thought that he would make it. With few medicines available at the time, the Dr. had prescribed watered down whiskey or brandy to help the stomach, and it worked. He went to the Blumenort village school finishing in grade 9. With 7 living brothers and one sister, it was a busy, happy household until, at the age of 15, his mother passed away very suddenly from a brain aneurism. Some of the boys now had to take over the tasks of cooking and cleaning. Dad had to quit school to do the cleaning and Martin did the cooking.
Dad was baptised, upon confession of his faith, in the Sommerfelder Mennonite Church at Rudnerweide in June, 1957. He married Tina Dueck on July 5, 1959, moving to the farm half a mile west from where he was born. They started off with a 2 room house until 1967, when they purchased the Rosenheim teacherage and moved it to the farm. It was very exciting to move into a 3 bedroom home. In 1974, an addition was added to the house to make it 4 bedrooms.
Mom and dad had 3 daughters: Diana, Sharon and Judy, all of whom he was very proud. Because he had been unable to continue his education, he valued it greatly, and encouraged all of his children and grandchildren to pursue it. I have often said that dad poured his ambition into me, and I have him to thank for that encouragement.
Dad was an incredibly hard worker and he often quoted the Bible verse from 2 Thessalonians 3, verse 10: “Wer nicht arbeiten will, der soll auch nicht essen.” “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Not only did he have his own farm, but he spent most of his life working for other farmers. He truly was a farmer at heart, and even after he sold the farm, he continued to plant rows of wheat and other grains in the garden. In the earlier years, mom and dad milked cows and shipped cream, and later moved to raising Hereford beef cattle. Dad was often called on to assist other beef farmers for birthing calves or injections when cattle were ill. He loved to help and I doubt that he ever said “no” to helping someone else. Two days before passed away, dad said to me “I should have worked harder”, and then he smiled as he knew hard work had kept him motivated throughout his life.
Dad loved driving. . . . tractors, combines, potato harvesters, the big beet loaders, potato trucks, and after he left the farm, he got his class 1 driver’s license so that he could also drive the bigger trucks and semi-trailers. He enjoyed working at the beet loader, and drove a feed truck after leaving the farm. Driving was also a part of his volunteer work as he got older. For 9 years he was a volunteer driver for Child & Family Services taking children to appointments. For a couple of years he also volunteered at the Health Science Center as a comfort host, and well into his 80’s, he was delivering papers for the Carillon News to southeastern Manitoba towns. He liked nothing better than to be told by people “If you were as old as I am, you wouldn’t be working anymore” and dad would ask “how old are you?” and they would reply something like “72”. Dad would only nod his head and smile knowingly, never telling them his age.
Mom’s struggle with cancer for 7 years was a challenge for dad. Judy, as the youngest daughter, remembers that it changed him and he became a very attentive and appreciative husband. He brought mom flowers regularly and one particular Valentine’s Day, when he had not had the opportunity to get flowers from town, he went outside and stamped a heart in the snow outside the kitchen window for mom to see when she was working in the kitchen. Mom passed away suddenly on October 10, 1994, from a massive brain aneurism. Dad was heartbroken at the sudden loss of his wife of 35 years.
On June 1, 1996, he married Alvina (Funk Hiebert), and gained 2 step-daughters, Charlene and Kim, and 2 step-sons, Ken and Rob and their families. Dad and Alvina were blessed with over 26 years of marriage. They started their married life in New Bothwell, and eventually moved to Steinbach, to Mitchell and then back to Steinbach. They had just made the decision to move into assisted living in April.
Most of dad’s health issues were more recent, although he did have his appendix and gallbladder removed and his knee replaced in earlier years. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005, but surgery and radiation gave him another 18 years with us. He had a serious case of pancreatitis in 2012, but he rallied and recovered. Tuesday, March 21, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, which had already spread to the liver, and the decline was very visible from day to day. He lived one week and passed away at the age of 86 at 6:35 a.m on Tuesday, March 28, at the Bethesda Hospital in Steinbach. He was very calm and peaceful in the last few days. He said he was ready, and we were blessed that he could still recognize us all and communicate with us at least a little bit right to the end. On Sunday, when he awoke, he looked around and saw an entire group of us children and spouses & Alvina; he stretched out his arms and said “I love you all”. What more could we ask for? We were blessed.
Dad is survived by his beloved wife, Alvina, his daughter, Diana Klassen with children Rina, Delroy & Lara, daughter Sharon & Brad Hildebrand with children Kevin, Ryan & Carley, daughter Judy & Pat Martens with children Cameron, Timothy, Dezarae, Kenley, Amy & Theresa. Step-daughter Charlene & Kent Reimer with children Travis & Brittany, step-sons Ken & Colleen Hiebert with children Alisha, Jacob, Catrica & Jaxon, Rob & Connie Hiebert with children Brendan, Kaiden & Trenton, step-daughter Kim & Kelvin Goertzen with son Malachi. Dad is also survived by 5 great-grandchildren and 3 step-great-grandchildren. The names of the spouses of the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren are listed on your memory card. Dad is also survived by 3 brothers, Edward, Erdman & Katie, David & Helen, and 1 sister, Elizabeth Klassen, and their families.
Dad was pre-deceased by his first wife, Tina, and 5 brothers, Frank (in infancy), Daniel, Martin, Peter, and John.
On behalf of my sisters, I would like to thank Alvina for taking care of dad for 26 years. We are sure that you added years to his life. Also, thank you to the step-children and grandchildren for loving dad as your own dad and grandpa. Thank you to the Drs. and nurses at Bethesda Hospital for your compassionate care in dad’s last days.
Thank you to Pastor John Neufeld for leading this service, Sheila Rempel for playing piano, Colleen Hiebert for leading us in song and singing with Jaxon on piano, and the ushers. Thank you to Pastor Terry Toews for leading us at the upcoming interment. For those of you in the congregation, both in-person and online, we thank you for coming and for your prayers for us as a family.
Last, but not least, a very special thank you to our step-brother, Rob & Connie Hiebert, owners of Crossings Funeral Care, for handling all the details of the arrangements in such a caring and compassionate manner. Thank you too, Brendan, for assisting your dad.
A come and go viewing will be held from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm on Wednesday, April 5, 2023 at Crossings Funeral Care. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday, April 6, 2023 at the Bothwell Christian Fellowship Church in New Bothwell, with viewing one hour prior to the service. Interment will take place in the Rosenheim Cemetery, west of Rosenfeld, Manitoba. For those who are unable to attend the service in person, they would ask that you join them through livestream. Please click here to view the livestream.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made the the Canadian Cancer Society.